Over the next few months, we’ll be speaking to the OAE office team to find out a bit more about what everyone does (some people don’t realise how much work goes on behind the scenes of an orchestra!) and what makes them tick.

First to answer the quick fire questions is Clare Norburn…

What’s your role in the OAE office?Clare Norburn

I’m the Development Manager – Trusts and Foundations at the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment (You need a good intake of air to say that.)  I work part-time (3 days a week).

What does your typical day involve?

Most people think my job is probably one of the most boring in the office.  I disagree.  I’m actually a kind of matchmaker.  It is true that writing looms large in my typical day – I spend a huge proportion of my time writing to persuade people to give the Orchestra money.  Once that has been achieved, there is more writing to be done – I need to provide reports to demonstrate the good use we have put their money to.   I also spend a lot of time reading guidelines, researching who funds what and putting together budgets.

Above all, my job is like a big jigsaw puzzle – I have to tie up projects which need funding with funders interests.  I seek the perfect funder for the perfect project.  It’s sort of like match-making.  I need to pitch the application right too – I need to research how much they likely to give us and what timescale they work to – usually I need to apply at least 3 or 4 months before I will hear the outcome – so I have to be organised.    I also need details and feedback to make the case about why the project needs funding and the impact that it has had – so I also spend my time boring the other departments, Projects, Marketing and particularly Education with hundreds of questions that they don’t yet want to think about.   

Which mobile number do you call the most?

Outside my OAE life: my husband’s mobile.

Inside the OAE: my boss’s mobile (Duke Dobing) (Trusts don’t really do mobiles! Many still don’t do internet either.)

What – or where – is perfection?

A completely ticked off to do list (never happens) or a balanced budget.

A beautiful sunny day at Glyndebourne – with the OAE playing, of course.

Who is your favourite hero from fiction (book/comic/film/opera) – and why?

Fleur Talbot, the heroine of Muriel Spark’s novel “Loitering with Intent” one of my favourite books.  She’s a young novelist in London in the late 40s/early 50s, with her life ahead of her and she’s sparky and strong.  (It’s a kind of semi-autobiographical novel about Muriel Spark’s early life as a writer before she was successful.)

Which living person do you most admire (and why)?

Melvyn Bragg – he covers such a wide range of knowledge and skills – history, the arts, science – and he makes them all accessible without at all dumbing down.  I love his writing too – especially his semi-autobiographical books about growing up in a small town in the Lake District in the 50s.

What other talent or skill would you like to possess?

I’d love to be able to play the cello.

What do you fear the most?

Growing old alone.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

That persistence and commitment is all.

What was the first album you ever bought?

Pop: Blondie – can’t remember the album title but it had The Tide is High on it and the cover had Debbie Harry in very chic black shorts

Classical: hard to remember – remember pretending to be a swan under the dining room table to Swan Lake age 3 or 4 and dancing to Brahms’ Hungarian Dances.  Bought most of the Mahler symphonies in my teens.

What is the most played piece of music on your MP3 player or in your CD collection?

It varies – at the moment I’m listening to a lot of Troubadour songs in a recording by Boston Camerata.

Which OAE concert are you most looking forward to in 2010-2011?

The Handel programme with Alison Bury and Elin Manahan-Thomas.

What’s been the highlight of your time at OAE so far?

Can I have two please?

  • the open rehearsal when Sir Simon Rattle rehearsed Berlioz’ Romeo and Juliet
  • experiencing Beethoven’s 5th symphony with Iván Fischer at the Lincoln Center – one of the best concerts I have ever been to – I was on a high for weeks!