A talented team of professionals
Dr Andrew Withington
Artistic Director & Conductor
PhD, MMus(Hons), MusB(Hons), ATCL, GDipT
Andrew Withington’s choral conducting career when he was appointed Music Director of the Christchurch Boys’ Choir in 1997 at the age of 18. In 1998, he led the choir on a successful tour to Japan, and was awarded Life Membership in 2003.
In 2000, as Senior Scholar in Music at the University of Canterbury, he completed a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours in Conducting, Orchestration and Analysis, and was awarded the prestigious Vernon Griffith’s Prize for Outstanding Musical Leadership. After three years as a school teacher, Andrew completed a Master of Music with First Class Honours in Conducting at the University of Auckland. During his Master’s programme in 2005, he represented New Zealand in a masterclass at the World Choral Symposium in Japan.
In August 2008, Andrew was appointed Artistic Director of the prestigious New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir (NZSSC). The choir has performed concerts in Canada, Malaysia, Singapore and South Africa. At the 2010 International Choral Kathaumixw, the choir received ‘The People’s Choice Award’ and first place in the adult mixed choir competition. NZSSC returned to Kathaumixw in 2016 as the invited Guest Choir, and Andrew served as head of one of the juries.
He has had a long association with the Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival and was Music Director for the 2011 and 2012 seasons. In recognition of his significant contribution, he was awarded Life Membership in 2013. From 2014 to 2015, Andrew was Music Director of the Christchurch City Choir, a role that included conducting the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra and other instrumental ensembles.
In 2017, Andrew completed a Doctor of Philosophy in Music (Choral Pedagogy) at the University of Canterbury. The title of his thesis is Enhancing Choral Intonation in Unaccompanied Tonal Music: A Curriculum and Pedagogical Approach to Teach Choirs to Sing in Just Intonation. Firstly, he has created an approach to teach choirs to sing more reliably and consistently in tune. Secondly, coupled with his leadership style, communication skills, and abilities as a conductor and educator, he is able to empower the musicians for whom he works to give of their best and meet their goals. During his candidature, he was a Doctoral Scholar, lecturer in undergraduate and graduate conducting, and conductor of the chamber choir, Consortia. Prior to this, he trained student teachers at the New Zealand Graduate School of Education.
Andrew has adjudicated and run choral clinics both in New Zealand and internationally, and is an advisor for the New Zealand Choral Federation and the International Choral Kathaumixw.
Assistant Director & Accompanist
Brent Stewart studied at Auckland University, Victoria University of Wellington and the New Zealand School of Music. He holds an AMusTCL (Music Literacy), Post Graduate Diploma in Education, and a Bachelor of Music with First Class Honours in Classical Performance.
Brent has extensive experience performing and touring both nationally and internationally. He has performed and/or recorded as a concerto soloist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Orchestra Wellington (formally Vector Wellington Orchestra), Wellington Youth Orchestra, and the Auckland Philharmonia.
In 2012 he led a treble choir, Cantala from Wellington East Girls' College, on an international tour through Singapore, London, Paris and Vienna. In Vienna, Cantala came 1st equal in the Summa Cum Laude Youth International Music Festival. Another highlight of his international travels include performing in a season of The Phantom of the Opera in Japan as Principal Percussionist.
Brent regularly performs with the Royal New Zealand Ballet, the NBR National Opera and is the Assistant Conductor, Sub-Principal Percussionist and Associate Timpanist of Orchestra Wellington. Brent is also Musical Director of the Hutt Valley Orchestra, will conduct the Wellington Chamber Orchestra for their final season this year, and is the Head of Music at Wellington East Girls' College.
Assistant Director & Vocal Consultant
MMus (Hons), GradDipTchg (Secondary), BA
Rachel Alexander studied at the University of Auckland and holds a Bachelor of Arts, a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) and a Master of Music (Honours) in Classical Performance (Voice).
Rachel was a member of NZYC and sang with the New Zealand Opera Chorus from 2005-2014.
Rachel is currently singing with Voices New Zealand Chamber choir having been a member since 2010 and in 2011 attended the 9th World Symposium on Choral Music in Argentina.
As well as performing regularly, both as a soloist and in choirs around Auckland and New Zealand. Rachel teaches both itinerant voice and classroom Music at Diocesan School for Girls in Auckland. She is the director of their Year 7 & 8 Choir, Senior Choir, co-director and vocal consultant to the St Cecilia Singers and also directs two Handbell Choirs.
BA (Waikato University), Post Graduate Diploma in Arts Administration (London City University)
Anna studied languages and business at Waikato University and later, during years working and travelling in the UK, decided on a career in arts management. Following postgraduate studies, she moved to Alnwick in northern England to work in touring theatre production. On her return to New Zealand, Anna worked for Taki Rua Productions producing ground-breaking theatre from Maori playwrights including Witi Ihimaera, Toa Fraser and Briar Grace-Smith, and toured Maori language plays to schools and kohanga reo throughout New Zealand. Anna joined NZSSC in 2009.
Student Wellbeing and Course Logistics Manager
Dip Tchg, B.Ed, LTCL [ Singing]
Carole brings a range of skills to her role as NZSSC Student Wellbeing and Course Logistics Manager. She has worked at the University of Otago College of Education lecturing in Music Education and Professional Practice for 21 years after teaching in numerous primary schools. She has also been a Music Adviser in Otago and Southland and a member of the Ministry of Education Arts panel in writing the current NZ Arts Curriculum.
She is chairperson of the NZ Choral Federation Otago region and coordinator of the Otago BIG SING and in 2013 the National Finale. She is a choral singer and conductor, currently conducting the Dunedin Star Singers choir and Tahuna School Intermediate choir. She has been with the NZSSC since 2011.