Our People.

Philip Norman

Music Director

Philip Norman


Composer, conductor, author, speaker, educator and publisher Philip Norman has been entertaining audiences since the early 1970s. His output of over 250 compositions ranges from orchestral, chamber music and opera (A Christmas Carol), through secular and sacred choral and vocal works, to musicals with playwright Roger Hall (including Love Off the Shelf and Footrot Flats, still New Zealand’s best selling musical), and ballets for the Royal New Ballet such as the highly successful Peter Pan (which toured New Zealand three times). His music has been performed in many countries, by organisations as diverse as Vienna Boys Choir, Kemerovo Philharmonic Orchestra (Siberia), Stephen Joseph Theatre, Scarborough UK directed by playwright Alan Ayckbourn, and West Australian Ballet, Perth.

Philip holds a PhD in musicology and is the award-winning author of Douglas Lilburn: His Life and Music, as well as compiler and publisher of John Ritchie at Ninety: a festschrift. He was the inaugural Lilburn research fellow at the Alexander Turnbull Library in 2013 and recipient of the Michael King Writer’s Fellowship 2017-2018 for the purpose of completing a history of composition in New Zealand. In 2015 he was awarded a CNZM for services to music and music theatre.

Listen to Philip's RNZ interview on 'Old guard vs avant-garde in The Pleasure Garden' (September 2020).

See also www.philipnormancomposer.com

Susan Densem

Former Music Director

Susan Densem

B.A., B.Mus., Dip Tchg, A.T.C.L.

Susan first studied conducting at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music with Dr John Nickson. She has worked with a number of primary and secondary schools choirs and orchestras for more than 20 years both in Christchurch and Brisbane. Susan was the Musical Director of the Christchurch South Primary Music Festival from 2004-2009 and continues to conduct the North West Music Festival massed choirs.

Susan teaches singing at Burnside High School and conducts their three auditioned choirs, Bel Canto, Senior Chorale and Aurora Voices. She has had national success with her secondary school choirs winning the platinum award at the New Zealand Choral Federation Big Sing Finale three times as well as receiving many gold awards.

Susan's professional singing career has spanned 30 years. She has performed as a soprano soloist for many choirs in New Zealand and overseas and as an opera singer here and in Australia. Susan studied voice at the Queensland Conservatorium of Music and has taught singing, piano, clarinet, saxophone and violin, both privately and at schools, in New Zealand and Australia.

As a chorister, Susan was a member of the Jubilate Singers, Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament Choir and the National Youth Choir of New Zealand and is a current member of the Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir.

Susan was Music Director of the Jubilate Singers from 2015-2018.

Grant Hutchinson

Former Music Director

Grant Hutchinson

When appointed as MD of the Jubilate Singers in 2006, the late Grant Hutchinson felt very honoured to follow in the footsteps of John Pattinson and Martin Setchell - the choir had such a well-deserved reputation for excellence. The challenge was to keep things at the high level that had already been established, but he said it was like taking over a well-oiled machine with an active and efficient executive committee that gave him plenty of support.

Choral highlights over the years included the packed-to-the-gunnels Monteverdi Christmas Vespers at St Luke's Church, the lllumina, Music of Light concert at which we premiered a commissioned work by Gareth Farr, the Monteverdi 1610 Vespers which we performed together with Baroque Voices, and Elijah, performed with Wellington's Nota Bene, in what was one of the first major concerts in the new Transitional Cathedral. And, of course, making our Southern Landscapes CD was a very special project.

On a personal level, he recalled vividly the first time Jubes met after the February 2011 earthquake and we sat in semi-circle to share stories of how we had been affected by this terrible event. This clearly demonstrated that being part of the choir was more than just about music. Grant was very grateful to the choir for giving him the opportunity to work with the 'Jubes' over the years and also to have the opportunity to work with orchestral players and soloists for the major works.

Grant was Music Director of the Jubilate Singers from 2006-2015.

John Pattinson

Former Music Director

John Pattinson

John's eighteen-year association with the Jubilate Singers began in 1988, at which time they comprised a smallish, select group perfectly suited to their repertoire of mainly (though not exclusively) early and Baroque music. Coming from an orchestral conducting background, John set his sights on building a slightly larger chamber choir, capable of holding its own when performing works with orchestral accompaniment. He also wanted to explore an expanded repertoire which embraced the 19th and 20th centuries.

Furthermore, he has long been fascinated by the possibilities of 8-part a cappella texture both for its harmonic richness and for its dramatic possibilities in works for double choir. Therefore, it is with particular satisfaction that he recalls our performances of the complete Bach Motets, Brahms Motets and Parry's Songs of
Farewell. In accompanied works, our co-conspirators have varied enormously, from the standard baroque and classical orchestras in such works as Messiah, St. Matthew Passion and Mozart's Requiem, to full orchestra (Vaughan Williams Hodie). We have performed with flamenco ensemble (Paco Pena: Misa Flamenca), multiple pianos & percussion (Stravinsky: Les Noces, Orff: Catulli Carmina, Orff: Carmina Burana), jazz trio (Hit me with a hot note & similar programmes}, to full show-band (backing choir for Michael Crawford at the Arena).

Over the years, the choir has risen impressively to the challenge of singing in foreign languages, be it Latin, French, German, Spanish, Italian or Russian. His greatest challenge was to get us singing English with an English accent. Success is a difficult thing to quantify. For John one of the most objective measures of success came when the Jubes won a gold award at the Sydney International Choir Festival in July, 1994, followed by an impromptu performance of Java Jive on the homeward flight, to the tumultuous applause of the passengers.

John was Music Director of the Jubilate Singers from 1988-2006.

Martin Setchell

Former Music Director

Martin Setchell

When Martin settled in Christchurch in the 1970's, the city's choral scene was dominated by the English oratorio tradition and two large choral societies: The Christchurch Harmonic Society under William Hawkey and the Christchurch Royal Musical Society under Robert Field Dodgson. Chamber choirs like the University Madrigal Singers, and the Harmonic Chorale had largely ceased to function. University Singers operated only in University term.

So, Martin founded Jubilate Singers to fill a gap, and broaden the choral repertoire being heard, especially a cappella Renaissance and early Baroque music and 20th century music. One challenge was changing the public mindset about small choirs. (He still vividly recalls the well-meaning lady who told him after one of the first concerts: "Don't get downhearted; I'm sure you'll soon get more people to join the choir, and one day you might be as big as the Royal"!) Another was sourcing repertoire and communication generally in the pre-internet era. Then, as now, making ends meet financially was problematic. Martin did it all for love for many years, as we all did.

Our home in those early years was the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, that magnificent Catholic Basilica in Barbados Street. Many of the highlights he recalls from my decade as director were concerts given in the Basilica, including a first historic performance of Monteverdi's 1610 Vespers, (with choirs, soloists and instrumentalists changing locations in the high galleries), Rutter's Gloria with brass and organ , Christmas programmes featuring challenging works like Britten's A Boy was Born, Schoenberg's Friede auf Erden, and first performances of Schulz's Matthew Passion and Christmas Story.

As Jubilate's founder, he is proud that the choir continues to flourish more than 40 years on.

Martin was Music Director of the Jubilate Singers from 1977-1988.

Emeritus Professor John Ritchie, 1921 - 2014

Past Patron

Emeritus Professor John Ritchie, 1921 - 2014

John Ritchie was born in Wellington, New Zealand, in 1921. Professor Ritchie graduated in music at the Otago University and trained as a teacher at Dunedin Teacher’s College. Ritchie served in the navy in World War II and subsequently undertook post-graduate study with Walter Piston at Harvard University during 1956-57.

In 1946 he was appointed to Canterbury University, becoming Professor and Head of Music in 1962. Ritchie served as acting and Deputy Vice-Chancellor from 1973-83. During 1967-68 he held a Visiting Professorship at Exeter University and served on the board of Trinity College of Music, London.

Professor Ritchie has conducted many choirs and, in 1959, formed the John Ritchie String Orchestra and later the Christchurch Civic Orchestra. He has guest-conducted the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and the New Zealand Ballet. In 1974 he was Music Director of the 10th Commonwealth Games and, in 1986, directed the music for the Papal Visit of John Paul II. Ritchie was Secretary General of the International Society for Music Education from 1976-84 and its President 1990-92. He was elected an Individual Member of the International Music Council in 1979.

As a composer Professor Ritchie is known for choral music, music for brass, concerto-type works, carols and church music. His work includes “Concertino for Clarinet and Strings”, “Concerto for Saxophone and Small Orchestra”, “Threnody” (brass band), “The Snow Goose” (flute and orchestra), and “Papanui Road Overture” (full orchestra). A recording of some of his choral works, Winter and Rough Weather, was made by the Jubilate Singers.

John Ritchie was awarded the CANZ Citation for service to New Zealand music in 1992. He has a family of three daughters and two sons. His wife, Anita, a nationally recognised soprano, died in 2001.

John Ritchie passed away on the morning of his 93rd birthday, the 29th of September 2014. He is survived by three daughters and two sons.

The Jubilate Singers acknowledge the dedicated support of Professor Ritchie for the choir over many years.


Jubilate Singers is an incorporated society, administered by an Executive. The choir seeks to:

  • perform choral music to its highest achievable standard;
  • challenge members to continually improve their musical standards;
  • provide audiences in Christchurch and further afield with proven and new choral repertoire.

The current Executive members are: 

  • Felicity Ward O'Brien (President)
  • Vivien Hicks (Secretary)
  • Brian Curtis (Treasurer)
  • Philip Norman (Music Director)
  • Denis Guyan (Assistant Music Director)
  • Kelvin Lynn
  • Steve French
  • Leonie Jackson