Seventh Semester Internship: Ruby's Reflection

Words by
Ruby Shirres
ANAM Seventh Semester Musician


When General Manager Nick Bailey called me to propose that I program and coordinate a week-long residency for the Cousin Quartet* mentored by ANAM Studio and Faculty Coordinator, Qian Ying Ong, I didn’t hesitate! The opportunity came out of an idea that I had brought up in my seventh semester meeting very early in the year, in which I’d asked if I could use the six months to learn and grow in a more complete way, delving into the sides of music that we often don’t learn about at a performance training institution: programming, liaising with faculty, scheduling and coordinating projects, marketing, operations and artist management.


I set aside time each week to work on the program and gradually watched it take shape. It was an inspiring schedule filled with coaching by faculty members, rehearsals, side-by-side mentorship with ANAM musicians, private lessons, participation and performance in classes, and a final open masterclass and showing for Musica Viva Australia alongside Chamber Music mentor Sophie Rowell and ANAM colleagues Jen Yu, Grace Wu, Elliott Plumpton, Nadia Barrow and myself.

When the Cousin Quartet finally arrived at the Abbotsford Convent one very rainy Monday morning in April, I was so excited to finally meet them. I felt nervous... this was the moment when I would watch the program we had created for them either thrive or crumble. It reminded me of the feeling of walking onstage after six weeks of practice to perform for a live audience, except this time I had a fraction of the training and no prior experience to fall back on. The one thing that always makes a good program is wonderful people, and between the energy of the quartet, the ANAM musicians, faculty, staff and audience there was no chance that the program could falter.


I have never done so much running around, locking and unlocking rooms, last minute music printing and emailing to finalise details for operations, marketing, catering, rehearsals and room bookings. There is a joyful buzz you get from working on a program and then watching each piece fall into place, witnessing personal interactions and most of all eavesdropping on exclamations of surprise and excitement after each tutorial or class.

I have learnt an enormous amount from this internship and gained experience in arts administration, event management, marketing, collaborative planning and donor engagement. I’d like to thank everyone at ANAM for giving me this invaluable opportunity, and especially Qian for patiently answering all of my questions and teaching me about Excel spreadsheets! Playing chamber music teaches young people so many vital skills in participation, attentive listening, clear communication and mutual respect. Coordinating this program has been the best deep dive into making meaningful programs happen.





*The Cousin Quartet were recipients of the 2020 ANAM Prize in Musica Viva Australia’s Strike A Chord national chamber music championship

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