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Rachel Deloughry – Scottish Music Centre

My placement at the Scottish Music Centre was eye-opening and refreshing. It was a broad, multi-genre experience, much like my professional activities to date in which I am continuously performing, teaching and organising festivals.

On the first day, I got acquainted with the friendly office staff and was shown around the impressive City Halls. Initially, we made a plan for the 5 days. Together with Gill and Jamie, I discussed my interests and past experiences as well as aspirations for the future and how they applied to possibilities for my time in Glasgow, a conversation which was very open-ended with infinite possibilities, but we managed to come up with a well-rounded to-do list for the 4 and a half days.

I got a taste of archiving rock, pop, classical and contemporary music. A major component of the Scottish Music Centre is its archive – both physical and digital. I got experience in both of these by seeing how scores are made and stored and I helped with binding some music scores of contemporary composers. I did some digitization – scanning and archiving some rare unique scores and converting some old audio cassettes into digital files to be stored in the Scottish Music Centre’s database.

Gill arranged for me to meet with various people. One of them was Oliver Searle, composer and lecturer at the conservatoire. Together, the three of us discussed many interesting topics. I had a chance to get some inspiration for my Blue Clarinet festival that I have co-founded in the Netherlands. I got some very interesting insights and Oliver gave me some contacts, such as the Scottish Clarinet Quartet, who I have since gotten in touch with about future projects across Europe.

I met with Rhia, who, as well as working at the Scottish Music Centre, is also involved with Sonic Bothy, a contemporary music collective, with the mission of finding a professional performance platform for intellectually disabled musicians. Rhia is also the membership officer, and I teamed up with her to send out invitations to the 80th birthday celebration of the composer John McLeod, which will take place next month at the Scottish Music Centre.

I had the chance to listen to Scottish performers! I went to a concert of the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra playing Mahler’s 9th Symphony, a mammoth masterpiece that has a huge place in my heart, as well as Arvo Part’s Cantus in Memoriam Benjamin Britten – a work that left me completely enchanted. I also got to hear some of Scotland’s young talent - I went on tour with Hit the Road. This initiative organizes tours for young bands aged 14 – 19 years of age. I joined for the Dundee part of tour and was thoroughly impressed by the high standard of playing as well as the ethos of the project as a whole. Hit the Road, which gives teenagers professionally-organised concert tours around Scotland, installs huge self-confidence in the young musicians, raises the standard of music performance and creates musical opportunities for the future, all through experiential learning.

There were several people that I planned to meet, but our timetables did not coincide – however afterwards I got in touch with them via email, namely Nicola Killean from Sistema Scotland, clarinettist Alex South and composer George Hair. This is extremely valuable and I am continuing to learn from this network of musicians, composers, performers, educators and music managers. Meeting the Scottish Music Centre office team on the first day was, in itself, a fundamentally significant part of the placement because I can draw up so many similarities and parallels between their careers and mine as we each enjoy (or have at some point enjoyed) the role of music-maker and performer, yet over time became more and more drawn to what happens “behind the scenes”.

The work placement was an enriching process which helped me to re-focus my priorities. The “crossgenre” theme ran through the whole experience, meaning that it was a good match with my interests, as I had been hoping. Since I am a multi-tasking freelancer I tend to juggle many aspects of the music profession, meanwhile spending a few days at the Scottish Music Centre reminded me of the importance of the section of my career that I wish to pursue the most. I aspire to build on my career in cultural management, and thanks to the European Music Council, this placement scheme has brought me many steps closer to my goal in a short time.

Rachel with Gill Maxwell and Jamie Gilmour from the Scottish Music Centre