• APO Concertmaster Andrew Beer. : Adrian Malloch

Performing in his neighbourhood

When Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s Concertmaster Andrew Beer discusses the prospect of selling his violin to the devil, he’s surprisingly animated. However, he’s not making a Faustian bargain himself; he’s referring to Stravinsky’s chamber work, The Soldier’s Tale, which tells the story of a soldier who trades his old violin for a magic book that can read the future.

“It’s a completely original piece of music,” Andrew says. “It’s got that kind of modernist accentuated energy, but also has some beautiful moments too.”

The Soldier’s Tale is being performed at St Peter’s Church in Takapuna on 11 June as part of APO’s ‘In Your Neighbourhood’ series which brings small chamber ensembles into the suburbs. It’s the first time the APO has presented the full work including a narrator (actor Kevin Keys), and Andrew says he is looking forward to it.

“Our In Your Neighbourhood concerts are not only a great way for APO musicians to work closely together and get to know each other better, but they’re also a chance to get to know our audiences better too. We often interact with the audience during and after the concert – the intimate settings are really enjoyable,” he says.

A native of Canada, Andrew moved to Auckland in 2014 to take up the role of APO Concertmaster (orchestra leader), and has recently moved to Albany where he is enjoying life as a newlywed with his wife Michelle. He’s also enjoying his newfound space, having moved there from Auckland’s CBD late last year. “I feel spoiled living in Albany now – the roads are wider and the power lines are underground, which really add to the sense of space you feel living out here.” He also admits that the move to Albany has been better for his practise too – whereas he would frequently receive noise complaints in his inner-city apartment, he’s now able to practise in the evenings without disturbing anyone, “and with the window open too!” he laughs.  

When he’s not practising or performing with the orchestra, Andrew enjoys tending to his sizeable vegetable garden. “I’ve always wanted to have a garden but I’ve never really owned land before to have a go at it,” Andrew says. “Also, in Canada you can really only grow crops for about four months of the year, otherwise it’s frozen over. The idea of being able to grow vegetables year around is amazing to me,” he explains.

He’s also a big fan of Takapuna café Little & Friday, which offers him a taste of home. “Being Canadian I love doughnuts, and I didn’t think New Zealand had good doughnuts, but Little & Friday’s are amazing.” Which is also another reason Andrew is pleased that APO is bringing more performances to the North Shore throughout the year: “I’ll be sure to stop by for a doughnut before our concert!”

Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra performs The Soldier's Tale

St Peter’s Church, Takapuna, 11 June at 6.30pm

Book at www.apo.co.nz/whats-on