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Christchurch Town Hall organist Martin Setchell is an international concert performer who believes in promoting entertaining music to a wide audience. Recently called ‘New Zealand’s most widely travelled concert organist’ he has delighted audiences with his spirited playing, lively personality, and entertaining repertoire.

Born and educated in England where he was awarded his Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists, winning both the Limpus and Shinn prizes, he studied at various times with Pierre Cochereau, Marie-Claire Alain, Piet Kee, and Peter Hurford. After serving for over 40 years on the staff of the University of Canterbury School of Music, he resigned as Associate Professor of Music in 2014 to freelance as a performer (guest conductor and concert organist) writer, music editor, speaker and teacher.

Over the last 20 years he has given many concerts in New Zealand, Australia, America, Canada, Europe, the UK and the Far East. Highlights include the Spreckels organ in Balboa Park, San Diego, the Mormon Tabernacle Organ in Salt Lake City USA, the Hill organ in Sydney Town Hall, Australia, Oliwa Cathedral in Poland, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Oriental Arts Centre in Shanghai, the Esplanade Concert Hall Singapore, Musashino Civic Cultural Hall Tokyo, Birmingham Town Hall, St Paul's Cathedral, London, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, the historic Gabler organ in Weingarten Abbey, Regensburg Cathedral, and the Bergen International Festival in Norway.

Martin has served Christchurch as the city’s Town Hall organist since the Rieger organ was opened in 1997 when he was appointed organ curator by the City Council. He oversaw the organ’s preservation and restoration as part of the overall Town Hall rebuild and gave the re-opening concerts in March 2019 when the organ was officially re-opened by the Mayor.

He has recorded 6 CDs on the Town Hall organ: Let the Pealing Organ Blow!, Bonbons for Organ 1 and 2, Pink and White, Great Australasian Organs VII and Resounding Aftershocks (2019), which are regularly heard on Radio New Zealand Concert FM.

As a composer, Martin Setchell concentrates on writing tuneful and accessible organ and choral music. He is known for his volumes of transcriptions for organ: music by Fauré and Bizet and the Sousa marches published by Kevin Mayhew Music and his arrangements of Saint-Saens, Purcell, Bach and Verdi published by Oxford University Press. His humorous Wedding March extraordinaire is published by Butz MusikVerlag in Germany.

In 2008 he was honoured by the City of Christchurch, receiving a Civic Award for services to music in the community and the Town Hall organ in particular.

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