For an "official" biography, please download the relevant files from the list on the left.
In some circles I am known as an organist – and in particular as one who specialises in historic organ repertoire; other people know me as a harpsichordist and ensemble director – notably as Artistic Director of Age of Discovery. More recently I am to be found performing on fortepiano and clavichord. In toto, I think this makes me an ‘early keyboard specialist’.. but there is more.
In a parallel part of my life I have an academic position as Head of Early Music Studies at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. This role includes teaching historic keyboard and Historical Performance Practice at undergraduate and postgraduate levels, as well as being part of the music theory team and directing the student ensemble Collegium Musicum Auckland. Current research projects cover the fields of keyboard pedagogy, articulation marks and musical figures in works of J.S. Bach and keyboard transcription practices.
Beyond the worlds of early keyboards and academia, I have a long association with church music – as Organist and Director of Music at St Patrick’s Cathedral, as former Director of Music at Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland, and through my work with New Zealand Youth Choir, where for 13 years I was Deputy Music Director.
How did all this come to pass? As a pre-schooler living in the small town of Mosgiel (just outside of Dunedin, in the South Island of a small country called New Zealand) I expressed to my parents my determination to be an organist when I grew up. Less than 10 years later I started organ lessons and was introduced to the world of the harpsichord. At the tender age of 16 I was eagerly building my very own clavichord – from a kitset purchased with my life savings. Surprising though it seemed at the time (apparently), the instrument was completed, and it was a source of inspiration for me for years to come. During this time I met up with some equally intrepid recorder players; an ensemble was formed, and concerts and a precocious audition for Radio New Zealand followed – with me borrowing a harpsichord and working out how to tune it by trial and error – largely the latter, I suspect.
My application to study organ performance at Auckland University was, in retrospect, more or less inevitable, and alongside that was the chance to apply for the newly established organ scholarship at Holy Trinity Cathedral. What followed was six years of intense study (organ first, and then harpsichord as well), of fast growing up, of recordings, performances, concerti, and of falling in love with the beauties of Anglican Cathedral music. Little did I know at the time that this rich cosmopolitan musical environment was to be the story of my life for decades to come.
Overseas study followed, and I had the good fortune to spend two of the most stimulating years of my life in the rich multi-national environment of the Royal Conservatory, den Haag, where I experienced teaching and playing of the highest order, where I was able to ‘sort myself out’ musically, and where life-long friendships were forged with musicians from all around the globe.
The 1980s were truly a time of ‘first performances’ – less than a decade after the first iconic original-instrument recordings of Harnoncourt and Leonhardt; I still look back on those years with awe, as I remember the pioneering spirit of the Early Music movement ‘back in the day’. To have been part of that vintage was and is a privilege that I cherish on a daily basis.
Returning to New Zealand to the position of Director of Music at Auckland Cathedral in 1986 saw me carve out a career as a church musician, with early music ‘on the side’. After 8 years of excitement, inspiration, and frustration I moved on, to a temporary position at Auckland University – one which, very fortunately, was followed by my very first ‘real’ full-time job, at the tender age of 40.
And what a job! Expanding the early music programme – a task that has involved commissions for baroque strings, flutes and a multiplicity of keyboards, developing specialist early music courses, and, more recently, embedding early music into the core curriculum, has resulted in an environment in which enquiring minds are enriched by new possibilities. Alongside the teaching sits the research, which includes CD recordings, international recital tours, conference papers, and [in process] a book! Along the way I have developed lasting friendships and professional relationships with colleagues from more or less everywhere.
Years as Deputy Head of School (my current role), Head of School, and Associate Head (Performance) have given me leadership skills and insights into humanity that transfer into the ‘real world’ and enable me to cope with rather crazy workloads most of the time…
Age of Discovery, which I founded in 2006, provides further outlet for live Early Music performance in New Zealand. This ‘baby’ of mine has the potential to grow into something of great value..watch this space!
And now St Patrick’s Cathedral have me – initially as Organist, where I celebrated the chance to play on a decent mechanical action organ ( all too rare in NZ), but now also as Director of Music. Here I am, back at the beginning (but not giving anything up along the way), establishing a professional vocal ensemble – ensuring that the patrimony of fine music is nurtured, and planning the establishment of children's choirs (who will be taught real skills) – to ensure that we have educated singers and organists in the future – and thus the cycle might at some point repeat itself….