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Introducing The Big Sing 2019 regional adjudicators

We’re pleased to announce our adjudicators for The Big Sing 2019 regional festivals:

Andrew Withington: Auckland, Waikato-Bay of Plenty

David Burchell: Wellington, Taranaki, Nelson-Marlborough

Jono Palmer: East Coast, Otago, Southland

Robert Wiremu: Manawatu-Whanganui, Canterbury-West Coast

Read on below to find out more about each one…






Andrew Withington
Andrew has a PhD in Music (Choral Pedagogy). In 2000, as Senior Scholar in Music at the University of Canterbury, he completed a Bachelor of Music (First Class Honours) in Conducting, Orchestration and Analysis, and was awarded the prestigious Vernon Griffiths Prize for Outstanding Musical Leadership. After three years as a school teacher, Andrew completed a Master of Music (First Class Honours) in Choral Conducting with Associate Professor Dr Karen Grylls at the University of Auckland. During his Masters’ programme, he represented New Zealand in a masterclass at the World Symposium on Choral Music 2005 in Kyoto, Japan. Andrew is a former Director of the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir (2008-18), University of Canterbury Chamber Choir Consortia (2013-16), Christchurch City Choir (2014-16), Christchurch Schools’ Music Festival (2011-12) and Christchurch Boys’ Choir (1997-2004). He has adjudicated and run choral clinics in New Zealand and internationally and is an Advisor for NZCF. Andrew’s PhD research poster was recently selected for presentation at the American Choral Directors’ Association 2019 Conference in Kansas City.

David Burchell
David Burchell is based in Dunedin and works principally as a choral conductor and organist. He is Musical Director of City Choir Dunedin, Dunedin City Organist, Organist and Choir Director at St Joseph’s Cathedral, organ tutor at the University of Otago and is also Musical Director of chamber opera company ‘The Little Box of Operas’.  He also composes and arranges choral music.

David studied at Oxford University and was Organ Scholar and later Assistant Organist at New College, working for six years with the renowned chapel choir.  Since moving to New Zealand in 1999 he has made a considerable impression on the musical life of Dunedin, as choir director, organist, piano accompanist and orchestral conductor with the Dunedin Youth Orchestra, Southern Sinfonia (now Dunedin Symphony Orchestra) and St Kilda Brass.  He has appeared several times as organ and harpsichord soloist with the Southern Sinfonia and performs as an organ soloist and accompanist throughout New Zealand.

Over the years, David has directed and accompanied a number of school choirs at the Big Sing and is looking forward to a change of viewpoint at this year’s festivals! 

Jono Palmer
Jono Palmer is a former secondary school teacher with a Masters in Music and is currently a doctoral student in Choral Conducting at Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. His choirs have won national and international acclaim, including two Gold Medals at the 2015 Grand Prix of Nations in Magdeburg, Germany. As a conductor, Jono has been selected for masterclasses at the World Symposium on Choral Music and the US National Collegiate Choral Organization’s annual conference. In October 2018, he was one of six finalists in the Grand Final of the inaugural London International Choral Conducting Competition. His experience with secondary school choirs includes taking choirs to The Big Sing National Finale.

As a singer, Jono has been a member of all three of New Zealand’s national choirs: the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir, the New Zealand Youth Choir and Voices New Zealand Chamber Choir. He has very happy memories of taking part in Finales of The Big Sing himself as a founding member of The Fundamentals!

Robert Wiremu
Robert Wiremu has taught at the University of Auckland since 1998. Although he sang as a member of all three CANZ choirs, Robert has performed as a solo singer, accompanist and conductor, and directed (or assisted directing) the NZ Secondary Students’ Choir, the NZ Singing School (Te Toi Waiata Aotearoa), and Opera in the Pa. The NZ Youth Choir’s performance his transciption of “Waerenga a Hika” (by Tuirina Wehi) was viewed more than 106K times with 1K+ shares in the weeks following the Christchurch tragedy.

Robert’s teachings on vowel tuning, the Wiremu Vowel Clock, is used by teachers and conductors in NZ, Australia, and Canada and has been presented in conferences in NZ and Canada.

Robert has consulted for international ensembles Chanticleer and The Kings Singers and, locally, the University of Auckland Chamber Choir and Accord. He is the artistic advisor for Choirs Aotearoa New Zealand, and recently tutored at the Inaugural CANZ Choral Academy. Robert is an experienced adjudicator having judged ‘The Big Sing’, the NZ Aria (Rotorua), and the rounds of the IFAC Australian Singing Competition.

Robert was elected to the board of the New Zealand Choral Federation in 2018.