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10 Questions with Marcus Norman

Our new General Manager talks about his musical beginnings, living in the UK and his journey to the NZSQ, and of course his love of coffee.

Photo credit: Kate Walker

1. Working for the NZSQ you must love music, so what’s your musical background?

Music has always been a huge part of my life, from singing in the car on family road trips growing up, then piano duets with Grandma as a teenager, to intensive conservatoire studies in the UK. I couldn’t imagine a world without music and feel incredibly lucky to be working in a field that I love. Although I haven’t played professionally for some time now, I still enjoy dusting off my clarinet every now and again for a surprise birthday video, or singing in choirs for the sheer enjoyment.

2. What was your first experience with chamber music?

Two memories stand out for me, the first as a wide-eyed primary school student who was entranced by a chamber group from the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra showcasing the colours and textures of instrumental music. The second at high school, as a member of a group competing in the annual secondary schools competition – I think I loved the social element as much as the music-making at that age.

3. You mentioned your conservatoire studies, what prompted you to move to the UK?

When I finished my studies at the NZSM and University of Canterbury I was keen to take my music performance to the next level, and a mentor of mine suggested the UK conservatoire scene as a brilliant next step for Masters study. I also have family over in the UK, so it was a perfect excuse to combine further studies and explore my British heritage while meeting the other side of my family! Not to mention the fabulous travel opportunities across Europe.

4. How did you come to arts management? What’s been your pathway to working with the New Zealand String Quartet?

Shortly after my studies in Manchester my love for arts management took over – I was always more intrigued by the process of putting on a performance, and loved the thrill of seeing a project come to life behind the scenes. Since working in arts management I’ve grown to appreciate even more the transformative power and potential that live music has. Before joining the NZSQ, I collaborated with an amazing array of artists, conductors, producers, and young people in project management roles with Opera North and Southbank Sinfonia – and eight years later I’m excited to return home to NZ and join the NZSQ family.

5. What were some musical highlights during your time in the UK?

Possibly one of the most powerful musical moments of my life was being a part of an immersive overnight 12-hour performance of Jesus’ Blood Never Failed Me Yet – a collaborative project with people experiencing homelessness, Academy of St Martin in the Fields, and Southbank Sinfonia. The raw emo