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Cabaret adventure for HR receptionist and Music graduate

Thursday, 22 June 2017 9:08pm

Jason-Masters-Recital-image
Human Resources Receptionist Jason Henderson will be the first New Zealander to attend the St Louis Cabaret Conference being held next month.

Human Resources Receptionist Jason Henderson is about to take up a life-changing opportunity, heading to the United States to attend America’s largest cabaret training programme and then relocating to New York.

The University of Otago Music graduate will be the first New Zealander to attend the St Louis Cabaret Conference being held next month.

For seven days he will receive performance coaching from some of the world’s top vocal coaches, music directors, pianists, arrangers and performing artists, including Peisha McPhee, the vocal and performance coach for the FOX-TV series American Idol, Michael Orland, Pianist, Arranger and Associate Musical Director for American Idol and iconic singers Faith Prince and Maralyn Mae.

The opportunity is incredibly exciting, and one that Mr Henderson can’t quite believe he has been offered.

"My Otago music degree really raised the standard of my performance, and through it I met a lot of very kind and clever people."

“They say the unknown either sparks either fear or excitement. I’m slightly nervous, but I’m mostly excited!”

Mr Henderson completed a Bachelor of Music degree from Victoria University in Wellington before coming to Otago to complete his Master’s degree in Music.

“My Otago music degree really raised the standard of my performance, and through it I met a lot of very kind and clever people. I also staged two shows at the University for my Master’s assessments, as well as three shows in the New Zealand Fringe Festival (2016) and one show in the Dunedin Fringe Festival – so I learnt about the joys and trials of self-producing which has been very useful.”

Mr Henderson was nominated Most Promising Emerging Artist at the 2016 New Zealand Fringe Festival, and Dunedin audiences might have seen his show Coward in the Office which he performed at last year’s Dunedin Arts Festival Dunedin. In this show he teamed up with Music’s Professor Terence Dennis to transfer Noël Coward’s classic songs into the fluorescent glare of the 21st century office. He also performed There’s Nothing on TV in the 2016 Dunedin Fringe Festival.

Earlier this month he performed a farewell concert at the Playhouse Theatre, supported by the Division of Humanities Performing Arts fund.

He says his time in and at Otago has been wonderful – providing him with opportunities he would never otherwise have had.

“For a while I read news bulletins on Radio One, I won the 2015 Division of Humanities Film Competition and I joined the University Rowing Club. It’s been a real joy to get to do those extra-curricular things.”

"I’d like to get private coaching, and it would be great to get some performance in too – but the first job is to find somewhere to live, and a job to pay the rent!"

He took up his role in Human Resources in September last year, and says he will miss his colleagues when he heads away next month.

“I work with some very kind people and they seem to be excited for me, but claim they will miss me – which is generous of them. I have come to admire them for their hard work and genuine care and concern for their work.”

In New York Mr Henderson plans to see as much cabaret as he can.

“One learns so much watching masters in action. I want to see how Cabaret artists in New York (the hometown of the artform) are performing and telling stories. I’d like to get private coaching, and it would be great to get some performance in too – but the first job is to find somewhere to live, and a job to pay the rent!

“Living the past two years in Dunedin has been the best thing I’ve done. I’ve loved it and I will really miss it. If anyone is curious to see how it goes, feel free to come along for the ride – follow facebook.com/JasonHendersonOfficial.”