Meet the team: Andrew Gordon

Meet the team: Andrew Gordon

Andrew at Opera in the Park, with Angus Simmons (left)

Andrew Gordon is New Zealand Opera’s Participation Co-ordinator. One of his major projects each year is going on the road with our Opera in Schools programme as tour manager. Andrew is also a freelance actor, writer and theatre director, and for this year’s Opera in Schools tour he directed his very first opera – The Magic Flute and the Broomstick.

Andrew’s connection with the arts started in a very practical way – working in a food truck at outdoor concert events – one of the first was The Rolling Stones at Western Springs. Shortly afterwards, on finishing high school, Andrew spent a year working at an international school in France.

“Part of my job there was to organise field trips for the boarding students over the weekend and a lot of these would include various places involving the arts; museums, art galleries, films etc.,” Andrew says.

Back in New Zealand, he worked as a drama tutor for a school holiday arts programme.

“This job had me organise the daily running of the drama classes as well as putting together the end of programme showcase the students perform for their parents and family.”

Then, about five years ago, Andrew joined New Zealand Opera, in what was then known at the Education Department.

“I was really drawn to the idea of working for a national arts organisation and being able to see and experience from within a company, how to create and facilitate phenomenal artistic pieces on a large scale,” he says.

“I am also an advocate for arts education and the chance to work within the education department of a national arts company was one I couldn’t pass up. One of the best things about my job is introducing opera to those who have never experienced it before, especially those who believe it is not for them, and then having them come away from a performance absolutely spell-bound and wanting more.”

His job sees him working alongside Joanne Cole in the Participation Team “organising and implementing ways in which we can engage with the wider community outside of the theatre to promote the wonderful world of opera.”

Some of these include: our national Opera in Schools tour; Explore Opera Workshops; Design Creative Workshops; backstage tours; running our Ambassador Programme; organising students to attend our dress rehearsals; as well as assisting with events showcasing some of our singers out in the community, such as Music in Parks. He’s a go-to guy in our NZ Opera team, and even took the stage in our 2018 production of The Elixir of Love as Dr Dulcamara’s driver!

Andrew in The Elixir of Love – photo credit Simon Watts

Andrew says the Opera in Schools programme is a highlight each year and one he’s really proud to be a part of.

“Taking opera into schools around the country is such a rewarding experience; we get to see first hand the impact the arts has on the future generation. It is also an opportunity to showcase how wonderful the world of opera is, and all the many opportunities that are available to students to be a part of in the arts, whether it is on stage or behind the scenes.

“Since my first year with the programme we have expanded into six more regions and this year I was very fortunate to be able to use my experience in the theatre to take up the role as director for this year’s Opera in Schools tour.”

Opera in Schools get ready to hit the road

Our Opera in Schools performers have many talents. As well as performing, they also are their own road crew! When they arrive at a school, the assemble the set before performing the show, then they pack it all back up into the van and head off to the next destination. We caught this practice run on camera.If you'd like to book an Opera in School performance, get in touch https://nzopera.com/opera-in-schools/

Posted by New Zealand Opera on Thursday, 20 February 2020
The Opera in Schools set is designed by Jan Ubels to fit into the back of a van – see the OiS team doing a test run!

Three good things

Staying positive

Andrew’s tip for staying positive during this time of disruption is keeping active.

“Even if it is just a walk around the block, a little can go a long way. I have recently taken up an old workout routine called Insanity (literally) and that’s helping. I realise how much less walking I do inside at home compared to a normal day out and about.

Also, finding ways to keep yourself mentally stimulated; for me the more creative the better. In our house we have been challenging ourselves to puzzles, my partner has started online art classes, and I have started reading more plays, which I love to do but never have the time.

Something to watch

I was shown this clip a few years ago and it mesmerizes me every time I see it. It’s called Destino and is a modern reimagining of a collaboration between Walt Disney and Salvador Dali, which was affected due to the impact of WWII and never got to fruition in their respective life times. However, a group of artists found their drawings, as well as the original song recording, and put together how they imagined the collaboration would have turned out.  

A recipe

I love to cook and at a time like this where I have more time at home I’m getting the chance to try all the recipes I have been meaning to get stuck into for a while.

This is one I had a go at the other day –  French Onion Mac n Cheese (got to love that comfort food), however, I’m not the type to stick to the recipe per se as I love to find ways to add to it to make it my own. With this I added sautéed mushrooms and capsicum, crispy bacon pieces and chopped up Louisiana style chicken tenders; a comfort food extravaganza!