A Wrexham Glyndŵr University Sound Technology student has kicked her summer off in style - helping to run the sound at a festival in front of a packed arena.
Toni Kilsby, from Preston, helped to set up and test equipment for the Haçienda Classical performance at the Highest Point Festival in Lancashire.
Haçienda Classical – now touring the country – involves an orchestra playing new versions of classic house records and has already featured in festivals across the globe, including the opening performance at Glastonbury last year.
Helping to engineer the set gave Toni the chance to gain valuable experience to boost her future career prospects – and also showed her some of the hidden talents of one of her lecturers after he sang New Order’s Blue Monday in front of thousands of people.
Toni said: “Working at a large event such as a festival, to me, was more fun than just being a festival goer.
“I loved meeting the whole team and having the privilege to work with such talented individuals. It was an entirely new experience for me, not just in terms of my live sound career, but because I’ve never seen a live orchestra before. Learning what kind of microphones the orchestra players used was very new to me and I’m sure I’ll never forget it either.
“I helped install all the different microphones used by the orchestra, as well as helping test each microphone and packing up all the equipment after the show.”
Wrexham Glyndŵr University’s focus on practical experience meant that – when faced with working in a live setting – Toni was able to draw on what she had learnt on her course and put it to use at the festival.
She said: “My studies at university definitely came to use during the event. In particular, my knowledge from the Live Sound module allowed me to understand better the equipment I was working with.
“For example, we were introduced to an analogue sound desk during class, which is the more traditional type of desk. Learning how to work an analogue sound desk allows for much better understanding when you come across a digital sound desk - which is what was used at the festival.”
She’s now advising others who are studying on similar courses – or thinking of applying to Glyndŵr to take up the Sound Technology course there – to seize the opportunity.
She said: “Students should take full advantage of the resources they have access to - asking your lecturers to notify you when an opportunity comes up is a good start. It is so important to take every opportunity you can get to build up your work experience, whether the opportunity finds you or you find it. All your work experience will build up and future employers will definitely appreciate your determination and motivation.”
Toni was offered the opportunity to take part in the festival by Wrexham Glyndŵr lecturer Graeme Park – whose pedigree with the Haçienda goes back a long way, and who has been performing with Haçienda Classical since the beginning.
Despite knowing of his long history at the heart of dance music, Toni still found watching one of her lecturers take to the stage at a festival an odd experience.
She said: “To be honest, it was weird. I was very aware that he was a DJ, so I expected it. However, seeing him sing was a shock! I was told last minute that he was filling in for somebody else. It was quite surreal seeing him sing Blue Monday in front of thousands of people. I had no idea he could sing!”
Graeme, a Senior Lecturer at Wrexham Glyndŵr University, said: “Our courses are very much tailored towards giving students the kind of experience that they need to succeed in their career.
“It’s something I have always been keen to encourage – in my teaching, particularly with our Creative Futures module, I draw on my industry experience to help students build contacts and gain experience.
“It’s through that sort of process that Toni got the chance to work on the sound for Haçienda Classical – where she did a great job.
“When you are performing, you rely on your crew. Every so often during the festival, from the stage, I’d see Toni in a high-viz jacket with the sound team off in the distance.
“She got great reports back from the team afterwards, gained valuable experience – and now she knows I can sing, too!”
Find out more about our BSc (Hons) Sound Technology.