by Author Louise Henry

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Staff in the Spotlight: An Interview with Office Admin Assistant Chloe Lam

Every month, a different member of staff will be in the hotseat, interviewed by another member of the team. This week, we say goodbye to our beloved Office Admin Assistant, who’s been with us for the last year. Whilst we can’t say a proper farewell in person, it felt fitting to use this month’s staff interview to introduce you to Chloe Lam!

Tell us about your career history to date…

I don’t have the longest career history, but I began as a classical singer – with a special interest in Early Music. I’ve always been attracted to music from the baroque and renaissance periods.

In case there’s anyone else out there who doesn’t quite understand what Early Music is, could you elaborate?

So Early Music is essentially the music that came before Mozart, and looks quite different to what our every day orchestra looks like now. There was no one in Hong Kong making music like that at the time and I wanted to bring something new, so I decided to move to London to study.

I quickly came to realise just how broad the cultural sector is here. I was studying at Guildhall, and met a lot of drama students who really broadened my horizons. I joined Wind Up Penguin Theatre Company, who travel the world, taking their productions to refugee camps. We spent a few months producing a show, and took it to camps across Greece, performing to children and their families.

How did the children respond?

I think it brought some entertainment and escapism. It brought families together too; parents would be around in the background and began to stop what they were doing to see what was going on. We ended up running workshops afterwards, and stayed to chat to families. It completely changed my life. I realised that I could use what I’ve been learning my whole life to help people in different circumstances.

I can only imagine it’s the kind of experience that stays with you forever…

I went back a few years later as I really wanted to see some of the children again. Some of them recognised me and had continued to share the songs we sang together with other children in the camp after we’d left. The older ones began leading the others through workshops – it was so good to see how much they’d remembered.

That’s interesting, as it shows just how much impact a one-off interaction with music can have… Thinking about how that experience affected you, how did it impact your career choices afterwards?

It certainly made me want to pursue work with a community focus. I did a few traineeships a Stroud Green Festival, Brighton Early Music Festival, and Spitalfields music to gain more experience and learn about community projects. Then I applied for an internship at The Old Vic, working on community projects in Lambeth and Southwark, which was my first step into an area that’s not music, and I became interested in multidisciplinary art forms.

And then you found Youth Music…

And then I came across Youth Music and thought “that’s a charity I’d like to work for”.  I was really excited by the huge portfolio, strong network of music organisations and the mission. I really trust in the vision for music education nationally and wanted to be part of that change.

You’re leaving us soon, and we’re so sad to see you go, what will you miss about Youth Music?

The People. Youth Music is a very people centred charity - not just our staff but our grantholders and freelancers, too. I’m going to miss working with people who care about others, especially the young people in this country. The team are always striving to be better, working towards a greater goal, and that positivity is something you can really feel.

I’ve only been at Youth Music for a year, and I’ve seen how much we’ve grown. It’s not just work, it’s a community.

We’ve welcomed Debbie into our team this week to step into your shoes, what advice or message would you give her?

All ideas at Youth Music are welcomed equally, and opinions treated without judgement. I feel lucky to have been able to drive our environmental policy and values committee with freedom and support from my manger and colleagues.

I know Debbie has the same enthusiasm, and I’d encourage her to use those qualities - people will be receptive and support you. Small ideas can turn into something great!

Finally - what's next for you?

I’m going to leave the UK for a little while, to work with a couple of friends in the Netherlands. It’s a start up business and I’m excited to take my admin skills to help grow the business. When I come back to UK next year, I’ll be looking for another community focussed role!

And so we bid farewell to our lovely Chloe. She’s been the biggest asset to our team, and we’ll miss her terribly, but as many of our previous colleagues will attest to, you never really leave Youth Music…