28 July, 2010

A day in the life of...Head of Programme Development, Sally Hobson

Head of Programme Development, Sally Hobson talks negotiating a bustling Royal Mile to get to work and reveals what she is looking forward to at Festival 2010.

Can you give a brief overview of your role at EIF?
I work at the Festival as Head of Programme Development. I look after events that extend the reach of the Festival’s programme. My portfolio includes defining and delivering our schools work in Edinburgh for primary and secondary schools.

How long have you worked at the Festival?
I have worked here since 1994 and this will be my 17th Festival.

What is the best/most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is meeting deadlines and the pressure of the job. The hardest part is negotiating the walk along the Royal Mile when its busy.

The best parts of the job include working with my colleagues, the school pupils responses and our artists who deliver the programme year round as well as in August.

What do you do on a day to day basis?
I work with all departments at the Festival in different ways throughout the year.

What did you do before joining the Festival?
I worked with the Citizens’ Theatre and various arts organisations in Scotland and England. Alongside this I trained and worked as a therapist with experience of working in England and Scotland, specifically Easterhouse and Royston in Glasgow.

What do you get up to outside of work?
I write poetry and theatre productions. I have undertaken SAC funded projects in writing development and had produced work in various venues in Scotland. I swim a lot, and walk all over the place. I have an 18 year son whom I talk to occasionally. I go to the cinema and hang-out with friends.

Which events are you most looking forward to at the Festival 2010?
Mahler 3, Pina Bausch and Mau. The day after the Festival is all over is a wonderful feeling too! The weight of delivering a large programme lifts and for a while there is space in the city again!

23 July, 2010

Confessions of a Chorus Member: Susan Bowden

Festival Chorus member Susan Bowden talks about her nerve-racking first audition, the thrill of a standing ovation and wardrobe worries backstage.

Where to start? I arrived in the festival chorus in 1989 having done higher music at school. A friend of my mums brought me along to an empty Usher Hall to listen to a rehearsal and I was blown away by the sound. So after one very nerve-racking audition with Arthur Oldham, 'sight-reading terrible' he said, 'you are not supposed to improvise!' I was a member of the Festival chorus.

The first piece I ever sang in the festival was the memorable Brahms Requiem, terrifying when you have never sung in German before. Over the years there have many memorable concerts, the large choral works, opera recordings, one great memory was the St Petersburg Phil and Yuri Teramakanov we rehearsed in the Meadowbank stadium and they wheeled in a Television at half time for the orchestra to watch what was unfolding in Russia as Communism fell. As the orchestra took to the stage the audience gave a standing ovation, the Mozart Requiem has never felt so emotional.

There is always a great anticipation as August approaches, the first piano rehearsal with the visiting conductor and the great day when the full orchestration comes to life! It is always fascinating to hear the music we have heard Sam Hutchings playing on the grand piano in rehearsal, filling the Usher Hall.

Over the years I have made many great friends, the chorus is a very friendly group, some people have been there for many years and some only a few. But we all share a common goal of making the best music we possibly can, helped by our chorus master Christopher Bell. He keeps us working hard throughout the year, and we share lots of funny moments.

We have El Nino, Mahler 3, and Mahler 8 and the men have opera, Puccini , I am probably most excited by Mahler 3 with the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra, but all our concerts are filled with excitement. Live music is always best, the only way to really share in the excitement and atmosphere. The best feeling is the opening concert but many concerts take you by surprise, it is always a great adventure, even sitting backstage trying not to get dust on your black outfit before going on stage builds the excitement. Here’s to a great Festival 2010.

To find out more about the Festival Chorus go here.

15 July, 2010

A day in the life of...Graphic Designer, Dawid Nabialek

Graphic Designer for the Festival, Dawid Nabialek talks job juggling, his career path from Poland and bringing creative ideas to life.

Can you give a brief overview of your role at EIF?
I work at the Festival as a full-time graphic designer looking after the Festival's brand and providing the marketing department with many designs including posters, leaflets, advertisements, displays, stationery, reports as well as electronic communications and web graphics.

Every year we collaborate with a design agency. They usually create the main design ideas each year including the design of the main brochure. This then forms the basis for the rest of that year’s campaign. Once the Festival brochure is ready I use the designs to develop the rest of campaign visuals which come in various shapes and sizes.

How long have you worked at the Festival?
I have worked here since 2007 and this year is my fourth Festival.

What is the best/most challenging part of your job?
The most challenging part of my job is juggling numerous design jobs for various Festival colleagues all to tight deadlines. I love it when work duties allow me to release my creativity which I can turn into a good and effective design.

One of the best moments each year is during the Festival when after a busy day of work I have the opportunity to enjoy watching Festival shows.

What do you do on a day to day basis?
I work closely with Marketing Manager, Marketing Officer and Festival Marketing and Communication Director on marketing strategies, creative ideas and campaigns all year round, I then find design solutions and techniques to make them a reality. I deal with subcontractors (e.g. printers) and I also help colleagues from other Festival departments including sponsorship, finance, programme development, Hub Tickets and Cafe Hub with their graphic design and artworks.

What did you do before joining the Festival?
Since 2003 I worked as a designer for art organisations, printing companies, ad agencies, graphic design studios, clubs, shops and different companies in Poland.

What do you do apart from your normal work?
My current interest is photography. My favourite subjects are people, streets and more detailed work. I have taken part in two group exhibitions in Edinburgh with Polish and Scottish artists.

I try to be active after my day to day work as well. I work with local communities from Edinburgh on various cultural projects and events. For example, last year, I joined a busy team of young volunteers who have been organising a week-long Festival, the Polish Cultural Festival in Edinburgh, full of cultural events and performances including live music, theatre, dance, film, visual arts and lectures as well as great Medieval Market and Tournament in Leith Links Park.

Which events are you most looking forward to at the Festival 2010?
Russian National Orchestra, Kronos Quartet, Teatro Cinema, Grupo Corpo, Alonzo King Lines Ballet, Mau and Bliss.

12 July, 2010

Confessions of a Chorus Member: Nikki Thomson

Festival Chorus member Nikki Thomson talks about going from choir to chorus and realising her childhood dream...

I discovered the Festival Chorus by happy accident in December 2002. I’d just moved back to Edinburgh and was keen to join a choir. My brother was working in the Hub CafĂ© and told me there was a choir that rehearsed upstairs on Tuesday nights. I auditioned after a rehearsal in January 2003. It was at that rehearsal that I realised this was far more than I’d expected – I think it was sight singing Act Two of Lohengrin that did it. I’d only ever sung in church, school and college choirs before and this was very different.

Much of my life revolves around the Chorus, and when I was doing a part-time Masters degree a few years ago I even persuaded the University to let me swap classes around so I didn’t miss rehearsals. I love the discipline of working week by week in a large group that seeks to be the best it can be.

In August there are several step changes as the chorus prepares to perform. First Christopher Bell, our chorus master, corrects anything we’ve forgotten over the summer break. Then he hands us over to whoever’s conducting the piece, that’s exciting as we have just a couple of hours to learn what they expect of us and for them to learn what we can do. Then the orchestra’s added to the mix and the sound becomes much bigger. Sometimes we find that a piece really doesn’t sound like we thought it did when we rehearsed with the piano. Finally the soloists join the rehearsal and we get to hear the finished piece for the first time, which can be quite moving.

After that step-by-step build-up, we’re primed and ready for the performance. The first time I stood in the Usher Hall choir stalls I remembered I was realising a childhood dream that one day I wanted to be up there performing, and now I was.

There’s been something special about every year’s Festival. I’m looking forward to singing El Nino this year but before that I’m really excited that I’ll get to realise another dream by singing in the Albert Hall at the Proms with the rest of the Chorus ladies in August.

To find out more about the Festival Chorus go here.