We are delighted to introduce Hannah Boron, who joined OUP’s Music Hire Library team in March 2017 and is based in the Oxford offices. We asked her to tell us what her job involves and chatted more generally about fantasy novels and how she would like to be Lara Croft.
What does a sheet music hire librarian actually do?
Some people are surprised, when I tell them what I do, that music publishers hire music to customers as well as sell it. Not all OUP music is available to buy. For large orchestral works like symphonies and concertos, for example, it often wouldn’t be cost-effective to print sets of parts to sell via music shops–but the music still needs to be available for people to access and perform.
That’s where the Hire Library comes in. We keep sets of orchestral parts (and sometimes vocal scores too) for a huge variety of works from composers as far back as Purcell and Monteverdi to those who are active now, like Bob Chilcott and Zhou Long. When a performing group wants to play an OUP work, they get in touch with us and arrange to borrow the parts they need for however long it will take them to rehearse and perform the piece, in exchange for a hire fee.
Some of the repertoire we hire out is also available for sale, which gives customers options, but if a performing group is only expecting to use the music once, they often feel it is better to hire than buy. Our customers range from small amateur ensembles to some of the UK’s top orchestras!
When did you start working at OUP?
At the end of March 2017, so very recently in relative terms! Somehow it feels as though it has been both shorter and longer than that, possibly because it’s such a friendly environment.
What is your typical day like at OUP?
I walk to work, which takes about forty minutes, and usually sets me up well for the day. The first thing I do, once I’m settled at my desk, is look in the email inbox and sort out the quote requests from the orders that can be booked immediately–and see if there’s anything urgent!
Then it’s time to assemble the orders that are due to be dispatched. The first batch of the day’s post is collected at 11am, after which I’m usually ready for a cup of tea! Depending on how many emails there are to reply to, it’s always good to spend some time booking returned music back into stock. There are often missing pieces of material to be chased up with customers too.
What are you reading right now?
I am a huge fan of Terry Pratchett’s Discworld books, and am currently reading The Shepherd’s Crown. The last thing I read was Angela Carter’s Nights at the Circus, which is an opulently fantastical book: her use of language is truly virtuosic.
If you didn’t work in publishing, what would you be doing?
I would want to be either a writer or a singer. I have completed and published one fantasy adventure novel, involving a bounty hunt for thief gangs set in a pseudo-Middle Eastern landscape, and am working on another one.
I have sung in various different choirs over the years but am currently concentrating on my solo repertoire, mainly in the musical theatre genre. My recent performance of “Whatever Happened to my Part?” (from Spamalot) at the Abingdon Music Festival went down so well that I made it into the final concert! I’m quite quiet a lot of the time, so people are often surprised when they hear me sing. Apparently I have an inner diva…
If you could trade places with any one person for a week, who would it be and why?
I don’t think of myself as a particularly hardy person, so I would like to have the experience of being someone who is physically adventurous. Being Lara Croft would be awesome!
If you were stranded on a desert island, which three items would you take with you?
An endless supply of pens and paper, my keyboard (assuming there was a power source somewhere)–and a complete set of Discworld novels.
Featured image: Hire Library shelves by Elanor Caunt. Copyright Oxford University Press.