What's Happening at the Symphony

#OberTerns: Minions in the House

#TeamSymphony, meet Nick, one of two #OberTerns here with us for the month of January. Their jobs required them to be well-rounded superstars, and to Blog.

Winter Term at Oberlin gives every student the unique opportunity to complete an independent study project of their choice — some do internships, some travel, some sit at home and watch movies... the opportunities truly are limitless! I’m new to Oberlin this semester, so I knew that I wanted to start my Winter Term streak with a bang. One month seemed the perfect amount of time to explore “the other side” of the symphony orchestra model that I knew nothing about: the administrative side. With personal interests in community arts engagement and sustainable urban development, exploring the dual role of a symphony orchestra as a professional performing arts organization and prominent local non-profit institution has long piqued my interest.

So I emailed.

And emailed.

And emailed some more.

I ended up contacting fourteen different symphony orchestra organizations everywhere from Seattle to New Orleans to Chicago. I wasn't tied down by geography; having traveled very little, coupled by the promise of Oberlin’s deep pockets to fund me wherever I received an offer, I was willing to spend a month anywhere (though I would be lying if I said my choices weren't skewed towards warmer climates!). After a week of anxiously refreshing my inbox, I received an offer from the San Diego Symphony. I was overjoyed; not only would I get to spend Winter Term delving into a work environment I genuinely cared about, but I would get to escape winter! 

Never having been to California before, interning with the San Diego Symphony not only meant learning the ropes of a new work environment, but learning how to engage with a new community of people in an unfamiliar city. Living in the same small Midwestern town my entire life means that for the first few days, I was struck with bewilderment every time I saw a palm tree, open water, or a building taller than ten stories. I still don’t understand how people get so up in arms when it drizzles for twenty minutes. And why doesn’t anyone know how to drive on the freeway?

Despite the comparative culture shock, from my first moments in the office, I felt immediately comfortable. With Chelsea as our supervisor, she provided a warm welcome into the office. What struck me immediately was the positive energy that pervades the work environment here; everyone is upbeat, friendly, and dedicated to their task at hand. This made collaboration all that much more enjoyable, for Chelsea wanted us to approach this internship from a multi-faceted lens. She wanted us to not only be working with community engagement, but with education, artistic planning, development, and everything in between. Kayla, the social media manager with all the sass, put into perspective the role of social media in creating an image for the Symphony. Being immersed in every facet of the inner workings of the Symphony from the get-go painted a vivid picture of what this kind of work looks like.

Already as an intern I’ve gotten to hear some amazing music (classical and otherwise) as a part of the Our American Music festival. The innovative programming this season gives me hope about the future of community engagement with the Symphony and a much greater portion of San Diego. It is truly inspiring to see the Symphony’s commitment to expanding their narrative, continuing to do critical work on their position as not only a provider of exceptional classical music of the highest caliber, but as a beacon of democracy for the entire San Diego community. This is everyone’s symphony and everyone’s music to be heard and shared. It is this mission that gives me unbounded optimism about entering a future career in the arts. As an aspiring orchestral musician, it is all that much more gratifying knowing that the music you play is continuing to become more accessible to people of all backgrounds, regardless of socioeconomic status, racial demographic, or otherwise. I hope to carry and extend the mission undertaken by the San Diego Symphony and many other orchestral organizations into my own professional development.

For the Festival, I am especially looking forward to the January 14th concert, “Birth of Cool: A West Coast Jazz Salute.” As a newbie to the West Coast, I have immediately fallen in love with the culture, the people, the weather, and this wonderful city. Getting a taste of this distinctive style of jazz adds yet another dimension to a place that I have already developed a great affinity for. I am also excited for the January 20th/22nd “LA/NY” concert. I find interesting how this program explores different conceptions of the urban imaginary through four American composers with distinct voices. Approaching the idea of “the city” through four different lenses, to me, embodies the mission of this festival. This concert also features one of my favorite contemporary composers, John Adams. Should be a treat for all!

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