Simon O'Neill ONZM
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.
O'Neill is the patron of the New Zealand Association of Teachers of Singing (Newzats), the IFAC Handa New Zealand Singing School, New Zealand Opera Circle 100, the New Zealand Brass Foundation, the Auckland Boys' Choir, the Ashburton MSA Choir, the Christchurch City Choir and the UK Singingworks. He appears on the 1998 New Zealand one-dollar performing arts postage stamp.
In the 2017 Queen's Birthday Honours, O'Neill was appointed an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to opera
Dr John Linker
A native of Princeton, Illinois, USA, John holds music degrees from Northern Illinois University (Bachelor of Music), Chicago Musical College at Roosevelt University (Master of Music), and University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (Doctor of Musical Arts). John holds memberships and has held leadership positions in the Royal School of Church Music Canterbury Branch, the New Zealand Organ Association, the American Guild of Organists, the Association of Anglican Musicians, American Choral Directors Association, and Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia Music Fraternity.
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.