Since the opening of the National War Memorial Carillon in 1932 there have only been four official carillonists:
- Gladys Watkins, 1932-36 (read a biography of Watkins on Te Ara)
- John Randal, 1937-50, 1954-83 (read a biography of Randal below)
- Selwyn Baker, 1950-54
- Timothy Hurd, 1984 onwards (read a profile of Hurd below).
Timothy Hurd is the current national carillonist.
Hurd received his Master of Music degree from Yale University in 1977, studying composition with Krzysztof Penderecki and Jacob Druckman, and an Artist's Diploma in performance from the Netherlands Carillon School (1980) under Peter Bakker. As a Fellow of the Belgian-American Educational Foundation, Hurd studied 18th century musicology at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven and Royal Flemish Carillon School, Mechelen, Belgium. In 1981 he was awarded the Prix d'Excellence for carillon by the Dutch government. His compositions in various genres have been regularly commissioned and performed throughout the Europe, North America and Australasia.
Hurd was appointed New Zealand’s national carillonist in 1984. He was awarded the Queen's Service Medal for services to music in 1994. In 2001 he became first musical director of the National Carillon in Canberra, Australia, and served as vice-president of the Australian Carillon Society from 2007 to 2012.
Hurd has completed professional organ studies with Leonard Raver (USA), Michael Radulescu (Austria) and Leo van Doeselaar (Holland), with a focus on pre-Bach repertoire. He also researches and builds historical woodwind and keyboard instruments, and sings with the Tudor Consort and the Choir of Wellington Cathedral. He continues to work as a consulting acoustician in Europe.
John Hylton Randal was born in 1912 in Wellington. He was educated at Lyall Bay Primary School, Wellington College and Victoria University of Wellington, and was a Licentiate of the Royal Schools of Music in Organ Playing. He had a distinguished career in the public service but music was his passion. He served as organist and choir master at St James’s Presbyterian Church (1934–44), St Peter’s Anglican Church (1944–48), and St Thomas's Anglican Church (1950–59). He gave frequent organ recitals in various Wellington churches and in Wellington Town Hall.
Randal studied the carillon under Gladys Watkins and became acting carillonist in 1943 until 1949. He was concerned with extending the repertoire, which was light on music representing the local culture of the time. He arranged traditional Māori music and contemporary popular songs for the carillon.
Each bell in the carillon had two clappers. The western clappers were connected directly to the hand clavier (keyboard). The eastern clappers were driven by electro-pneumatic activators, which, in turn, could be driven from either a piano-like keyboard, or by a wide loop of punched paper similar to that used in a player piano. Recitals of the time commonly used all three methods of playing music. John spent many an evening and weekend repairing the existing paper rolls and creating new ones. He carefully transcribed sheet music to new rolls by punching holes in the rolls on the good dining room table, which was appropriately protected by fibreboard otherwise used as an air-raid blackout blind.
He became the carillonist in 1953 and continued extending the repertoire, this time by arranging (for example, ‘Soldiers of the Queen’) and writing music (such as ‘In Memoriam’ – a piece that sounded all of the 49 bells the carillon had at that time). He also gave lessons to aspiring pupils.
Randal played in carillon recitals in Australia, Canada, USA, England, Ireland, Holland, Belgium, France and Germany, and he represented New Zealand at International Carillon Congresses at Douai, France, in 1974; Amersfoort, Holland, in 1978; and Logumkloster, Denmark, in 1982. He was a member of the Guild of Carilloneurs in North America.
Randal served as carillonist until his death in 1983.
The notes on John Randal were provided by his daughter, Ann Randal.
Updated on 21st October 2015