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Clarissa began life as a free-range kid on a Waikato dairy farm but she dreamed of roaming further and traveling the world. After completing a conjoint Bachelor of Laws and Arts (languages) at Auckland University, she followed her passion and studied voice at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music in Australia. After completing the Developing Artist programme at Opera Queensland, Clarissa enjoyed years of musical adventures in Europe and the UK. These days, Clarissa is based in Wellington and sing with NZ Opera and The Sirens.
At RNZ Concert she leads the presentation team, helping our talented presenters and producers make the most of their time on air and she also hosts Music Alive, bringing listeners the best live music experiences from Aotearoa and the world. She says she loves being in the buzz of a live music event and sharing that excitement with our listeners.
It's wonderful to be able to transport people to different places via the airwaves - true 'theatre of the mind'. I'm very proud of our live music recording teams of producers and engineers. They're truly world-class with so many New York Festivals Radio Awards to their name.”
Clarissa is an in-demand MC, presenting some of New Zealand’s premier music events including the Lexus Song Quest, the NZCT Chamber Music Contest, The Big Sing and special events from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
Clarissa has many favourite composers and says she needs a little from each of them for a balanced musical diet. When it comes to live music, she says Aotearoa’s own performers and composers constantly surprise, move and inspire her. Three top concert memories are Wagner’s Ring Cycle operas at The Royal Opera House with Jon Tomlinson as Wotan, watching Kristjan Järvi conduct the NZSO during the 2020 Aotearoa NZ Festival of the Arts – “an electrifying experience” and seeing Tanztheater Wuppertal (Pina Bausch's company) dance to Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring during another NZ Festival concert. Clarissa says the performance made her hear the music as she’d never heard it before - with all its menace and violence and power.