New Faces and Sad Send-Offs

New Faces and Sad Send-Offs


Managing Director 

Back in December 2018 I wrote a blog welcoming the various staff who were starting with us. Well, a year or so later I’m doing another, as we’ve had another round of hellos and farewells. You’ll see many, if not all, of our team at Rush Hour concerts and events so I thought you’d all appreciate an update. 

Let's start with Development. Last autumn we welcomed Danielle Robson to the team as our Development Manager. In this case at least no farewell was necessary as this is a new role for us. Danielle came to us from the National Youth Jazz Orchestra and prior to that, the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment. Danielle’s not so secret skill is that she is an incredible baker, something to which the entire office can now testify… 

Isabelle Tawil, who many of you will have met during her contract with us, finished in December to spend a year travelling in Australia. Moving quickly on from how envious we might be, we were very happy to welcome Robert Grisbook as the newest member of the team in January. Robert is our Development Assistant and joins us following a spell in the USA where he completed a master's in Music Performance. 

The full forces of our current Development team: Jane, Danielle, Claire, and Rob

Moving on to the Projects team now – late last year we waved goodbye to Orchestra Manager Tom Hickman, who moved to colder climes to be the Orchestra Manager of the Royal Northern Sinfonia at Sage Gateshead. It’s worth saying at this point that as well as aiming to be a career springboard for musicians, we also hope we can be the same for our staff too, so while it’s sad to see colleagues go, it’s also fantastic to see them move onto exciting new opportunities and to see their careers flourish, hopefully having learnt a fair bit while here. Anyhow, Tom is replaced by Felix Lo, who travelled all of about a metre to the role, having been our Orchestra Assistant and Librarian before. We’re hoping that holding two roles now at Southbank Sinfonia will dilute Felix’s status as No.1 fan boy for the Philharmonia, who he worked for previously… 

Isabelle and Tom at the Anghiari Festival, Italy, in July 2019

He in turn is replaced by Crystal Feng who arrived here late last year. Crystal had previously spent a year with Manchester Camerata as part of her degree. Crystal’s unusual claim to fame is that she has starred in the Argos Catalogue. Oh and she actually appears to enjoy putting bowings in string parts too! 

Phew, almost there. Last but by no means least we welcomed Kate Walker as our new Communications Assistant. Kate recently completed a music degree at the University of Edinburgh and is busy making our social media just a ‘wee’ bit more Scottish. She’s also clearly already learnt the key skill of managing up, having been badgering me to write this blog in an ever-so-nice way for the last few weeks! 

Crystal and Kate on mulled wine duty at our Supporters' Christmas Party

We’ve two more farewells to finish with. First, our Administration Manager Peter Smith is moving on at the start of April after five years here. A lynchpin of the office, Peter knows Southbank Sinfonia inside out, from franking machines, through to Rush Hour wine, via the wonderful world of booking a cello seat on an airline that will actually be there when you check in. We’re going to miss his huge knowledge of the organisation, but also his humour, and yes I am including his withering put-downs in that!

The team at the Anghiari Festival, 2019. Farewell to Isabelle (top left), Tom (to her right), and Peter (second from top right)

Last but definitely not least, we said cheerio to Matt Belcher last month. Another long-standing member of the team, Matt, alongside revolutionising the public face of the organisation, (not least through our recent rebranding) also masterminded our ground-breaking #ConcertLab series from the start. In just a few short years he has done incredible things with the series and experimented with a whole host of new presentational ideas – famously blindfolding an audience, exploding a symphony and more recently masterminding our most complex #ConcertLab to date in FLUX, an incredible mix of music, drama and movement. Matt is going freelance now to inspire organisations and musicians beyond Southbank Sinfonia, but we hope to welcome him back from time to time to lend his creativity and bold vision to our musicians. 

Matt in action at #ConcertLab: Blindfold in April, 2018

Matt and our previous Orchestra Assistant Madeline redecorating the office in January, 2017

Ok, that’s a wrap for now. There will definitely be one or two new faces to welcome in the coming weeks, but lets hope my next blog on this job just might just be a ‘wee’ bit shorter!

You can read more about the Southbank Sinfonia team here, and if you see them about at concerts and events, please do say hello. 

Find out more about William here.