Ashleigh Ho is a passionate arts administrator with experience in stage and production management as well as marketing and media. She is a graduate of the Western Australian Academy of Performing Arts, where she studied stage management. Ashleigh is currently producing The Red Dust, a Chinese-Australian play for youth, with Marian Street Theatre for Young People.

Ashleigh is also a freelance social media administrator and copywriter for the education, not-for-profit and arts industries. Ashleigh enjoys involving herself in many different art forms. She plays the harp, is a keen improviser, and occasionally, will pull out her water colouring kit. In the future, Ashleigh wishes to either work as a producer or an administrator, creating brilliant marketing content for youth arts organisations. Or both!

Ashleigh Ho 2021 AYO Words About Music Participant smiles at the camera against a background of brightly coloured squares. She is wearing a canary yellow shirt and is wearing a backpack and glasses.

Q: What made you decide that you wanted a life in music? Was there a particular moment (an epiphany, if you like) that led you to this decision, or was the process more gradual?

A: Music has always been a big part of my life. My mum plays the piano, so some of my earliest memories involved me holding a Disney songbook, begging her to play so that I could sing along. 

I didn’t know that I wanted to work more closely with music professionally until university. Previously, I had just taken piano and singing lessons as a hobby and always assumed that a career in classical music existed only for the elite. In my third year, I had the opportunity to be the production manager for a double-bill opera. Working on this production made me realise that I really enjoyed the process of working with musicians – I also thought that working with conductor, Jessica Gethin, was so cool.   

Now, I get a nice balance of playing the harp as a hobby, whilst getting opportunities to immerse myself in the music industry on the administration side of things.

Q: What sort of working life in the profession are you aiming for? Do you have a picture of what you’d like to be doing in the short term? And beyond that? Has the pandemic affected the decisions you’ve made?

A: I used to be one of those people who planned their career meticulously, until their grave. But COVID changed that. Even though losing the job that I really loved was devastating, I learned to be flexible and started pursuing my other interests – particularly writing. I even made a writing portfolio! I’m now in a good place and get to work in a bunch of jobs that I enjoy. 

I don’t have a specific career path I want to go on. I have been trying producing, and am liking that, but I also love writing articles and creating marketing content. So, anywhere in those areas are enticing to me. I do know that I want to work in performing arts which involve young people. There’s something wonderful about creating shows that children can watch and be involved in. 

Q: Can you tell me about one of your favourite classical pieces, in your capacities as performer and/or listener? Can you tell me why you love this music so much? (You’re allowed to choose more than one piece!)

A: I like listening to a lot of Vivaldi. I feel that if I had lived in the 18th century, his compositions would have been the workout beats of the time – just because of how vibrant many of them are. If I had to pick one piece, it would be the Concerto for Two Violins in A Minor, Op. 3, No. 8. I feel like I also really resonate with Vivaldi’s work. It’s the music I put on when I feel like I need to tune out from the world for a while. 

I also love Debussy’s Claire de lune, but specifically played on the harp. I only started playing the harp three years ago, but one day I wish to play that piece. The piano version is okay, but the harp version brings out a completely different vibe – the sound, to me, is like windchimes. 

Q: What kind of role do you think the virtual space will play in the world of professional music-making in the next few years?

A: Music is very accessible in an online context. With so many social media sites having video features, many allowing for musicians to perform ‘live’, I believe that this has made classical music more approachable than ever, since those who normally wouldn’t come to hear a symphony in person, can now enjoy it from the comfort of their own home. I believe that social media invites those from non-musical backgrounds, and people who have never experienced classical music before, into a space which is often looked on by the public as exclusive.  

At the same time, with the current COVID restrictions, social media is a band-aid fix. But as a social media marketer, I think that finding a way to keep promoting music on these online platforms, even after the pandemic, will continue to open doors and invite a new type of audience into the concert hall.

Ashleigh Ho is an alumnus of the Words About Music program, AYO National Music Camp 2021.