Recognised as amongst the foremost of singers of his generation, Simon O’Neill has performed many of the greatest tenor roles at the Metropolitan Opera, the Royal Opera House Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala, Deutsche Opera, Berlin, Vienna, Hamburg and Munich Staatsopern and both the Salzburg and Bayreuth Festivals with a number of illustrious conductors including Levine, Muti, Gergiev, Pappano, Barenboim, Rattle, Boulez, De Waart, Davis, Runnicles and Thielemann.
Simon’s love of music started at the age of eight with piano lessons with Mrs Perkins and joining the Ashburton Silver Band. His singing career began in his mid teens first with the New Zealand National Secondary Students Choir and then the New Zealand Youth Choir under the direction of Dr Karen Grylls. An alumnus of the University of Otago, Victoria University of Wellington, the Manhattan School of Music and the Juilliard Opera Center, Simon is a Fulbright Scholar and was awarded the 2005 Arts Laureate of New Zealand. Simon lives in London and Auckland with his wife, Carmel, and their three children Grace, Tom and Violet.
Dr Philip Norman
Composer, conductor, author, speaker, educator and publisher Philip Norman has been entertaining New Zealand audiences for over forty-five years. His output of over 250 compositions ranges from orchestral, chamber music and opera (A Christmas Carol ) through secular and sacred choral and vocal works, to musicals with playwright Roger Hall (including Love Off the Shelf and Footrot Flats – still New Zealand’s best selling musical) and ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet such as the highly successful Peter Pan.Philip holds a PhD in musicology and is the award-winning author of Douglas Lilburn: His Life and Music and the compiler and publisher of John Ritchie at Ninety: a festschrift. He was the inaugural Lilburn research fellow at the Alexander Turnbull Library in 2013 writing a history of composition in New Zealand. He was invested as a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit (CNZM) for services to music and music theatre in 2015.
A native of Princeton, Illinois, USA, John Linker holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Northern Illinois University in 1997 where he studied organ with Robert Reeves and Richard Hoskins, and a Master of Music degree from the Chicago Musical College (Roosevelt University) in 2003, an organ and harpsichord student of David Schrader. He is currently a candidate for the Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the University of Cincinnati (College-Conservatory of Music) where he studied organ with Roberta Gary and conducting with Stephen Coker and Earl Rivers.
Prior to coming to New Zealand, John was Organist & Choirmaster of the Church of the Good Shepherd (Episcopal) in Lexington, Kentucky (USA), where the choir programme expanded and strengthened during his 14 year leadership, and made numerous tours throughout the US, UK, and Europe.
In addition to teaching, John is passionate about chamber music and collaborative music making.
He holds memberships in the Association of Anglican Musicians, the American Guild of Organists (former Dean of the Lexington Chapter), the Organ Historical Society, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia music fraternity. John enjoys the lighter side of life, and during days off particularly embraces the ‘outdoor Kiwi lifestyle’ in visiting Christchurch parks with his wife Molly and their daughter Lila.