Choir director retiring after 19 years

Long-serving Royal Dunedin Male Choir musical director Richard Madden is retiring from the role after 19 years. Photo: Brenda Harwood
Long-serving Royal Dunedin Male Choir musical director Richard Madden is retiring from the role after 19 years. Photo: Brenda Harwood
Musical director Richard Madden will miss the camaraderie and sheer love of singing of the Royal Dunedin Male Choir when he steps down after Monday’s concert.

Madden, who has been the all­-male choir’s musical director for the past 19 years, is retiring from the choir, and from his position as head of music at Columba College, at the end of this year.

Madden joined the Royal Dunedin Male Choir as a tenor in 1998, and was elected deputy conductor in 2000.

After the sudden death of then­-conductor Les Bonar, he accepted the post of musical director in 2001.

Over his 19 years in the role, Madden has encouraged the choir to attempt a broader variety of music and more challenging pieces, including pop hits such as Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody and We Will Rock You.

That imaginative approach will be to the fore in the Royal Dunedin Male Choir’s final concert for the year, on Monday (December 2), from 7.30pm at the Dunedin Town Hall.

The choir will sing a selection of songs, including Speed Your Journey, I Dreamed a Dream,folk song Sweet Lass of Richmond Hill, Last of the Summer Wine, An American Trilogy and How Sweet the Sound.

Special guest for the concert will be internationally known New Zealand bass Martin Snell, an old friend of Madden’s, who will sing selected items.

Other guest artists for the evening will be The Star Singers, the Kaikorai Metropolitan Brass Band, Choir of St Paul’s Cathedral, pianist Sandra Crawshaw and David Burchell on organ.

‘‘I’m thrilled to have such an impressive line-up of guest artists. I think this is going to be a very special final concert for me,’’ Madden said.

‘‘They [the choir] are a lovely group of men, who love their singing and get enormous enjoyment from it.

‘‘I will miss the camaraderie of working with them, but it’s time for a change.’’

Music is in Madden’s blood. He taught music at St Hilda’s Collegiate School for 26 years, before taking up the role at Columba.

He has also been a long-standing member of the St Paul’s Cathedral Choir and was choir director at Knox College as well.

Madden and his wife, Robyn, are planning to retire to their house in Clyde.

The couple’s two children live in London, and retirement will give them the opportunity to spend more time together.

And even though he is departing from Dunedin’s music scene, Madden is not giving up music — he has already agreed to conduct a Central Otago mixed choir.

He also hopes retirement will give him more time to focus on writing his own music. 

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