Retiring, but contribution to music continuing

Professor Emeritus John Drummond (right), who is directing two operettas for Opera Otago _ his...
Professor Emeritus John Drummond (right), who is directing two operettas for Opera Otago _ his own Mr Polly at the Potwell Inn and Offenbach's Ticket Sixty Six - works in rehearsal with musical director Jonathan Drummond (left) and singer Matt Landreth. Photo by Brenda Harwood.
A life in music will continue for Professor John Drummond when he formally retires from the University of Otago Department of Music in mid-2014.

In July, Prof Drummond was granted the title of Professor Emeritus for his 37 years of distinguished service to the university as Blair Professor of Music, along with 20 years as department head, and seven years as a Dean in the Division of Humanities.

In that time, he was involved in establishing the university's Department of Languages and Cultures, in providing a firmer basis for the Theatre Studies Department, and in supporting the development of contemporary rock, music technology and world music programmes within the Department of Music.

''I feel honoured to have been given the title of Professor Emeritus. It will be good to continue to have a close association with the university after I retire,'' he said.

Watching the Department of Music grow into ''a big operation'' has been a great pleasure for Prof Drummond, who has a particular interest in cultural diversity in music education, alongside his life-long passion for opera and composition.

''It is wonderful to see the talented people who have come through the department over the years - a lot of international opera singers began their musical lives here,'' he said.

Alongside his academic work, Prof Drummond has had ''another life in music'', being involved in Music Education New Zealand Aotearoa (Menza) since the 1990s, including as president, and with the International Society for Music Education (ISME), of which he is a board member and former president.

''My work with ISME has taken me all over the world working on international projects in music education,'' Prof Drummond said.

His particular focus has been with the Cultural Diversity in Music Education (CDIME) network, which aims to help develop teaching programmes including world music.

''The network has had quite a lot of success with this goal around the world - it has helped people to look at music education in a different way.

''It is an exciting time in music education.''

Prof Drummond is a passionate advocate of people listening to as many different types of music as they can in their lives.

''Our planet is a treasure chest of music,'' he said.

Prof Drummond has also enjoyed being involved with opera in the Dunedin community, including as a member of the Really Authentic Gilbert and Sullivan Performance Trust, for whom he directed Utopia Limited and Trial by Jury. He has also worked closely with Opera Otago on several productions, including directing Mozart's The Marriage of Figaro in 2012, which involved a team of young singers from the university.

When he can, Prof Drummond also turns his hand to opera composition, and has two operas ''on the go'' at present.

He also continues to be active in research, and will head to Brisbane later this month for the launch of the results of a major international research project on ''Sustainable Futures for Musical Cultures''.

Prof Drummond has been a lead researcher on the sustainability of opera for the project for the past three years, consulting with active opera singers around the world.

In the midst of all this, Prof Drummond has been working with Opera Otago for the past few weeks on rehearsals for two operettas - Mr Polly at the Potwell Inn, for which he composed the music, and Offenbach's Ticket Sixty Six.

The project involves young singers Matt Landreth (baritone) Andrew Grenon (tenor), and Bianca Andrew (soprano), along with young music director Jonathan Drummond.

''It's nice to give these young, up-and-coming musicians the opportunity to perform in public,'' Prof Drummond said.

The operettas will be performed together in a programme entitled ''Crossroads - Musical Comedies of Chance'', on November 15 and 16 at Mosgiel's Coronation Hall, and on November 22 and 23 at the Mayfair Theatre.

Tickets are available through Ticket Direct, www.ticketdirect.co.nz

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