BY STEPHANIE ESLAKE
One year ago, we had a chat with Nick Slaney – a pianist who took on the challenge of creating a new music venue for early career musos in Melbourne’s inner northwest.
In the time since, his vision has been realised and is this year continued by a team of talented and innovative emerging artists who are hosting the 2017 program of events, Concerts at St George’s.
To learn about their journey into making a music venue, we are bringing you this new interview series so you can find out more about the industry skills involved in this performance project. How do you curate an event? What’s involved in sponsorship, time management, and social media? These topics and more will be explored in CutCommon’s Making a Venue series, and in this story we pick the brain of Concerts Coordinator Natasha Lin.
Natasha came on board with an invitation from Concerts at St George’s co-founder Leonie Thompson, who left to pursue ambitions overseas. Natasha, a concert pianist and music educator, is preparing for the Concerts at St George’s Friends of Music Series’ first event with cellist Lachlan Dent this January 22.
What does your role of Concerts Coordinator involve?
When the music series first started in 2016, the Concerts Coordinator at St. George’s looked after all necessary preparations for the concert curation of the series, which included invitation of performers, promoting their concerts, approaching sponsors and everything else in between. Outside of the music series, the Concerts Coordinator also handled all hall bookings for music concerts. I had a few ideas in mind at the beginning of taking on this role specifically for the music series, and being that I’d prefer to work with a team and that these big ideas need many hands to make it all happen, I am very grateful to have the assistance from fellow musicians who share the same passions and vision as I do. As I now have a strong team of five for the music series (now known as the Friends of Music Series), I now have the support to make this all happen.
Since taking on this role, the position of the Concerts Coordinator has naturally expanded within the team environment. My role can roughly be divided into three large categories: concert curation, team coordinator, and digital content management. This is in addition to closely liaising with the church so that all information is communicated clearly.
- Concert curation involves the scouting, invitation and management of performers;
- Team coordination involves the delegation of tasks, overseeing task initiation, procedures and outcomes for the team;
- Digital content management is the creation of a website for the series and management of digital content on the series’ Facebook page. This was one of the biggest tasks, alongside team management, for the Concerts Coordinator role this year.
What’s your starting point for getting a concert off the ground?
Know your audience – and know your hosts. This fundamentally ties in with the why, who, what and how a concert can run smoothly. I was also able to tap into my experiences from teaching and from hosting my own performances. Essentially it boils down to knowing why we do what we do. A strong mission statement and knowing what is our long-term vision for FOMS within the wider community underpins this rationale, and that is to support emerging musicians by establishing St. George’s Anglican Church as a quality performance venue.
As a curator, how do you choose artists – and music – for your series to resonate with your audience?
Aside from performer credentials and experience, what I am more interested to know is who the musicians are beyond their musical identities. I was very fortunate to spend some quality time with all of the performers featured for FOMS – either over a cup of coffee, beer, or over the phone. For me, that is an important perspective from the audience’s point of view – you go to a concert, hear and watch the music unfold, but what makes it unforgettable is who did all this and the stories behind each face. As for the music styles, I ensured that the performers approached would already have music that is suitable for the venue, and I communicated this intention clearly to them. Fundamentally, knowing what makes people tick, what drives them, what are their passions, how they can inspire us to keep striving, to me at least, is fascinating.
What are some of the challenges involved in managing a small team?
We are all such great friends together, I daresay the biggest challenge in managing the FOMS team is keeping our meetings on track with the agenda! I am very fortunate to be working with a group of very genuine, talented and capable musicians.
What lessons have you learnt about coordinating events through your experiences with Concerts at St George’s?
I’ve learnt so much through my role as the Concerts Coordinator! The bottom line is, a sense of humour and compassion goes a long way! It’s also fun to keep looking for different ways in understanding and perceiving things, ideas and ways of doing tasks – i.e. be creative and imaginative. Keep being quirky. But I won’t go without saying that coordination, fundamentally, requires a high capability in communicating succinctly, clearly and tactfully – although we may be speaking the same language, we use and perceive messages in vastly different ways.
How does it feel to watch the event you’ve worked hard on come to life in performance?
It is a very rewarding experience! The FOMS team is absolutely ace, and everyone has been so instrumental (pardon the pun) in making everything happen. It really plays well to have all our strengths matched with our roles. I am very excited, and proud, to present all the talents Melbourne has to offer with this year’s Friends of Music Series!