This time last year, I was singing my final recital in the Reid Concert Hall. Since then I’ve had a fantastically busy year pursuing a freelance career in arts management, education and performance across various art forms.
I was delivering a careers day talk at a secondary school last week, and when asked to define a freelance career, it really made me stop and think. I described it as a bag of pic’n’mix sweets! I’ve learnt three key things in the last 12 months; you have to be prepared to try new things, remember not to give up when things fail and most importantly to take responsibility for everything that you do.
It hasn’t all been plain sailing! Having graduated and enjoyed a busy summer of musical commitments, the new intake of freshers had moved to Edinburgh, and I could no longer use the “I’m on holiday" excuse. I was three months in, had sent hundreds of cover letters, failed numerous job interviews, thought about a career change before I had even begun, sought advice from numerous professionals and then found myself in the early stages of this manic yet fantastic world of a portfolio freelance career.
In October, I joined the cast of 16 Singers, an immersive theatre experience for babies and their grown-ups. It captured the attention of tiny spectators using breath, rhythm and song, and by blending movement with an intricate, moving set. We toured the length and breadth of England, experiencing lots of gurgling, smiling babies, many happy, relaxed parents and only a few tantrums along the way.
Intertwined with my touring schedule, I took on a project with St Andrews Voices, a choral festival that takes place in and around the town of St Andrews in October each year. In my role as an animateur, I delivered a series of musical workshops for children and their parents in collaboration with the acapella octet Voces8, responding to Pharrell Williams’ song ‘Happy’.
After a few months of interim administration work with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, I was offered the role of Festival Manager at the Aberdeen International Youth Festival. I now work half the week from my Edinburgh base and the rest in Aberdeen. The festival this year welcomes over 1000 performers from over 15 different countries, showcasing the best youth talent across music, dance and drama. Right now, I'm mainly getting my head around a mass spreadsheet of transport, accommodation, food and programming requirements.
The world is a mix of wonderful and different things, and I want to experience them all, without having to restrict myself to one job or one art form. Yes, in the not so distant future I will focus on one direction, but for now I’m a mezzo soprano, an arts manager and an animateur and loving every single minute of the flexibility and variety of my portfolio career.