As a child, Andrew aspired to be like blue-donned David from the Hooley Dooleys and had dreams of learning the saxophone. However, this dream was postponed when he began learning clarinet. Nowadays, although his favourite colour is still blue, his passion has shifted from the Hooley Dooleys to one of minimalism, klezmer, jazz and postmodern music. We spoke to Andrew to find out a bit more:
Describe your approach to music in 5 words:
Play things that excite me (and the audience).
Why did you become a musician and why do you want to pursue a career in music?
Coming out of grade 12 I didn’t have any idea what I wanted to do. I investigated all the traditional options and considered law, economics, engineering and medicine but didn’t find an interest in any of them. Unfortunately at that time I also regarded the possibility of perusing music with the same indifference. However, after a year of studying clarinet at the Melbourne Conservatorium on a whim I began to deeply enjoy my time with music thanks to my chamber music experiences and studies with Paul Dean.
You travelled from Townsville to Brisbane for your clarinet lessons growing up, tell us a bit about that?
Between grade 8 and 12 I traveled from Townsville to wherever Paul Dean happened to be residing for lessons – about three times a year. This involved being picked up and sent to the airport by Paul, staying at his house where I would get lessons, and watching him pour a fistful of nut mix directly from the bag into his mouth. Without these trips I almost certainly would not be pursuing a career in music nor have any degree of ability on the clarinet.
This relationship with Paul began in quite an interesting way. He was in Townsville giving a masterclass that both my sister (two years senior) and I played in. My sister naturally had a perfect embouchure and as a result made a good sound, whereas I had developed quite an unhelpful embouchure (that took me about four years to correct!). However, my mother maintained that both my sister and I fly for lessons with Paul and over the years I eventually overtook my sister concerning our clarinet playing. She is now a doctor.
Do you have a pre-performance ritual or anything you like to do before you go on stage?
I don’t have any strict pre-performance rituals but before important solo performances I like to stretch; do some slow tone, finger technique, and articulation warm ups and also relieve myself of any needs regarding body fluids. For example by hydrating…
Who do you draw inspiration from?
I draw inspiration from varied places. As I’ve previously mentioned the strong association with Paul Dean has inspired a love and interest in music as well as the people that are involved with it’s creation. Over the last two years I’ve been greatly inspired by the minimalist jazz group Snarky Puppy. They often showcase their collective incredible sense of complex rhythms and overlapping time signatures in addition to the fact that they can play seriously complicated music and still move around and show they’re enjoying themselves. Also younger individuals performing great music to a high standard. It’s very encouraging to hear the standard that can be produced by musicians that are around my age or younger.
Find out more about all ANAM Musicians at anam.com.au
Photography by Pia Johnson