I was honored to be recognized as one of Charleston's "unsung arts heroes" for 2016. Below is my portion of the interview with Bill Lynch, the Arts & Entertainment Writer for the Charleston Gazette-Mail. 

Behind the Scenes: Celebrating some of Charleston's unsung arts heroes

Bill Lynch, Staff Writer 

A lot of time, energy and resources go into building and keeping together Charleston’s Arts and Entertainment community.

It’s musicians, dancers, artists and actors, but also directors, producers, promoters and patrons who keep the lights on in our clubs, theaters and galleries, who keep people coming to our festivals and who help make Charleston and the valley around us a better place to live.

There are so many who have done so much.

The A&E section of the Charleston Gazette-Mail would like to recognize a few of the people who work behind the scenes to make our city a little more interesting and a little more fun.

Photo by Sam Owens

Shiva Shafii

What’s your organization?

 The West Virginia Symphony Orchestra: WVSO is an education and performing arts organization that serves the entire state of West Virginia with live orchestral music and educational programming.

It is one of the largest and oldest arts organizations in the state and each year performs for and educates over 35,000 residents.

 WTSQ 88.1 FM: The Status Quo is Charleston’s community radio station.

What do you do?

I am very fortunate to work for the WVSO as the Marketing Director. I have the fun job of trying to get people as excited as I am about orchestral music. This includes all of the WVSO’s social media, publications, publicity, website updates, e-blasts — pretty much any form of mass communication. My marketing partner-in-crime and best work buddy Amanda McDonald oversees subscriber ticketing goals and patron relations while I focus on single ticket sales. We’re a small team, so each of us wears many hats. In addition to marketing and public relations, I also book the guest artists that perform with the WVSO, so I get to meet and interact with a lot of really incredible musicians.

With WTSQ, I’m a radio host for “Bringing Sexy Bach,” a weekly classical music show geared toward guiding novice listeners through classical music by showing them what to listen for, and providing interesting context to better understand the music.

Creative/professional high point of 2016?

2016 was such a fantastic year … we launched many new projects that challenged a generalized perception of classical music as being inaccessible, so I can’t just pick one.

The announcement of a conductor search was such a complex, challenging process to navigate. It led to my idea of creating the campaign of the search centered around puzzle pieces, since it involved so many different components — looking for the next perfect fit for the organization.

The Emoji Listening guides developed by Matthew Murchison, myself and Auge+Gray+Drake Collective works gave audience members a visual roadmap to follow along during the concert, with stories told via characters and emojis of where they are in the piece.

The “One Month at a Time” collaboration project with Bill Lynch and Scott Christian in September showcased to readers the immense amount of talent the WVSO has on stage, and I also spent a ridiculous amount of time creating and designing the WVSO’s new website over the summer.

Personally, being one of the 30 participants invited nationwide to attend the League of American Orchestra’s Essentials of Orchestra Management seminar in Los Angeles, and getting to learn from some of the most brilliant orchestra executives this summer was a major highlight for me.

Low point of 2016?

My low point is tied with a high point. High point: I was asked to host a classical show resulting in “Bringing Sexy Bach,” which I’ve absolutely loved doing. Low point: I realized I’m quite the awkward radio host ... I’m working on it.

Any plans you can share about 2017?

The WVSO will be announcing the new conductor in 2017! I’m looking forward to going through the rest of the search process to find the perfect fit for the organization and the community.

Personally, I’m looking to turn “Bringing Sexy Bach” into a podcast and hope to launch it in January!