Music Director: Andrew Withington
M Mus (Hons) [Auckland], MusB (Hons) [Canterbury], ATCL, GDipT
Andrew began his career in choral conducting when he was appointed
Musical Director of the Christchurch Boys’ Choir in 1997. During his time as
Director, he led the Choir on a very successful overseas tour to Kurashiki,
In 2000, as Senior Scholar in Music at the University of Canterbury,
he completed a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours Degree majoring in
conducting children’s choirs, orchestration and analysis, and was awarded the
prestigious Vernon Griffith’s Prize for Outstanding Musical Leadership.
After three years teaching, he moved to Auckland and gained a Master
of Music with First Class Honours Degree in Performance Choral Conducting,
studying with Associate Professor, Dr. Karen Grylls. During his Master’s
programme, he majored in conducting secondary and tertiary choirs, and
represented New Zealand in a masterclass at the World Choral Symposium in
Kyoto, Japan. During his time in Auckland, he was also Choirmaster at King’s
Preparatory School and Assistant Conductor of Key Cygnetures at Westlake Girls’ High School.
In Christchurch, Andrew has had a long association with the
Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival where he has been the conductor of both
the Junior and Senior Representative Choirs – choirs comprising 100 students
auditioned from the Canterbury region. He is currently responsible for
conducting the 1000-voice Massed Choir combined with the 100-piece Orchestra.
From 2003 to 2006, Andrew was the Assistant Musical Director for Elise Bradley. In August 2008, Andrew was appointed Musical Director of the
prestigious New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir. Under his direction, the
Choir has performed concerts in Palmerston North, Christchurch, Wellington,
Hastings and Auckland. In July 2010, he led the Choir on a very successful tour
to Canada. At the Kathaumixw competition, the Choir received ‘The People’s Choice
Award’, first place in the adult mixed choir competition, second place in the
youth choir competition, and second place in the folk and cultural tradition
Currently, Andrew teaches in the tertiary sector at the New Zealand
Graduate School of Education, a teacher training institution for graduates.
Before this, he taught high ability classes at Cobham Intermediate School where
he was also Head of Music and Director of the Chorale and Chamber Orchestra.
Andrew has sung Tenor in Voices New Zealand (New Zealand’s leading
Chamber Choir), and in the New Zealand Youth Choir. He is in high demand as a
choral adjudicator and clinician, and has been involved as a tutor at the
International Summer School in Choral Conducting.
Principal Accompanist: Brent Stewart
Brent Stewart studied
at Auckland University, Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand
School of Music. He holds an AMusTCL (Music Literacy), Post Graduate
Diploma in Education, and a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours in
Brent has extensive experience performing and
touring both nationally and internationally. He has performed and/or
recorded as a concerto soloist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra,
Orchestra Wellington (formally Vector Wellington Orchestra), Wellington Youth
Orchestra, and the Auckland Philharmonia.
In 2012 he led a treble
choir, Cantala from Wellington East Girls' College, on an international tour
through Singapore, London, Paris and Vienna. In Vienna, Cantala came 1st
equal in the Summa Cum Laude Youth International Music Festival. Another
highlight of his international travels include performing in a season of The
Phantom of the Opera in Japan as Principal Percussionist.
He regularly performs with the
Royal New Zealand Ballet, the NBR National Opera and is the Assistant
Conductor, Sub-Principal Percussionist and Associate Timpanist of Orchestra
Wellington. Brent is also Musical Director of the Hutt Valley Orchestra,
will conduct the Wellington Chamber Orchestra for their final season this year,
and is the Head of Music at Wellington East Girls' College.
Principal Vocal Consultant: Rachel Alexander
GradDipTchg (Secondary), BA
Rachel studied at
the University of Auckland and completed her Master of Music in Vocal
Performance in 2006.
Rachel is currently singing with NBR Opera New Zealand chorus having joined
them in 2005. She was a member of the New Zealand Youth Choir from 2005-2007 -
touring with them internationally in 2007. In 2011 Rachel attended the 9th
World Symposium on Choral Music in Argentina as a member of Voices New Zealand
Chamber Choir (since 2010). She is also (since 2001) a member of the Auckland
Chamber Choir (formerly University Singers), Viva Voce (since 2008). Rachel has
performed each group as a chorister and a soloist.
As well as performing regularly, Rachel has been employed as a teacher of
singing since 2005 and currently teaches classroom Music and co-directs both of
the singing groups at Green Bay High School. Rachel is also the director of the
Senior Choir and is Vocal Consultant to the St Cecilia Singers at Diocesan
School for Girls.
Guest Vocal Consultants, April 2013 Rehearsal Course
As an experienced choral singer, and member of the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir in 2003-2004, Benjamin Caukwell has sung in
the New Zealand Youth Choir and currently sings in Voices New Zealand Chamber
Choir and the Christchurch Cathedral Choir. He studied performance Voice,
graduating with a Bachelor of Music degree with Honours from the University of
Canterbury in 2008, going on to complete a Master of Music degree under Isabel
Cunningham and Terence Dennis at the University of Otago in 2011. He has won a
number of awards including an Arts Excellence award from the Dame Malvina Major
Foundation, has appeared as soloist with many musical organisations and has
sung with NBR New Zealand Opera. He teaches singing in Christchurch, aspiring
to make a career as a Oratorio and Opera baritone singer.
Acheson (mezzo soprano) grew up in Christchurch, singing in vocal groups
including the Godley Scholars at the Christchurch Cathedral and the
New Zealand National Youth Choir. After leaving in 2002 to travel in Europe and
pursue training in early music voice, she was accepted into the National
Youth Choir of Great Britain and worked with professional
Edinburgh-based vocal ensemble the Dunedin Consort. Helen returned to New
Zealand in 2005 and has since completed a BMus and PGDip in performance voice
at the University of Auckland and a GradDip Tchng from the University of Otago.
She now lectures in singing at Unitec in the Performing Arts Department,
teaches singing privately and as an itinerant at various Auckland
schools and runs two choirs. Helen also performs freelance on a
regular basis as a soloist and with groups including Voices New Zealand.