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.
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 has been Music Director of the Jubilate Singers from 2015-2018.

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, has been 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 passes 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: 

  • Janine Heeringa (Co-President)
  • Lois Chick (Co-President)
  • Vivien Hicks (Secretary)
  • Paul Hobbs (Treasurer)
  • Philip Norman (Music Director)
  • Denis Guyan (Assistant Music Director)
  • Steve French (Publicity)
  • Rachael Hawkey
  • Nina Koele
  • Thomas Caspari