WASO production manager David Cotgreave is a man of many talents, which is fortunate given he has a lot to organise each year for Symphony in the City.
This year’s free annual event at Langley Park on December 16 will be Cotgreave’s eighth Symphony in the City, where he is responsible for everything from lighting, staging and food trucks to fireworks and portaloos.
“Believe it or not, it actually does get easier,” Cotgreave said.
“The biggest challenge was when we moved from the Esplanade down to Langley Park because we had to completely rethink the way we did the event.
“It still takes me about 12 months to work on, so the moment I finish this one we’ll debrief, I’ll collapse in a heap on the Sunday and then I’ll start on the next one.”
He said the greatest hurdle was the scale of the event, with golf buggies a vital asset to get him from one end of the park to the other.
“It’s a very large thing to set up and make sure everything’s working and everyone is safe,” he said.
“It can be up to 45 degrees on that park sometimes, which gets a little sticky, and it’s not just the event going on because we also have the webcast and regional broadcast at the same time, so there’s all that co-ordination as well.
“Even though I’m running around all the time, there’s always these moments where you turn back and just see 20,000 faces all looking at the stage completely rapt with what they’re seeing and it’s all worthwhile. With the introduction of the fireworks last year there’s a wonderful moment, which the orchestra get to see best, where everyone’s face is lit up from the fireworks as splashes of colour fire up the park.”
Cotgreave was born in Cheshire and moved with his family to Australia when he was 12 years old.
He studied film and television at Curtin University, where he learnt his technical background, before training as an actor at WAAPA.
“I freelanced for five years or so and kept getting more work in the technical arena until I started working at Perth Festival and I haven’t looked back,” he said.
Cotgreave has worked as a sport producer on three Olympic Games – Sydney, Beijing and London – plus the Commonwealth Games in Melbourne.
“Imagine when you see a sport presented; basketball is always a good example, so when you hear the sound effects and music, see the videos and score boards, there’s some poor bastard who sits in the middle of all that and tells everybody what to do – and that’s me,” he said.
“I like to get a bit of diversity and I’m big on bringing things back in to the organisation, different ideas and ways of doing things, so WASO is very supportive of me going out and doing extra stuff.”
What: Symphony in the City
Where: Langley Park
When: 7.30pm, December 16