Alumni Spotlight

Aisling Fitzgerald - Stage Manager

16 Apr
Aisling Fitzgerald

UCC Music graduate, Aisling Fitzgerald, is quickly making her mark on the world of opera and musical theatre. Since leaving college, Aisling has worked as a Stage Manager for award-winning producers in Ireland and the UK including The Royal Opera and The Royal Ballet in Convent Garden and Wexford Festival Opera. She is currently leading the production process of Cork Opera House’s summer musical, ‘The Wizard of Oz’ and will continue her longstanding relationship with Wexford Festival Opera in the autumn. Aisling talks to us about her time at UCC.

Course/subjects studied in UCC
BA Mus Music and English 2000-2003, BMus 2003-2004, HDip Ed Music and English 2004-2005

Best memory of University College Cork
My BMus major was in composition and I will be forever grateful to the breadth of mind of John Godfrey for allowing me the freedom to take on the mammoth project of composition, production, producing and creating that followed. I was never one to do things in any direct way and composing the music alone clearly not being enough of a mission, I composed the music to accompany a production I devised with a great colleague of mine from DTS, Evelyn Quinlan. We staged Brian Friel’s Lovers: Winners under a tree in Fitzgerald’s Park, where my lecturers and examiners were invited to sit on blankets with their picnic lunch whilst my music colleagues performed the accompanying music from within the little Ogham circle in the park. It was one of the most fulfilling moments of my early creative life.

How has your time at UCC helped you to get to where you are now?
In 2003, in the midst of my BA finals, I unexpectedly became involved with the transfer of a production of Jesus Christ Superstar from the Honan Chapel to the Cork Opera House. It was the foundation stone of my career in theatre and the birth of my first Theatrical Family. As a theatre practitioner, you find yourself born into several theatrical families (or satellites as my mother calls them) both at home and on an International level. It is only through my exposure to the Arts at UCC that I was introduced to the Cork Opera House, and launched into what has become one of the most important relationships of my theatrical life.

What is your advice to current UCC students?
Use your time at university to gain as much exposure as possible to real-world experience to complement your area of study. It is one of the few viable ways of employing your unique insights and creativity in your field whilst in college. Applying the real world to your study will allow you to see where you can progress, be it to a career or further study. The area of practitioner education is fast becoming a stalwart of successful learning. Studying in Cork lends the opportunity for you to immerse yourself in a dynamic and innovative hub of the Arts, Sciences and Technology. So whether you want to be a vegan chef, part of the development of groundbreaking stem cell research or write a new policy on how to protect Cork's historical legacy, get out there and see if that weekend part-time job can be combined with an area of interest to you.

What person/people at UCC had the most positive influence on you?
The friends I made in the Music Department Music At UCC were the people to instil the confidence in me required to survive the mayhem of college life, be it the cups of coffee and Kit-Kats in the Old Bar, the frantic scrambling of writing long into the night before deadlines and typing from 7.00am in the computer labs, studying for the listening exams in Ethnomusicology where my love of The Police will forever be imprinted or for Vivaldi’s Gloria where the opening movement will never sound the same after afternoons spent in a house in Gould Street. The camaraderie amongst my peers has been long lasting and they remain my greatest inspiration.

Were you involved in any Clubs or Societies?
In the days before MP3, and the heyday of mini-discs, I spent quite a lot of my time in the record (LP) library on the 3rd floor of the Boole, finding orchestral scores or piano reductions of orchestral movements and then finding the corresponding record to sit and listen to it and score read. That being said, the varying opportunities within the UCC Music Department meant that you could be playing fiddle with the Fiddlesticks in the Old Bar on a Monday night, singing with UCC Choral Society on a Tuesday night, tapping your foot to the Pop and Jazz Ensembles in Annie’s’ Bar, Sunday’s Well on a Wednesday night before treading the boards of Gorby’s on a Thursday night (for popular music research purposes obviously).

Favourite UCC legend or superstition
Let’s just say, I still walk around the perimeter of the Quad!

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