Andrew playing music with his niece and nephew
Andrew Crooks is our new Head of Music and the latest addition to the New Zealand Opera team. Originally from Dunedin, Andrew spent the past decade living and working overseas and returned to New Zealand earlier this year as the world locked down due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
As a young musician in Dunedin, Andrew’s first professional engagement was treble soloist in Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms with the Dunedin Sinfonia, conducted by John Matheson. Having studied piano, oboe and German at the University of Otago he ventured to the United States where he pursued post-graduate studies in conducting and opera coaching. This training led to him working overseas for the past decade – first in Europe and then back in America.
“The core of my operatic professional life so far was in Berlin, where I worked for both the Deutsche Oper Berlin and the Komische Oper Berlin from 2010-2017. In both cases I was involved in playing for chorus rehearsals and preparing the chorus, and was responsible for any chorus music appearing in the 20-30 different operas every season,” Andrew said.
“Since leaving Berlin in 2017 I’ve been working as Assistant Professor and Musical Director of Opera at Lawrence University (Appleton, Wisconsin, USA). I hope that this combination of professional and educational experience will serve this particular NZ Opera role very nicely.”
As Head of Music, Andrew is the key musical liaison for the Company. He will also lead the Dame Malvina Major Foundation Studio Artist development programme, helping to train the next generation of young Kiwi singers.
He says he loves the challenge of an artform that requires many different components to come together, and especially working with singers.
“I’m particularly passionate about the great singing and singers emerging from New Zealand.”
Andrew is currently preparing to be Chorusmaster for Semele, and enjoying the chance to be nearer to his family and close to the New Zealand outdoors. Following Semele, he’ll be focusing how his role will contribute the future of opera in this country.
“I think New Zealand has so many opportunities to make opera more accessible. I’m intrigued to see how I can help with this.”
The trailer of an innovative double-bill that I worked on at the Komische Oper. Stravinsky’s Petrouchka and Ravel’s L’Enfant et les Sortilèges
Book recommendation: I highly recommend Richard Power’s “Overstory”… awarded 2019 Pulitzer Prize