Port Waikato man completes music degree at 73

Port Waikato's Andrew DuFresne has just graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Auckland, at the age of 73.
Natalie Polley

Port Waikato's Andrew DuFresne has just graduated with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Auckland, at the age of 73.

Port Waikato's Andrew DuFresne is living proof that you're never too old to learn.

He's got his sights set on a new career, at the age of 73, after graduating with a Bachelor of Music from the University of Auckland.

DuFresne majored in composition and it was the dream of working as a classical composer that encouraged him to break off his retirement and enrol in 2011 when he turned 70.

After a career as a civil engineer, DuFresne wanted to do something totally different.

He knew that he was passionate about classical music but had limited musical knowledge.

"I had thought about [enrolling] quite a lot. It was mainly because I wanted to compose classical music," DuFresne said.

"I had all these melodies running through my mind. I started off by teaching myself and getting help from a guy who had graduated, but that only went so far and I kept running into brick walls."

DuFresne said the final push to enrol came after seeing a friend complete a PhD in their mid-late 60s.

"I was old enough to be the father of some of the tutors," DuFresne said.

"I was the oldest student in the class, but the students were lovely, lovely people."

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Being in a classroom full of younger people, and being on their level, was an interesting experience for DuFresne.

"Normally with younger people you are their manager, or in a superior role, but we were on the same level and it was just fantastic. My partner, Barbara, said I lost 10 years the day I started university."

As well as his desire to compose opera, Du Fresne also enjoyed writing orchestral, vocal and film music.

"Composition is a long road but it shares some similarities to engineering. The composer, Borodin, was a chemical engineer," said DeFresne.

It was a busy four years, but he enjoyed the hectic pace of student life.

"I had no social life but I loved it."

 - Stuff

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