This past summer, I had an amazing opportunity to write program notes for the Eastern Connecticut Symphony Orchestra (ECSO), a professional symphony orchestra that performs at the Garde Arts Center in downtown New London. Program notes are typically blurbs in the programs classical music concerts that tell the audience the history of the music they’re about to hear, and what they should look out for when listening to it. Through my work with the symphony, I’ve been able to make important professional connections and learn more about the world of arts administration, all while writing about and listening to some great music.

The ECSO publishes one program book per season, so I had to hand off my notes by the middle of September for editing, layout and printing before the first concert in late October. I wrote most of my notes during the second half of August because I didn’t want to be burdened by their completion when I restarted classes. It was definitely a challenge to bike home from a full-time job and put pen to paper, but I eventually accepted this as a great way to get ready for the serious academic writing I knew awaited me once classes started.

Now that the season is in full swing I’ve been using my involvement with the ECSO as a means to learn more about the world of arts administration. Getting to know the staff in charge of the symphony has helped me learn about the work that goes into producing the symphony’s concerts and associated events. Over spring break, I assisted with the symphony’s concerto competition as a stagehand. The event took place on campus at Evans Hall. In addition to getting experience assisting with music recitals, I also met many incredibly talented musicians, all less than five years older than I am! I also recently attended a rehearsal for an outer-space themed concert at the Garde, the first time I’d ever seen a professional ensemble rehearse.

Having the opportunity to work with and see the inner workings of a symphony orchestra has been a worthwhile and enlightening professional experience, and it has opened doors for me. Like many of my peers, throughout this year I’ve been contemplating what I’m going to do this summer: will I land the internship of my dreams or return home and work again? Last fall, I ran into my career advisor at a lecture and told her how worried I was about the future. Her response was that I should just keep doing all the things that I’ve been doing (and blogging about) this year, and that eventually an amazing opportunity would make its entrance. Well, I’m happy to report that she was right, I recently accepted an internship offer with the Glimmerglass Festival, a summer opera festival in Cooperstown, N.Y. I’m looking forward to a summer of meeting more amazing people, seeing great performances, and making wonderful memories.