Our People.

Susan Densem

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 is excited to be the new Music Director of the Jubilate Singers and is looking forward to a fruitful collaboration with the choir.

Philip Norman


Philip Norman

The Jubilate Singers are very pleased to announce that Philip Norman has been appointed Patron of the choir. Philip succeeds our inaugural Patron, Professor John Ritchie, who died in September 2014. Philip was born in Christchurch in 1953 and educated at Rathkeale College Masterton 1967-71 and University of Canterbury where he graduated with a BA (Music and English) 1975, MAHons (Musicology) 1977, PhD (Musicology) 1984. He was a student of John Ritchie.

Since 1978 he has worked freelance as a professional composer and writer with additional work including musical direction, conducting and broadcasting. He was principal music reviewer for the Christchurch Press for much of the 1980s, co-founder and director of Nota Bene Music Publishing Co from 1979 and was active through the 1980s as a committee member, secretary and president of Composers’ Association of New Zealand. From 1991-95 he was music director of the Christchurch School of Instrumental Music and in 1992 was composer in residence with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the only composer to have held a residency with that orchestra.

He has composed and arranged well over 200 pieces in a wide variety of genres. He compiled three editions of the ‘Bibliography of New Zealand Compositions’ which in 1992 formed the beginnings of the SOUNZ computer database of New Zealand composers and compositions. He has had works commissioned or performed by most of the leading music, theatre and ballet companies in New Zealand.

His recent biography of New Zealand composer Douglas Lilburn won the biography category in the 2007 Montana Book Awards. Philip was the 2007 Ursula Bethell Creative Writer in Residence at the University of Canterbury English Department and the recipient of a 2008 CLL Writer’s Award, assisting him to continue work on a general history of New Zealand composition.

Philip has been a supporter of the Jubilate Singers over recent years and the choir has performed and recorded his song “Shipwreck”.

The Jubilate Singers look forward to Philip's guidance and advice and artistic collaborations.

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)
  • Susan Densem (Music Director)
  • Denis Guyan (Assistant Music Director)
  • Steve French (Publicity)
  • Rachael Hawkey
  • Nina Koele
  • Thomas Caspari