Have you ever wondered what happens behind the scenes of an organisation like WASO? We’ve decided to draw back the curtain and introduce you to some of our incredible admin team, without whom the concerts you enjoy would not be brought to life.
Name: Alistair Cox
Job Title: Orchestra Manager
Time with WASO: 8 years
What are the main responsibilities of your role?
Putting it simply, looking after the musicians; getting the right number of players, in the right dress, in the right place at the right time.
What do you love most about working at WASO?
The music. Sometimes I’ll close my laptop, stop work and sit in the Concert Hall to just listen to the orchestra play. It’s like my own private concert. I especially like when the orchestra ‘pulls out all the stops’. Experiencing the power and majesty of a symphony orchestra playing at ‘full tilt’ is like nothing else.
Any concert highlights that spring to mind?
There have been many – different concerts for different reasons.
The Brahms and Beethoven festivals were outstanding performances. The Karijini Experience included a very intimate and moving concert in the beautiful location of Kalamina Gorge. Touring with the orchestra is always good. The international tour to Abu Dhabi & China was a definite highlight of my time so far.
Latitude Concerts at the Astor were great fun with the orchestra playing contemporary music in a much more informal and relaxed setting.
What do you like to do when you’re not working?
I live miles away in Dawesville so am surrounded by water. Ocean one side, Peel-Harvey Estuary the other, so I go fishing a lot, either off the beach or I go out in the ocean on my boat. I also sail with a local club on the estuary. I like the open space and fresh air after being confined to the office and Concert Hall all week!
Do you have a favourite composer or piece of music?
If I was told that I had to choose one composer and that was all I was allowed to listen to, I would choose Beethoven. There is just so much scope to his work in so many different genres. I also like the fact that he pushed the boundaries, didn’t conform and rebelled against conventions in music.
If you could choose to do any other job in this company what would it be?
I would play the Bass Clarinet and conduct, like I used to do in my previous job. Prior to joining WASO, I served for 24 years in the Royal Marines Band Service. Starting as a Junior Musician in 1987, I finally achieved the rank of Warrant Officer (Bandmaster). Playing clarinet, bass clarinet and violin I was lucky enough to travel, play and conduct all over the world at state occasions and ceremonial events, concerts, tattoos and parades. It was a pleasure and a privilege to be part of such a prestigious organisation and if there is one thing that I miss the most in my current role, it is the playing and performing element.
What is your favourite movie?
That’s a tough one! I grew up with the ‘original’ Star Wars movies, being seven years old when the first one was released, then going to see The Empire Strikes Back at the cinema for one my friend’s 10th birthday parties. I’ve enjoyed watching them with my own son when he was a similar age and now get to see them again with WASO playing the soundtrack live. I love the fact that these films have endured across generations and still have the appeal and following that attracted a small boy, a long time ago, in a South Wales valley, far, far away…
Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
No – I wouldn’t inflict that on anybody. I like to think I’m not a bad musician, however… there is a popular perception that everybody from Wales (the so-called Land of Song) can sing. I think I am the exception to this rule! The enthusiasm is there but the result is often less than satisfactory.
Favourite travel destination or somewhere you can’t wait to visit and why?
I always look forward to returning to the town of Blaenavon, in South Wales, the old South Wales, the original South Wales, mainly to see my mother and sister. It will always be home and I miss the place and the people there. The country is rugged, wild and beautiful. The scenery is breathtaking and varies so much with the seasons, whilst the history, associated with the town and surrounding area, fascinates me.