Catching up with AIMES Alumni Clarissa Dunn

Hello to all the members of the North Harbour Club, I hope this finds you safe and well, and in good spirits.

Since lockdown was announced I've been busy adapting weekly to the adjustments made by my employer Radio New Zealand Concert and to the arts landscape as it shifts online to connect with audiences. I was going in to the studio to record programmes until a few weeks ago. Now I am part of a 'home team' that will stay out of the building in case the office is contaminated and existing staff stood down for 14 days.

I've been collaborating with as many arts organisations as possible to share their content and report on individual creatives. I've been recording video introductions for The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra's 'Play our Part' series. I do miss sound proof studios. This week when I was trying to record some video intros it felt like everyone in the neighbourhood was out using their circular saw or belt sander, and when it's not the dulcet sounds of DIY it's family flushing the loo or the pervasive pounding of the Westpac Rescue Helicopter.

I have also been busy hosting livestreams from The Royal New Zealand Ballet, The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. It's been wonderful sharing lots of exciting ballets and concerts with people online, some who've never been to the theatre before. Making sure people have access to classical music has been really rewarding. We've had so many messages from anxious listeners admitting how much solace and joy they've received from the music. I miss being in the concert hall though. There's nothing quite like hosting these events live for the radio audience with a full house and the voices and instruments magically mixing in the air around you.

Other major events such as the Lexus Song Quest that I was looking forward to hosting have also been canceled or postponed. It's such a challenging time for performers and arts organisations who rely on audiences for their existence. Creative people are very good at adapting and making do, but it's very scary when many talented and deserving people have no work or even opportunities on the horizon. I will be curious to see how the arts sector and individuals adapt and evolve over the coming months.

Otherwise I am in my bubble, grateful for sunshine, music, the outdoors, employment and social media meet-ups. It's been nice to tinkle on the piano each day. The NZ Opera production of 'The Marriage of Figaro' that I was contracted to sing in has been cancelled so I've been singing to the plants I am trying to encourage in my autumnal garden.

Noho iho raa - stay well.




NZSO Play our Part, Episode 4

RNZ Concert website:


Clarissa was the recipient of the AIMES Education Award (sponsored by Kristin School) and Supreme AIMES Award in 2000