Tag Archives: School of Music

Consortia welcomes a new director in 2017

The Consortia: The University of Canterbury Chamber Choir 2017 has welcomed a new director in 2017.
Susan Densem began her musical training in Christchurch, singing and playing the piano, violin and clarinet. She completed a BA in music at the UC School of Music and a Dip Mus and BMus in Voice at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music. She has taught singing and other instruments, both privately and at schools, in Aotearoa New Zealand and Australia. She is currently an Itinerant Teacher of Voice at Burnside High School .

Consortia Choir
Susan Densem

Susan’s professional singing career has spanned more than 30 years. She has performed as a soprano soloist for many choirs and orchestras in Aotearoa New Zealand and overseas and as an opera singer here and in Australia. Most recently she sang in Acis and Galatea with New Zealand Opera and for the City Choir and CSO in Missa Pacifica and the Faure Requiem.

As a chorister, Susan has sung in many choirs including the New Zealand National Youth Choir, the Jubilate Singers and the Queensland University Chamber Singers. She sang with Voices NZ from 2001-03, and returned to the Voices NZ 16 in 2014.

As a conductor, Susan has worked with a number of primary and secondary school choirs. She has had national success with her choirs, winning the Platinum award at the NZ Choral Federation Big Sing Finale four times, as well as receiving many Gold awards. She has been the musical director of renowned Christchurch chamber choir, the Jubilate Singers, for the last two years.

UC Presents International Flute Symposium 2017

This Waitangi Weekend, UC School of Music presents the International Flute Symposium 2017, featuring internationally acclaimed flautist Emily Beynon .

The Symposium is being held at Rangi Ruru Girls’ School and includes a Gala Concert where she will perform with other local and international artists including:

  • UC School of Music Flute tutor and Christchurch Symphony Orchestra principal flute Anthony Ferner
  • James Kortum (Lecturer in Flute, Sydney Conservatorium of Music)
  • Bridget Douglas (Principal Flute, NZSO.)

The Symposium marks the beginning of an exciting new era for the UC School of Music as teaching and performance activities are relocated to the Arts Centre this month.

The International Flute Symposium 2017 is a three-day Symposium packed with masterclasses and performances drawing on the expertise of some of the world’s best players brought to Christchurch by the UC School of Music.

flute player
Emily Beynon. Photo: Roland Krämer

Emily Beynon is a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in London and is a highly regarded performer and teacher with a long history as principal flute of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam. She also performs with many other orchestras across Europe. A passionate and dedicated teacher, Emily is regularly invited to give masterclasses internationally.

Associated artists James Kortum (Lecturer in Flute, Sydney Conservatorium of Music), Bridget Douglas (Principal Flute, NZSO) and UC School of Music Flute Tutor Anthony Ferner (CSO Principal Flute) will join Emily to perform in the Symposium Gala Concert on Sunday evening featuring works by composers including Otar Taktakishvili, Georges Hüe, Toru Takemitsu and UC School of Music Associate Professor Chris Cree Brown.

For more information on the Symposium click here or contact Anthony Ferner ajferner@gmail.com ph 021 244 4023. A Flute Symposium daily and half day observer fee is available.

The Gala Concert starts at 7pm on Sunday Evening, 5 February at the Merivale Lane Theatre, Rangi Ruru Girls’ School, 59 Hewitts Rd, Merivale. Tickets are $40 Adult, $15 Student, Door Sales Only.

Welcome to the new Head of Performance in the School of Music

Professor Mark Menzies has recently joined UC as the new Head of Performance in the School of Music, so we thought we would find out a little bit more about one of our latest recruits. 


Q: As a former alumnus of UC, are you a native Cantabrian or do you hark from elsewhere in New Zealand?
A: I was born and raised in Hawkes Bay until I began my studies at Canterbury at 15 years upon being granted special permission to commence a BMus at that early stage.

Q: Which aspects about this new position at UC interested you most?
A: The potential for growth with new artistic ventures and partnerships in a city whose recent tragic experiences have at the same time generated a very obvious climate of opportunity and need for the contributions from artists; the University of Canterbury, with its richest of cultural and intellectual history, along with its inspired move of the performance music, along with the classics department, to the centre of town at the Arts Centre, has given us – the rich community of musicians and artists in Christchurch – a unique platform to make a ‘whole lot of noise’. If we do it right, we will be seeking to become a become a major hub of culture in Australasia.

Q: What has been the highlight of your performing career and why?
A: I know I have been extraordinarily blessed in how my life and career have gone, and the wonderful and ongoing inspiration I am given at seemingly very moment. The first time I stood and played on Carnegie Hall’s stage is one such unforgettable moment; likewise the stage of Disney Hall in Los Angeles.

One that would easily qualify would be the last time I played a recital with Maurice Till at Canterbury University. By then in a sprightly form of old age, through various circumstances, most of the programme was completely new to him. Of course he learned it with impeccable grace and style; his influence on my musical thinking, practice and generosity will never dim, and this recital was a superb moment to remember this by.

Q: What do you enjoy most about teaching young musicians and what benefits do you get from teaching?
A: You’ll never imagine the extent to which the questions, and insights, of young(er) minds can bring you what you might be looking for, or simply inspire you. Also, I teach employing a healthy dose of collaboration which means the student(s) play alongside myself, and other colleagues (as long as they will also enjoy the process!): even at the incipient moments of their developing careers, the energy and inspiration that students can bring to these moments is often a precious contribution to the culture and impossible to gain via other means.

Q: Are there particular performance initiatives you will be implementing that will be open to the public in the year ahead?
A: Yes! I have just arrived, so we are still developing the exact form of how to proceed. I also need to listen to the community – at the University, and in Christchurch – to ascertain what it might be that people want.

I can say initially I will perform some as a solo player, particularly of new music, particularly of composers living in Christchurch and New Zealand. It’s a way of saying ‘hello’ to the most essential of lifebloods in the moving-forward part of our (musical) culture. As is appropriate, I will collaborate with current UC students in their developing (chamber music) repertoires. The UC music department will continue presenting its lunchtime concerts, both at Ilam and in the city – I hope to energise that tradition as would help it; likewise the ensembles associated with the school – UC Christchurch Youth Orchestra, and the choir Consortia. And so on.

By October, we are planning to commence with a format of presenting music from and through the university that we expect to become a focal point of our mission as a performance programme. Expect it to be very collaborative and, over time, transformative of how its formed, but not of its quality – so we aim!

Markplaying2