Andrew Beer has been the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra's concertmaster since 2014. Originally from Canada, the violinist usually has a busy performance and teaching schedule but during lockdown, he's had a very special new pupil. Sort of. He and partner Michelle's first child, daughter Audrey, is now 19 weeks old and has been fascinated by her dad's music.
How's lockdown going for you? It's nice to have more time at home with our new daughter. I played piano as a child and I was doing that when Michelle was pregnant so I could brush up on the chords and the harmonies and play some Mozart, Debussy and Chopin but I've now introduced Audrey to live violin and she seems to like it. It looks like she is trying to move her hands and arms to copy me so that's fun to watch. I've been doing some more vegetable gardening, which is something else I enjoy and, being in Auckland rather than in Vancouver means we can grow far more here.
What music have you been listening to? We've of course been watching all the APO's online activities, including the videos for kids. We enjoyed the Berlin Philharmonic Digital Concert Hall, which was free for 30 days, and we always have RNZ Concert on when we're cooking or doing things around the house. We've played some jazz and some 70s and 80s rock and disco to expose Audrey to as much as possible. My favourite from that era? It's got to be Led Zeppelin.
And what have you been watching? With a new baby, there have been times when it's been busy and stressful so we're just looking for something light to relax in front of. That's been the Canadian sitcom Schitt's Creek.
What are you looking forward to about life after lockdown? The livestreams we've been able to do have been great and we can do some recording at home, but there's nothing like the power of 80 musicians coming together and performing live. You walk on to the stage and the adrenalin just kicks in from the excitement of it - so I have missed that, but we are starting to think about when we might be able to get back into the concert hall again and how that might look.
Orchestras around the world responded quickly to lockdown and to taking the music online. Why do you think that was? We are so used to performing live and recording music. Being in lockdown meant we couldn't do what we usually do but by making the music available online, it felt like a way to give back to the community.
Musicians from the APO this week came together online for a special performance of a piece from Bizet's Farandole from L'Arlésienne: Suite No.2 dedicated to the country's essential and frontline workers who have kept us all safe during the last few weeks. You can watch here:
Unable to hold its usual public performances, the APO restreams some of its most popular concerts every Thursday evening at 8pm. www.apo.co.nz/Encore-Livestreams