Intern Blog: My Final Week - Meeting with Cleveland Orchestra Staff

POSTED: Jul. 15, 2020

I hope you all enjoyed our rebroadcast concert last Wednesday! Join us tonight (July 15) for our third at 7:30 p.m. EST here

I cannot believe it has been seven weeks since I started my internship. This is my final week at Kent Blossom Music Festival. Even meeting with the director all the time, there is still much I can learn. This week, I was able to meet with staff from The Cleveland Orchestra: Joan Katz Napoli, Senior Director of Education and Community Engagement, and Ilya Gidalevich, Artistic Administrator. It was a great opportunity to hear directly from our partners.

Napoli Katz shared some of the redevelopment efforts underway for the education programs. Due to COVID-19, it has become much harder for the orchestra to plan for the coming season with so many uncertainties. They are putting many materials online and have also come up with ideas to take care of those who are not familiar with digital devices. When we met with Gidalevich, he said that KBMF is part of the identity of The Cleveland Orchestra. Thus, same as with KBMF, TCO is doing everything they can to provide musical experiences and stay relevant with the community as much as possible.

I also learned a bit about how TCO usually plans for KBMF. For the artistic team, to expand that identity is always one part of its long-term objectives. I found this goal is shared between KBMF and TCO in addition to the educational component. Along with musicians from the orchestra, KBMF has consistently worked with the artistic and education teams of TCO to plan the orchestra week and facilitate goal alignment. How do we collectively bring the best educational experience to the young artists? While coaching sessions, master classes and lessons are important pieces, the orchestra week is another critical part of the education experience. Just as I found out about the planning process for coaching sessions and repertoire assignments, planning for the orchestra week is also much more complicated than I thought. This includes: How to schedule the orchestra week during the 5-week festival so that it does not conflict with coaching sessions? Who is the best conductor to interact with young artists to achieve the education goals? These are questions for the TCO’s artistic team and KBMF to consider when planning for the orchestra week.

For the past seven weeks, I have had a rich virtual internship experience. When I look back on my first blog, I said that I wanted to challenge myself with new responsibilities and experiences. I think I have met this goal. I have worked with colleagues on projects related to operations, planning and community engagement. At first, the virtual environment triggered a lot of issues for me, but gradually I learned to deal with them smoothly. Before starting this summer internship, I hadn’t been part of many marketing projects but KBMF gave me the chance to engage in a few. The people I met at Kent Blossom Music Festival are all very kind and I have learned a lot from each one of them. I really hope that I would be able to meet with them in-person at Kent State University when the festival comes back!

Written by Eva Zhang