Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment

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Canada bound: William Norris to leave the OAE

Thu 11 Jun 2015

William Norris (c) Joe Plommer

After ten and a half years at the OAE, William Norris, Communications and Creative Programming Director, is moving on to pastures new. Pastures quite far away, in fact.

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Not all offices are the same

Thu 5 Mar 2015

Not all offices are the same. I can say that for certain right now, because I’ve just started working in an office which is most definitely not like any of the offices I’ve ever worked in before.

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Taking pride

Thu 8 Sep 2011

Taking pride

I might have just been paranoid, but I’m pretty sure that when I stood up and took this picture in a meeting, announcing that I was going to write a blog article, that everyone thought I was a bit mad. And probably wondered how I was going to make this meeting sound in any way interesting to people.

But I thought that you, our readers, fans and concert-goers might be interested in some of the behind-the-scenes stuff that goes on at the OAE, and indeed, other Orchestras.

This relates a little to a favourite anecdote of our CEO, Stephen. He was asked at some function-or-other if being Chief Executive of the OAE was a full-time job. The person asking was pretty surprised when he said yes, and even more surprised when he said it was also a full time job for the 17 others in the office too.

So when you look at the Orchestra’s staff list in the concert programme you may well be thinking ‘what do all these people actually do?!’

Well, in the Communications team, one of the things we do is (and this may come as a surprise to you) talk and plan with other Orchestras and our main London venue, Southbank Centre. This is where Pride comes in. Pride is not anything to do with a march or a type of bread but is instead, rather more mundanely, the name of the regular marketing meeting the four Resident Orchestras; the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia, London Sinfonietta and ourselves, have with Southbank Centre. The name ‘Pride’ comes from around 10 years ago, when these meetings first started off life as a group working on exhibiting ‘pride’ in the Resident Orchestras.

We have these about every 4-6 weeks and use it as a way of coordinating things like the launch of each season, mailings, bringing up any issues with things like leaflet racks or plasma screens, sharing audience research findings and so on.

At the meeting in question we were talking about one of the more exciting things we work on and one thing where we definitely all make a joint effort – the start of the classical season. We’re always keen to make a bit of a splash with this, to alert the concert-going public that the Proms are over and it’s time for the start of the ‘proper’ (!) classical season. Not only that but we all want to raise our profiles and remind people that while other very good venues exist in London, Southbank Centre really does offer an unrivalled choice and breadth of classical performance.

So, we’ve been talking in recent meetings about the scope of the campaign – should it be a tube campaign as we did last year? Or should it be more rooted on the Southbank Centre site? We went for the latter. We’ve also been talking about which pictures to use for the campaign, and the re-development of the Classical mini-site on the Southbank Centre website. This is going to feature a video trailer for the new season, so we’ve talked about what that should contain and all contributed footage for it. We’ve also engaged an agency to help promote the launch of the site and the new season online. Everything is progressing nicely now – so expect […]

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Algae, cravings and no wine. Natasha’s first day

Tue 6 Sep 2011

Natasha Riordan-Eva

I’m Natasha, half of the new Communications Intern duo (my partner in crime being Darren Charlton, the Thursday-Friday man. We’re still looking for a good Jedward style name so have a look at suggestions on the previous blogand start thinking up your own ingenious ideas). I graduated in July from Bristol University so this is my first venture into the working world, away from the comforts of a student loan and 2pm starts. I worked as an OAE student rep during my second and third years and was eager to continue with the orchestra as not only are they the best in the business, but two years of free tickets, badges, beer mats and one personally signed Christmas card from the Communications team won’t repay themselves.

I am working three days a week which means I sadly won’t experience the delights of ‘Friday Wine’, but to make up for it, my view of the canal is simply breathtaking. Floating beer cans lodged in the inert sheet of green algae and the miraculous bird who walks on water gently drift by whilst I and try to fight off the Prêt-a-Manger cravings (there are two stores within five minutes walk). The atmosphere here is less stuffy office and more creative hub. The building is shared by other companies so there is a lively buzz in the foyer and the gallery downstairs makes a nice view whilst cruising down the escalator. Today’s tasks have included making myself acquainted with the large selection of communal tea, adding media to the new website and narrowly avoiding a wandering set of timpani so squeaky and cumbersome that it required an elevator (so THAT’s why we have one in the open plan office) to be transported from one level to the other! It’s been a pretty great day, the highlight definitely being answering the phone for the first time as ‘Natasha from the OAE’. There are some fab concerts coming up; looking at the orchestra’s schedule is like reading a list of my classical music highlights. First up – I can’t wait to hear three players giving The Star of Kings pub in King’s Cross some special OAE treatment at The Night Shift on Thursday night. Be there! Anyway, time has flown by and it’s now five thirty – home time! I think it is safe to say that day one has been a complete success. Shame about the Friday wine, but how many other interns get to meet Trevor Pinnock on their first day in the office?

Natasha Riordan-Eva, Communications Intern

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Name our interns! (AKA, we need an OAE Jedward please)

Fri 2 Sep 2011

So this afternoon our new Communications Interns, Natasha and Darren, are having their induction session, (i.e. where the coffee is and how the phones work).They’ll be with us for a couple of months and are sharing the ‘job’, doing 3 and 2 days a week respectively. We hope to give them a good insight into how the OAE works and how the marketing and press side of the office functions, and ultimately equip them with some useful experience for the future.

BUT we did realise this afternoon that we have a major problem. We already have someone in the office called Natasha. Who works in the Communications team. This could obviously cause huge confusion. Darren said therefore that they should have some kind of Jedward style of name (explanation here if you’ve been on Mars for the last year), i.e. a fusion of their two names, especially given they’re sharing the job (Jedward = John and Edward btw).

So, any suggestions? It may help to know their full names which are Darren Charlton and Natasha Riordan-Eva…the best suggestion will not only be used on a daily basis in the office but the inventor will also get an exciting range of OAE merchandise sent to them.

William Norris, Communications Director

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All quiet on the blog…

Mon 25 Jul 2011

You may have noticed that the OAE blog has been a little quiet over the last week….sorry! The reason is that the OAE Communications team, who generally update it, have all been away at a conference for a few days, learning to refine the tools of our trade. We’ll be posting a report from the conference (the Arts Marketing Association conference) soon, so you can find out just what we’ve been up to, and in the meantime we have a whole host of new videos and articles for you…so normal service will resume shortly!

William Norris, Communications Director

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An APPEALing combination

Thu 9 Jun 2011

OAE Silver anniversary appeal

When I go to conferences and seminars and the like one of the recurring themes seems to be that of organisational structure and the need for successful organisations to break down the ‘silos’ that often occur within them – i.e. departments that work in isolation from each other, with little understanding of each other and what they’re up to – sometimes even being hostile to each other.

That such a situation occurs within big organisations is perhaps understandable, but its surprising that even in an office of just 18 people that we do sometimes have some small symptoms of this – not everyone realising that an education event is occurring, that the orchestra is that morning off on tour, being unaware of a Financial deadline looming, or that two people have been emailing the same person at the Southbank Centre the same question…. Little things.

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My last day at OAE…already!

Fri 11 Mar 2011

For the last four weeks I’ve been in the OAE office working as the Communications Intern – and those four weeks have flown by! I’ve had a great time, mainly working in the Communications department, but I’ve tried to get an experience of how the orchestra works by going to as many events and meetings as possible.

The highlight of the four weeks for me was definitely the CPE Bach concert last Thursday, but everything about my time here has been enjoyable – especially meeting the players and members of the audience at events, but also the gossips over lunch, or a cheeky Nando’s, or the “PFA” (Projects Food Area – where all the biscuits and cake end up!)

I’ll be going back to Cardiff next week, as on Tuesday I go back to lectures for my Masters in Arts Management. However, I will be coming back up in May and June for the next Night Shifts – from what I’ve heard, they seem to be amazing events and I can’t wait to go to one, especially as I’m looking forward to having a boogie with some of the guys from the office – apparently, their dance moves are legendary.

I’ve learnt a lot about the orchestra, and about marketing in general, in my time here – but more importantly, I’ve had a fantastic time, made some wonderful friends, and gone to some amazing concerts for free!

David Hopkins, Communications Intern

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From Jurowski to Jurowski

Tue 25 Jan 2011

I am writing this on my final day here at the OAE. Firstly I should just explain the title ….on my second day here I got to accompany Megan to Glyndebourne to see Don Giovanni conducted by Vlad, and tonight on my last day is the fantastic concert in the RFH of Wagner, Liszt and Mahler again conducted by Vlad.

I have enjoyed my time here immensely, I was applying to the internship to find out all about ‘orchestra managing’, but have come away with knowledge about stage management, touring, visas, franking machines, rehearsals, lit stands, technical riders, Donor strategy, fixing, programming, recording, marketing, press interviews, the BBC, printing labels, playing the violin, making teas, folding music stands, running rehearsals, ordering bouquets, eating chocolates, evacuating Kings Place, and most of all un-jamming the photocopier.

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Get to know the OAE: Part 6

Fri 12 Nov 2010

This week, we speak to William Norris in the OAE office…

What’s your role in the OAE office?

I’m the Communications Director. At a basic level it’s my job to make sure that we maximise ticket sales for our concerts in London. But really it’s about a lot more than this – looking after the ‘brand’ of the orchestra, enhancing the audiences experience, attracting different kinds of audience, and thinking about the orchestras public profile and press coverage.

What does your typical day involve?

There’s no typical day which is one of the reasons I enjoy my job. But an average day might include preparing sales figures, coordinating mailings, working with our designer, booking adverts, trying to avoid sales calls, writing copy, working on our social networking sites, commissioning programme notes, and adding to the large piles of paper which cover my desk.

Which mobile number do you call the most?

I think you’re supposed to say your partners/children’s but since I have neither no one number springs to mind…These question are getting very personal suddenly! I quite often call my own so I can find my phone…

What – or where – is perfection?

I’m not sure there is such a thing. A glass of wine outside on a balmy summers evening comes pretty close though.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?

I’m really not sure I have one. I usually like the underdog. Like the cute but rather hapless aliens in Toy Story.

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