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Red Contributor

Martin Setchell

Arranger, Composer

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Born: 1949 Website  External link


Martin Setchell is an international concert organist who believes in promoting entertaining music to a wide audience. From China to Canada, Scotland to Australia, England to Singapore, and New Zealand to Germany, he has delighted audiences the world over with his spirited playing, lively personality and entertaining repertoire.

Some organists play mainly for other organists; Martin programmes and plays for a wider audience of music lovers who want more than just another organ recital. His engaging organ concerts appeal to all ages and are often spiced with characteristic touches of English humour. Who says that organ music can't be fun? Far from ignoring his audience from the isolation of the loft, he takes them with him to the console.

Born in the North of England town of Blackpool, Martin holds Honours degrees in both French and Music from the University of Exeter, and was awarded both the Limpus and Shinn prizes when he received his Fellowship of the Royal College of Organists in London. Subsequently he undertook advanced studies in Classical organ technique with Pierre Cochereau (then titular organist of Notre Dame in Paris), Marie-Claire Alain, Piet Kee, and Peter Hurford.

He came to New Zealand in 1974 on his appointment to the University of Canterbury School of Music where he taught for 40 years and became Associate Professor of Music. In 2014 he resigned his University position in order to devote himself full time to his work as a professional freelance musician, performing, writing, speaking, editing and teaching. Since 1997, when he was appointed curator of the Rieger pipe organ in the Christchurch Town Hall, he has devoted himself to promoting the organ as a concert instrument internationally.

His solo concert tours outside New Zealand regularly take him to Australia, America, Europe and the Far East. This year (2018) his concert tours include Australia, Germany, France, the UK and Switzerland.

Some concert highlights include the Spreckels organ in Balboa Park, San Diego, the Mormon Tabernacle Organ in Salt Lake City USA, the famous Hill organ in Sydney Town Hall, Australia, Oliwa Cathedral in Poland as part of the Gdansk International Organ Festival, the Hong Kong Cultural Centre, the Oriental Arts Centre in Shanghai, China, the Esplanade Concert Hall in Singapore, Musashino Civic Cultural Hall in Tokyo, Japan, Birmingham Town Hall, St Paul's Cathedral, London, St Giles Cathedral, Edinburgh, Scotland, the historic Gabler organ in Weingarten Abbey, and Regensburg Cathedral, Germany.

His CDs include A Taste of Shropshire, (Quantum) recorded at Ludlow Parish church in England, the highly successful Bonbons for Organ series and Pink and White, an anthology of New Zealand organ music (Atoll) and Great Australasian Organs VII featuring the Rieger organ of Christchurch Town Hall (Priory 1031, UK). His most recent recording is Cardboard Cathedral Organ Capers recorded on the Rodgers Infinity organ of the Transitional Anglican Cathedral, Christchurch.

As a composer, Martin Setchell concentrates on writing tuneful and accessible organ and choral music. His humorous Wedding March Extraordinaire is recently published by Butz MusikVerlag in Bonn. He is also known for his volumes of transcriptions for organ. Music by Fauré and Bizet and the Sousa marches are published by Kevin Mayhew Music and his arrangements of Saint-Saens, Purcell and Bach are published by OUP in their Oxford Organ Series.

Martin's other activities include conducting (especially choral works and chamber operas), writing and public speaking. He lives in Christchurch with his wife Jenny, and two Burmese cats.

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.

"Playing of the highest rank... all that one could desire" - UK Organists' Review

Composed (15)

'Jubilate' Responses

for SSAATTBB choir, 2m

A Trumpet Gigue

for organ, 2m

Adam lay y bounden

for SATB choir, 1m

Chorale Prelude on 'Innsbruck'

for solo organ, 2m

Deep Peace

for SATB choir and organ, 2m 30s


for congregation, with choral and instrumental parts

Four Hymn Arrangements

for SATB choir, two trumpets, two trombones and organ

I was Glad

for SATB choir, 2m

Pokarekare ana Suite

for organ, 7m

St. Barnabas Service

for SATB choir and organ with optional congregation part, 6m 15s

The Shepherds' Hymn

for SATB choir and organ

The Summer Child

for SSATB choir and organ

Three "Amen" Settings

for SATB choir, 1m

Three Piece Suite

for organ

Arranged (8)

Adam lay y bounden

for SATB choir, 1m


for congregation, with choral and instrumental parts

God Defend New Zealand

for organ, 1m

Gymnopedie no.1

for organ, 3m

March, The Liberty Bell

for organ, 4m

Sabre Dance

for organ, 3m

Speaking up

for unison choir and piano