Your mission (should you choose to accept it)…

October 12, 2009

JANA PHILLIPS, ENO Baylis Project Manager

As a freelance project manager, I never know quite what I’m walking into when I take a job. And this job is no exception! The mission: to recruit a community ensemble of 50 people from all backgrounds, all ages, all walks of life to participate in ENO’s production of Messiah, directed by Deborah Warner.

My contract began on 1st September and from my very first day, I was focused on how to get the word out there about this amazing opportunity. I spent lunchtimes giving out flyers in Covent Garden and Church Street Market. I visited libraries and offices in Westminster. E-mails were exchanged with London Fire Brigade (about involving firefighters) and London black cab drivers! I found myself stopping people on the street and suggesting they audition!

My aim was to leave no stone unturned in the quest for a diverse and interesting group of people. Some marketing approaches were particularly successful: I received lots of expressions of interest from people working across Westminster Council, and the Royal Academy of Art clearly employs many opera fans!

I enjoyed looking through the completed application forms. One of the questions was: “Why are you interested in participating in Handel’s Messiah” and the responses prove that this moving oratorio is firmly embedded in the cultural psyche. It doesn’t make a difference if you’re religious or not; everyone recognises the uplifting sound of the Hallelujah Chorus!

Tomorrow is the final audition for participants for the community ensemble and I’m really looking forward to it. I’ll let you know how it goes. I feel like I’ve already started to get to know the people who are taking part and the enthusiasm and excitement is palpable. I’m sure there will be moments of exhaustion as we move through rehearsals and performances but I really think this is going to be an adventure! I’ll certainly know everything there is to know about Handel’s Messiah by the end of the final performance on December 11th…


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