A Year in the Life of Our St Andrews Graduate Trainee


As we enter the new academic year at the University of St Andrews where the SCO is Orchestra in Residence, we sat down with Rufus Sullivan, our outgoing SCO Connect and University of St Andrews Music Centre Graduate Trainee for 2017/18, to reflect on his year working with us.

Tell us a bit about what the role involves

The everyday setup for the job revolves around the Orchestra in Residence activity in the University and surrounding community with things like the five season concerts, managing the St Andrews and Fife Community Orchestra (StAFCO) and other projects like Big Ears, Little Ears and SCO VIBE that come to the town. Outside of St Andrews I worked as project assistant across Scotland on various occasions as the SCO took different creative learning projects to schools and communities. For the University, I was also involved with spring tour of the Chamber Orchestra and St Salvator’s Chapel Choir and I was the producer for Byre Opera’s [the University of St Andrews’ opera company] touring production of Handel’s Xerxes.

What is special about the relationship between the SCO and the University of St Andrews?

The residency provides unique opportunities for the University’s students who benefit from interaction with the orchestra and its players in regular performances, masterclasses and student projects like SCO VIBE | St Andrews. The local community also benefit hugely from the residency getting world class music provision throughout the year! It is also a special place for the SCO musicians who frequently comment how appreciative the audience is in St Andrews, and how talented the young musicians of the University are! For me, it has been hugely rewards to work between the two organisations and continue to develop the blossoming relationship whilst learning from both.


What are you doing now that you’ve finished the graduate traineeship?

I have decided to make the daunting (but rewarding!) step to become a freelance arts and creative learning administrator. This year has been full of enjoyable and rewarding experience that I am going to take with me as I take on other projects both large and small. Aside from this, I want to keep working on my environmental group Green18 and hopefully expand what we’re doing with more events and outreach projects planned for the year to come!


Fife Primary School Project

It was so rewarding to take this project, which I helped to design and lead, to primary schools surrounding St Andrews to teach them about the coastal environment around them and introduce them to music and orchestras. The day was centred around the popular children’s book The Snail and the Whale and developed the ecology of the characters seen in the story in collaboration with Project Seagrass who are raising the awareness of the important seagrass ecosystems and how they are connected to so much marine wildlife.

Rufus Snail and the Whale


StAFCO is a wonderful collection of students and locals who all share a love of music and are keen to practise in an informal setting. It was an absolute joy to manage StAFCO this year bringing a musical experience to people who may otherwise never play their instrument again! I was even motivated to learn the viola, my first instrument, and played alongside StAFCO and the Youth Orchestra in Jurassic Park in May.

SCO Family Concerts | The Chimpanzees of Happytown

This year’s Family Concert was a huge whirlwind of catchy music, storytelling, bunting, face painting and celebration – I LOVED IT! Almost 1000 children came along to enjoy Chris Jarvis’ telling of the amazing Chimpanzees of Happytown story with full orchestra accompaniment. This concert and seeing the hundreds of children rushing around to make leaves for our tree, get their face painted and blast out a tune on one of our colourful trumpets was just brilliant to be a part of.

Rufus Chimpanzees

Our new graduate trainee is Melissa Jones and she is ready to answer any questions you have about the Orchestra in Residence. You can contact her by email on graduatetrainee@sco.org.uk.

To find out about upcoming events and projects in St Andrews, click here.