Music student perfects the art of international event management

Melissa Caton (left foreground) and Shannon Dillon (lower right) in Ragusa-Ibla. Photo courtesy of Shannon Dillon.

Music business student Melissa Caton’s summer took an exotic turn when she found herself in Italy, working with some of the best musicians in the world.

Caton interned with Shannon Dillon, International Music House of Virginia president and Virginia IBLA Foundation director. This nonprofit Foundation hosts the IBLA Grand Prize, an annual international classical music competition Ragusa-Ibla in Sicily. The winners then go on tour in the United States and Asia.

“It is hoped that the intern can learn all the multiple aspects of the competition, everything from organizing the beginning stages to the final selections of our winners,” Dillon said. “This gives the intern a broader view of competitions, arranging transportation for artists, and scheduling performances each evening at multiple venues along with being the announcer.”

Dillon selected Caton for this position, known as the IBLA Scholar, through an application process. At the announcement of this new internship opportunity in 2015, Caton knew she wanted to pursue it. In 2016, when she was old enough to apply, she sent Dillon her resume, explained why she was a good fit for the internship, and asked for an interview.

“All anyone can do to achieve something is to do their very best; and that is what I did,” said Caton. “I studied hard, put myself out there, went for leadership positions with the idea that everything I gained would help me to achieve a successful future whether I ended up with the IBLA internship or not.”

And Dillon hired her. Not only did Caton work at the Ibla Grand Prize competition, but assisted with the Virginia portion of the of IBLA 2015 contestants tour. This included their April 28 concert at Radford University. Her duties included compiling information for the performance program, reserving practice rooms, aiding the artists with any musical needs, arranging transportation, creating and distributing voting ballots, and facilitating various forms of media advertising.

“I learned so much about what it takes to organize, host, and execute a competition/festival of this caliber,” Caton said. “There are so many layers. The completion and our Virginia concert are just the surface. The tour continues to several other locations, culminating with Carnegie Hall in New York. And not to mention the Asia tour! I have also learned about artist and venue management, all things that I could see myself encountering in my future. I am very fortunate to have had this amazing experience.”

Caton hopes to graduate in May 2017 with a Bachelors of Music. Her concentration is music business with minors in marketing and business administration.

Students in the music business program at Radford University have many internship opportunities to hone their skills like Caton did as the IBLA Scholar. Other internship locations have included Juilliard School Jazz Studies Program, Clair Brothers Sound and Stage, Sirius XM Radio, Soundcheck Nashville, Lipzz Production, Manning Broadcast, Across the Way Productions and AC Entertainment.

“We are pleased that our music business program students seek out and complete outstanding internships to help them launch their careers,” said Tim Channell, associate professor and director of the music business program. “We appreciate our regional, national and world-wide internship partnerships that provide an opportunity for students to prepare for this highly competitive industry.”

To learn more about the IBLA Foundation, please visit For information on Radford University’s music business program, click here.

Sep 7, 2016