"Over two evenings, András Schiff and the OAE made Brahms and Schumann sound like new". Highest praise! twitter.com/ObsNewReview/s…
Our Marketing and Press Officer, Matthew Grindon, responsible for a lot of the content on this website and on social media, left the OAE team last week for pastures new. We put our Exit Interview questions to him…
Why did you apply to work at the OAE in the first place?
I wanted to work in music but in a way that still fulfilled my desire to be creative and write. This job was perfect for that. The people all seemed fun and laid back. Plus, making yourself stand out among other orchestras isn’t easy and the daring approach used by the OAE instantly attracted me.
What’s surprised you the most during your time at the OAE?
Our office looks out over the canal. Once I was sat at my desk just before Christmas and this guy cycled along and suddenly slipped and went head first into the freezing water. He and his bike totally disappeared into the darkness and didn’t emerge for about 5 seconds. That was a massive surprise. Izzy who worked here at the time ran out and helped him get his bike back. I felt sorry for him, but it was was brilliant. But, the biggest surprise of all has to be the video the office made on my last day, it’s hilarious and the best present I’ve ever been given. If you haven’t seen it yet you can watch it here.
Favourite item of food in the office while you’ve been here?
On one of my birthday’s Ellie Cowan and Sophie Kelland made me a cube cake. This was basically a cubed shaped cake based on my known fear of any food that comes in cube form. Though initially repulsed, this helped me to overcome my fear somewhat and the cake was delicious. Back when Natasha worked her she also made something delicious, I can’t remember what but it was amazing. Also Sophie made Conchita Wurst biscuits – that was pretty special. NOTE: since then, for my leaving cake Ellie Cowan made me this insane fried chicken cake. It’s because she knows when I get drunk I always eat this stuff. When they presented me with it I felt genuine fear that I’d have to eat 8 bits of fried chicken while everyone watched, like some kind of ritual.
What’s been your musical highlight?
When I first started I went to see the OAE play Danzi at Kings Place. Our Librarian Colin Kitching was sat next to me explaining bits and pieces, he’s great to sit with at a concert, it’s like watching a film with someone who’s got an embarrassing story about all the actors. I spent ages afterwards trying to find the music online and never could, which sucked. Other than that, the Vivaldi Four Seasons with Henei Oguike dance was well good. We worked really hard getting press for that and it all came together perfectly. The music and the dance was insane. Kati worked like a madman to get it how she wanted and it gave me a massive amount of respect for her.
And lowlight? (you may find a tongue in cheek way to answer this)
Don’t know if this bit in brackets was meant to be left in but I like the gentle warning.
I can’t think of one specifically, but it would have been Handel. Handel’s great and sometimes I love him, but if you’re not in the mood it’s like being shouted at by someone with bad breath.
What’s been your office highlight?
It’s always nice to hear what obscure 90s pop act Will Norris will start singing on a Monday morning. There’s a lot of office highlights, we normally have wine at the end of the day on a Friday, that’s always good and someone is usually acting like a cretin while Ellie films them for Vine. Izzy used to do this face like Predator when he takes his mask off.
Probably whatever obscure 90s pop act Will is still singing on a Friday afternoon. Apart from that, I bought this special back support in my first month here and it never helped at all. Last week Zen asked me why I was sitting on it, as opposed to fixing it to the back of the chair like normal. That was definitely a low point.
What’s the best pic on your phone (OAE related?)
This is a photo of Zen, Will and I at Simmons wine bar down the road. Press Manager Katy Bell took it after we’d had a few drinks, she’s got a good northern sense of humour and made me laugh with some comment but I can’t remember what.
If you were to nick one CD from the OAE’s shop what would it be and why?
Hmm, that’s a tough one cus I already nicked and sold all the CDs I wanted when Will was away. But I think it would be the Mahler Totenfeier, because I’d never heard that before a few months ago and I couldn’t believe how brilliant it was.
You’ve been writing the OAE arts blog ‘Current Distractions’ and the Night Shift arts blog ‘Keeping it vague’ for quite a while. What’s the favourite thing you’ve featured?
I really like the best of instagram feature on Boooom. I’ve included this a couple of time because everything it is always inspiring. I’m a big fan of Jeff Hamada who runs the site and always love everything he puts up. The other thing is this Songify remix of A Five Guys burger review. I love that song.
Has there ever been something you’ve wanted to feature but didn’t dare? Now is the time…
Yes. My favourite thing on the internet is Funky Forest. This is a Japanese film made up of grotesque and inexplicable sketches. If you haven’t seen it you should.
Do you think it’s an advantage or a disadvantage in a work place to have a really long walk to get to the toilets?
I’m glad you asked this. Initially, I would say an advantage because it gives you a minute or so to check your phone and that. The only disadvantage is if you have a visitor you know ‘a bit but not that a lot’ and you accidentally synchronise with them.
What advice would you give to those wanting to work in the arts?
Don’t be afraid of looking stupid. Learn to love the Sainsbury’s basic range.
If your new colleagues ask you what you miss about working for the OAE what will you say?
Definitely the people in the office.
Chocolate? Or a glass of wine?
Both. There’s a story behind this question, but you’ll have to ask Will Norris.