This Mason student manages her talents on and off stage


George Mason University rising senior Alexandra “Ali” Coburn is an arts management major who loves working on and off the stage.

“Arts management was eye-opening for me [because] it’s so versatile, and it incorporates so well into my performing career,” said Coburn, who is originally from Houston, Texas.

Ali Coburn poses at Atlas Theater, where she works throughout the year
Ali Coburn poses at Atlas Theater in Washington, D.C. where she works throughout the year. Photo by Ron Aira/George Mason University

Coburn studied voice at the Potomac Vocal Institute and did work with the Washington National Opera at The Kennedy Center, where she made many lasting connections in the performing arts field. So, when she posted on Facebook about needing to complete volunteer hours for the Intro to Arts Management course, Erin Feng, the executive director of Capital City Symphony responded to her.

“[When] I started working for [the symphony], I told her that I would eventually have to do an internship as well. Just based off the work that I had done volunteering, she offered me an internship working mainly in development and operations,” said Coburn. 

Coburn’s responsibilities include creating content for their social media pages, various writing assignments, and designing their quarterly newsletter. Coburn designed the company’s first newsletter in five years.

“It's been a little bit intimidating because I have never done anything like working in an office before. Most of my jobs have been teaching kids,” said Coburn, who is currently the musical director and director of Handbell Choirs at Browne Academy in Alexandria, where she works with students in kindergarten through eighth grade. She also gives voice and piano lessons. 

“I've done a lot of teaching and performing, but never anything on the administrative side,” she said. “It’s a little nerve wracking being thrown into it, but I've really enjoyed everything I've been working on. This is definitely something I was meant to do.”

Although Coburn’s internship ended on August 31, she continues to work at Capital City Symphony as the executive director’s assistant.

“My goal in arts management, development, and fundraising is to create an atmosphere of younger audience members for opera, and just classical music in general. That’s why I enjoy working with Capital City Symphony,” said Coburn. “This internship taught me that happiness is where you choose to find it. It’s been a challenge to find my way, but now I get to work on stage and off.”

“It's a struggle sometimes to get people in the doors for classical music nowadays. I really admire that Capital City Symphony is multigenerational; it’s awesome that we are the first symphony that younger people are coming to. I love that I’m able to be part of a company that shows the DC community what true value classical music has for anyone willing to attend.”