Annie Sheen graduated with a BMus in 2010. After spending some time as a freelance singer, she is currently Project Manager for Children and Young People at Birmingham’s Town Hall Symphony Hall.
I originally went to Durham University to read music but decided to change to Cardiff half way through my first year. The course really attracted me as it was very diverse and you got to choose certain modules in every stage of your degree. I also wanted to be in a lively city that would offer me lots of varied performance and animateur opportunities. It's a great place for students too, as there is plenty going on. It has a great union and lots of different types of clubs, bars and cafes. The music scene is very vibrant and there are plenty of things to see, do and get involved in.
The year after I graduated I worked as a freelance singer and singing/drama animateur in Cardiff for companies such as Welsh National Opera and the Wales Millennium Centre - I had made great connections with both these companies by volunteering there during my student years and being a dedicated member of The Welsh National Youth Opera. My first professional singing role was actually with WNYO - I was asked to cover the role of Somnus in their production of The Sleeper at the Tete a Tete Opera Festival in London. This was followed by a role with Dumbworld Opera Company in N. Ireland and so I moved to Belfast for a while to rehearse and perform in their production of Postcards from Dumbworld.
Probably the biggest highlight from my time at the School of Music would be the friends I have made. We have all gone on to do very different, exciting things but we still remain in close contact.
The experience in Belfast made me realise that a professional career as a singer wasn’t for me and so I came back wanting to gain more experience in arts management. I secured the role of Producer with Dragon Opera'r Ddraig which is a great company in Cardiff run by young people for young people. The role was mostly voluntary but gave me all the experience I needed. I was lucky enough to secure a managerial position with the 2011 Census which was flexible enough to allow me to do both jobs and stay afloat financially. Arts Management is incredibly competitive and I realised I needed to make my own opportunities. I continued with Dragon Opera'r Ddraig while also setting up my own performing arts summer school in west Wales with some friends from Uni. Both these things allowed me to gain a huge amount of hands-on experience and cemented my wish to move into the Music Education sector.
I moved to Berlin for a couple of months in June 2011 and then began applying for arts jobs all over the UK. I was very lucky to secure the role I currently hold in Birmingham with Town Hall Symphony Hall's education and community department. If you want to see the types of projects I devise and deliver please visit our website and view our advocacy film: http://www.thsh.co.uk/learn-and-join-in/
Probably the biggest highlight from my time at the School of Music would be the friends I have made. We have all gone on to do very different, exciting things but we still remain in close contact. Other highlights would be conducting Blank Verse girls choir for 2 years, being introduced to some of the best singing teachers I have ever worked with and acting as social secretary for the Music Society which required organising Freshers week and the annual music ball! The moment I found out I had got a First was pretty great too even though I couldn’t stop crying!
I would recommend the School of Music to prospective students. There are plenty of opportunities and the course choices when I was there were broad enough to cater for lots of different interests. Like all Universities - you get out what you put in - and this doesn't just go for your academic studies. The librarians and the porters are brilliant and most of the staff are very supportive!
Describe the School in three words?
Stimulating, Eclectic and Fun.