Meet Chris, our Music Director!
After dropping out of high school, I joined a rock band doing the pub circuit. I grew my hair wild, wore spunky clothing and aftershave, drank, smoked, swore, contributing to the expected topics of confabulation. I kept this up for years. At the same time, a yearning was gnawing inside me. My girlfriend’s father was exposing me to other music. Mario Lanza. Bing Crosby. Johann Strauss. Gershwin, and others. I then rediscovered Mozart piano concertos. I bought a Yamaha grand piano and practiced like a maniac… My love for good classical music was returning with fervor.
I matriculated at Canterbury University to study music. I sat and passed my LRSM and FTCL in performance piano. And then, eventually, my Mus.B. was conferred. I did accompanying and jazz playing professionally. At the same time, I joined the Catholic Cathedral Choir. I was singing Palestrina polyphony, Bach passions, Haydn masses, Bruchner motets, and Britten anthems.
Next was the Anglican Cathedral choir, singing traditional English music, and, as always, psalm chants. I joined the opera chorus and various respected choirs in the city. I learned to play other instruments. My work as an accompanist was expanding; teaching, accompanying, and performing classical piano became my livelihood. My love for pub music, and all that went with it, was long gone. I spent a few years tearing around South-East Asia teaching English as a second language in Japan, China, and then back to Christchurch, but I was aching to get back to a professional music career. I got into conducting choirs 11 and orchestras, as well as writing choral and orchestral arrangements on the Sibelius programme for performances. I was promoting concerts. Around this time I became organist / Acting Music Director at St Michael’s And All Angels in Christchurch, followed by MD of two choirs – the South Brighton Choral Society, and the Risingholme Singers, as well as establishing the Christchurch Chamber Orchestra.
Over the last two years I directed Handel’s Messiah (choir and orchestra), The Mikado (full production), and The Pirates of Penzance, and other concerts and shows, bringing choirs, soloists, and the orchestra together as usual. I also conducted various classical period symphonies with the Chamber Orchestra – specializing in Mozart and Schubert. A highlight was to direct Mozart choral works for choir, soloists, and orchestra, and Mozart’s Exsultate, jubilate for high-soprano and orchestra. I have just moved to Auckland to do my Post-graduate Diploma in Choral Conducting with Karen Grylls, as well as voice with Robert Wiremu. I am expanding my work as an accompanist, teacher of classical piano, and jazz performance. I like where I am now. Although I enjoyed my rebel years, I could not go back to the pub scene, and all that soulless music.