Composer recalls beginnings

Composer Christopher Norton accompanies Samantha Steel (14) at a music workshop at Otago Boys...
Composer Christopher Norton accompanies Samantha Steel (14) at a music workshop at Otago Boys High School yesterday. Photo by Linda Robertson.
It all started in Dunedin with Saturday morning classes in 1968 for world-renowned composer Christopher Norton.

The London-based composer returned to Dunedin yesterday to mark the 40th anniversary of Saturday morning music classes in Dunedin, which is being celebrated this weekend.

Norton also held workshops for young musicians at his University of Otago and Otago Boys High School alma maters yesterday.

"When I was a student at Otago Boys, I played in the first year of the Saturday music classes youth orchestra," he recalled yesterday.

"I think children find music a good way of expressing themselves emotionally. It's great for them to do something that their parents and fellow students can appreciate."

Norton (55) has composed a five-minute tribute piece, Octagon Overture. which will have its world premiere in the Dunedin Town Hall tomorrow.

"It's an extroverted, bright and breezy piece. It will be a good piece for Dunedin, I hope."

Norton started composing at the age of 14 and within two years had his first orchestral work performed by the Dunedin Civic Orchestra.

He later completed an honours degree in music at the University of Otago, before winning a scholarship to London, where he is established as a composer, producer, arranger and educationalist.

He now lectures around the world and is recognised for his colourful integration of traditional teaching methods and modern technology.

His Microjazz series for children has sold more than a million copies internationally and he has also produced a line of gospel albums, which have sold more than a million units.

The highlight of the weekend will be the annual demonstration concert in the Dunedin Town Hall at 3pm tomorrow, featuring more than 600 musicians and compered by Dunedin Mayor Peter Chin.

 

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