Steve Collins profile
Career Profile for Steve Collins, Director of Education, New Haven Symphony Orchestra
As an undergraduate student at an east coast music school, I would have been rather incredulous if told I would be the Education Director of a regional orchestra 15 years later. In fact, I don’t know that I even would have understood what the position entailed at that time. I was studying music intent on being a performer, period. In the years that followed graduation, my career took several turns, with performing and teaching music at its core. Gradually, my desire to gain more business experience and my frustration with a journeyman musician’s existence intersected. By the time I was eight years out of college, I was working full time for a commercial construction company as a project manager.
Managing commercial renovation projects up to one million dollars in size by day, freelancing with regional orchestras, theaters, and a variety of “casual gigs” by night, and taking short term teaching residencies from time to time was invigorating and extremely exhausting. I was learning a great deal about business administration, management, budgeting and finance, public relations, communication, honing my skills as a performer, and driving over 40,000 miles a year. The work was fascinating, but the dichotomy of a career in two very different worlds needed to be rectified. Clearly, something had to give.
Through my work as a percussionist with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, (a group 4/5 regional orchestra), I became aware of a job opening for Education Director. As if custom designed for me, here was an opportunity to build a career combining my experience as a musician, teacher and business manager. It was a perfect match, capitalizing on my varied experience and working with an organization I already knew to some degree, all within a 20 mile radius of my home.
Five years later, my position continues to be challenging and rewarding. There are endless opportunities to use my skills and varied background through finding creative solutions and the design and implementation of education and community engagement programs. Working for a small organization, my job responsibilities extend beyond my title of Education Director to include a wide range of functions including: fundraising, grant writing and reporting, concert management, artistic direction, communication, marketing, and performing.
In an increasingly competitive fund raising climate, never ending demands of our school’s administrators and teachers, and growing competition from within and outside the performing arts industry for client’s attention, the job seems to get more difficult with each year. And, more gratifying. At the end of the day, there is unparalleled satisfaction in knowing that I have contributed to making music an important part of thousands of people’s lives throughout our region, and in being an integral part of the performing musician’s community.