Highly respected classical music director dies

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch
Nov 28, 2023 |

A revered musical director, celebrated for leading some of New Zealand’s most cherished orchestras and choirs, has passed away.

The Transitional Cathedral of Christchurch made the announcement of the death of Brian Law on Tuesday night.

Brian led the Choir from 2003, when he was asked to ‘help out’ over Christmas.

“He forgot to stop helping and saw the Cathedral survive earthquakes and only retired after we had moved into the Transitional Cathedral in 2014.”

He remained a strong supporter of the Cathedral up to his death, critiquing services either in person or by watching live-streams.

A spokesperson for the cathedral said at least two full generations of Cathedral Choristers and a healthy number of back row of the Choir will remember him for his musical brilliance, his humour and, on occasions, “the look” that could wither anyone at 100 paces.

“He often commented that the job at the Cathedral was like coming full circle as he was a choral director in Canada in the 1960s.”

Born and educated in London, Brian emigrated to Canada at the age of 22 where he was music director of the Ottawa Symphony Orchestra, the Ottawa Choral Society, and founding director of the baroque ensemble Thirteen Strings.

For 14 years he was organist and Choirmaster at Ottawa’s St. Matthew’s Anglican Church, where he brought the men’s and boys’ choir to a standard of excellence comparable to that of British collegiate and cathedral choirs.

At his final concert in Ottawa, Brian was awarded the Freedom of the City.

The Brian Law Opera Scholarship was established to honour his contribution to opera in the National Capital Region.

Brian conducted all the major Canadian orchestras, and worked widely in the fields of opera and ballet. Internationally he conducted orchestras in the United States, Italy, Spain, Egypt and the BBC Singers in Britain. International festivals included Abruzzi, Italy, Barcelona, Spain and Opera at the Pyramids in Egypt.

Brian moved to Christchurch in 1990 and the City’s musical landscape expanded, heightened and developed enormously through his work with the City Choir, Southern Opera, and as a frequent guest conductor of the Christchurch Symphony and founding director of Cantores.

He conducted highly acclaimed seasons for Canterbury Opera, including Don Giovanni, The Magic Flute, Lucia di Lammermoor, Carmen,Tosca, and The Merry Widow.

Nationally, he conducted concerts with NZSO, the National Ballet, NZ Opera and all the regional orchestras.

For 10 years he conducted the annual summer ‘Opera in the Park’ and ‘Starlight’ concerts in the Auckland Domain.

Brian died peacefully at home on Monday.

A memorial service will be held in early in 2024.

Chris Lynch
Chris Lynch

Chris Lynch is a journalist, videographer and content producer, broadcasting from his independent news and production company in Christchurch, New Zealand. If you have a news tip or are interested in video content, email [email protected]

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