Life as a Buxton Festival intern

I returned to the beautiful town of Buxton after many years as a competitor at the Gilbert and Sullivan Festival, when I was a teenager. To be able to return to the town, to work at the ‘other’ festival has been a huge joy.

I have had the opportunity to operate the surtitles for I Capuleti e i Montecchi which has given me lots of experience in an area I didn’t have any before. My quick music reading skills have improved dramatically even in a short space of time and that is an invaluable experience I now have.

I was also given the responsibility of running the Gardens Marquee venue, at times when the Venue Manager, Jean, was working in the Pavilion Arts Centre. Jean was wonderful and was very trusting to hand over the reins to me! I hope I did a good job and thank her for giving me this experience.

I also have learnt a huge amount about the development of the Festival – taking part in post-show drinks with sponsors and corporate partners. Of course, I have thoroughly enjoyed getting to know all of the Friends of the Festival on numerous occasions, many of which I have worked with as front of house at the PAC, the Gardens Marquee or at St John’s Church. Their commitment and dedication to the Festival is unparalleled and I have had the upmost pleasure getting to know some of them.

Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed the experience as a Festival intern; one I will cherish forever.

Olivia O’Connell Festival intern 2016

Chatting with Festival supporter Mark Sutherland

During the Festival, I sat down with Mark Sutherland who is a great supporter of the Festival.

So Mark, could you tell us a bit about yourself?

I live in Sheffield where by day I am a career civil servant working in project management in the Department for Work and Pensions. Outside of work I enjoy travel, reading, drinking too much beer and wine, visiting museums and galleries, and attending opera and concerts. I regularly attend performances at the Royal Opera House, English National Opera, Glyndebourne Festival Opera, BBC Proms and Wigmore Hall. Occasionally I also write reviews of these performances for the website classicaldiary.com. I am also a member of the BBC Trust’s Yorkshire Audience Council.

How did you first find out about Buxton Festival?

I was introduced to the Festival by a friend of mine Norma Hird who also happens to be a member of the Festival Board. Knowing my passion for opera and the fact I attend operas in the UK and abroad it was Norma who suggested I come to Buxton. I was ashamed to say that I hadn’t been to the Festival despite it being on my own doorstep.

What attracted you to the Festival, and what was the first event that you attended?

It was the variety of events and Norma’s steer that attracted me to the Festival back in 2012. The first event I attended was Intermezzo – an opera by Richard Strauss. As a lover of Strauss operas I thought this was a fantastic production with Janis Kelly terrific in the lead role. It was also the first time I had heard the fabulous Northern Chamber Orchestra who play such a critical role at the Festival each year.

Is there a particular part of the Festival that you like?

For me the unique selling point of the Buxton Festival is that it’s really three festivals in one; a fantastic marriage of opera, music and books. I love the fact the festival showcases rarely performed operas. Each day is varied from the talks and concerts in the morning and afternoon to the opera in the evening and then the late night jazz which makes the Festival very special.

Do you book your tickets fairly early? 

As a benefactor of the Festival I make good use of the priority booking period. So this year I booked my tickets in February which was just as well as several of the events I booked including the 9am talk with Nick Robinson and Peter Hennessy, and the Oldie Literary Lunch with Joan Bakewell and David Aaronovitch sold out quickly. The great innovation this year was that priority booking could now be done online which in my view was about time too.

Have you attended every year since you first visited the town and Festival?

Yes, since my first Festival in 2012 I have attended every year. I now try and spend around 10 days at the Festival going to as many events as I can. In addition I have attended the Autumn Literary Weekend since it was launched in 2014 and also various Friends of Buxton Festival events both in Buxton and London.

During the last five Festivals I have had some great experiences watching the operas and attending some fine concerts. It has also been great to meet in person some of the literary speakers. Personal favourites have included Alan Johnson, Gyles Brandreth, Peter Hennessy and Jean Seaton, the official historian of the BBC, who I met many times at the BBC Archives so it was great to hear her talking about her research. Each year I am an enthusiastic user of Twitter giving my feedback on events I have enjoyed.

What attracted you to the Festival this year?

It was the usual mixture of rarely performed operas, established and talented young musicians, alongside a range of interesting speakers.

What was your favourite event and why?

That’s a difficult question as there is always so much great stuff at the Festival. In the opera series I really enjoyed Beethoven’s Leonore. As someone who has seen Fidelio, the opera that Leonore eventually became, a number of times it was fascinating to see the genesis of this masterpiece. In the music series a standout was the concert from celebrated pianist Stephen Kovacevich. The late night jazz concerts in the Pavilion Cafe just get better and I loved the gigs from Jazz At The Movies and Digby Fairweather’s Half Dozen. In the literary series Alexei Sayle was hilarious, Peter Hennessy entertaining in all three of his talks, and it was great to hear D J Taylor, a writer and critic I greatly admire. 

What would you say to someone who is new to opera?

Give it a go, don’t be scared. Opera is an art form for everyone not just the few. Many of the plots may be bonkers but the music and the singing will surely bowl you over. The glorious Frank Matcham designed Buxton Opera House is a terrific venue to enjoy a night of opera. Next year the Buxton Festival will be producing Benjamin Britten’s opera Albert Herring. This a great introduction for those new to opera. It’s a funny story, has some great music and is sung in English. Definitely give it a go!

What would you say to someone who is new to the Festival?

Enjoy all the Festival has to offer. Buxton is buzzing during July with the Fringe running alongside the main festival. Try and sample as much as you can whether it’s the opera, concerts or literary events. Buxton is definitely the “friendly” festival supported by a great Board of Directors and Executive Team, fantastic interns (some of whom end up working for the Festival full time!) and volunteers who all make sure you have a great time. I guarantee that if you come to the Buxton Festival, just like me, you will come back year after year!

Thanks, Mark!

Lucy Durack Development Director

Welcome to our interns!

Each year, the Festival welcomes seven interns to work behind the scenes, whether that be running the opera surtitles, page-turning, working front of house, managing artists’ riders or doing some social media (because we’re very social media savvy here), each day is varied and different from the last! I was an intern a couple of years ago at the Festival and absolutely loved it – the sheer variety of tasks and fast-paced environment; meeting new people and gaining new experiences. I’m really looking forward to welcoming our interns this year, and thought I’d have a quick catch up with them all to find out what they’re looking forward to at Buxton.

Verena Silcher

Verena Silcher

Most of all, I’m looking forward to being surrounded by music every day and to be involved in the day to day running of a large and exciting festival. The internship scheme is such a great opportunity to gain hands on experience and I’m really grateful to be able to find out more about how everything works and what challenges I’ll encounter. I’m particularly looking forward to operating the surtitles for Beethoven’s Leonore and since I’ve played the cello from the age of six, I certainly don’t want to miss Lionel Handy’s concert on July 21. Last but not least I’m looking forward to exploring Buxton and of course to meeting my fellow interns.

Olivia O'Connell

Olivia O’Connell

I’m eagerly anticipating my return to Buxton Opera House after spending my summers as a teenager performing on its stage. But, I’m equally as excited to work behind the scenes and with the creative and technical staff and hope to gain insight into the ‘other’ side of the glorious Opera House. I’ll be working on a new production of Bellini’s I Capuleti e i Montecchi – a variation on Romeo and Juliet – in the year marking 400 years after Shakespeare’s death!

Oliver Gildea

Oliver Gildea

I am very much looking forward to being part of the Buxton opera festival! I look forward to taking charge of the surtitles for Tamerlano and meeting lots of interesting new people whilst at the festival. I am very excited about the prospect of being able to work with and watch some amazingly talented musicians!

Philippa Ridgway

Pip Ridgway

I am delighted to be working for the Buxton Festival this year! I am excited to have a great festival experience, and I’m particularly looking forward to the opera productions, especially Tamerlano, and performances from Manchester Chamber Choir.

 

Emily Castles

Emily Castles

The Buxton Festival is a brilliant few weeks of literature, music and opera, and I am thrilled to be working at such a prestigious event and cannot wait to get stuck in! As a keen historian I am particularly looking forward to ‘An Evening of Murder with Dr Lucy Worsley’ as well as Josephine Wilkinson’s talk about the fifth wife of Henry Vlll, Katherine Howard. I am also extremely excited to watch David Crystal’s talk on Shakespeare and Claire Harman’s talk on Charlotte Brontë, exploring two of the biggest literary icons on their joint anniversaries through the eyes of the contemporary reader.

Matt ThomasMatt Thomas

I’m looking forward to actually watching one of the operas this year. For one reason or another, I didn’t manage it last year except for page-turning at the opera excerpts concerts.

 

 

Lee Moore

Lee Moore

I’m looking forward to being back in Buxton having done the internship last year! I’ll be working on the technical side of events, including microphone handling, stage set-up and sound checks. I like in particular the Music in the Cafe line-up this year.

We look forward to welcoming them very soon!

Lily Bracegirdle Executive Assistant

Internship programme 2016

Do you see yourself working in the arts? Want to gain some experience? Look no further!

In 2016 the placements will run from 4th July – 27th July in Buxton.  While the placements are unpaid we do provide simple accommodation in Buxton and £500 towards your food and travel expenses.

Being a Festival Intern can be a hugely rewarding experience that will help you on your way to a great job in the arts.  Past Festival Interns have gone on to work in a variety of settings including Wembley Arena, the Lowry Theatre and Buxton Festival!  Being a Festival Intern is also VERY hard work.  We are looking for enthusiastic, friendly, motivated people who will thrive on the long days, variety of roles and pressure of the Festival.

There are two types of internship available:

Festival Intern:

  • operating the Festival opera surtitles (some additional rehearsals w/c 24th June)
  • page-turning
  • stewarding events
  • front-of-house duties
  • venue set-up
  • general ‘running’
  • admin in the Festival office

Literary Series Intern:

  • venue set-up
  • front of house duties
  • liaising with authors
  • author meet and greet
  • general ‘running’
  • admin in the Festival office

You will have the chance to see as many Festival events as you can get to from world-class opera, to the best of UK chamber music to the famous faces of our literary series.

Competition for these exciting and rewarding roles is strong and places are limited.  If you would like to apply please send a CV and covering letter detailing which role you are applying for, and any relevant skills and experience you think you could bring to the role to lily@buxtonfestival.co.uk.

Closing date – 18th March 2015