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Rosemary Russell

Arranger, Composer

Born: 1953


I grew up in a musical vicarage family singing mainly hymns and at eight years old was exposed to the wonderful choral music of the Auckland Cathedral under Sir Peter Godfrey. Through school and university I was always part of a choir or musical ensemble of some sort. Creating tapeloops and multimedia musical events with John Cousins and exploring the music of Debussy and Messiaen with David Sell at Canterbury University are particular memories. I learned the piano from Wallace Woodley and Rae de Lisle and have always enjoyed accompanying, whether for a soloist or a choir.

Working for twenty plus years as a Secondary school music teacher, taking choirs, writing musicals, assisting students with their compositions and studying a range of music through the NCEA requirements is all part of the rich matrix. I also taught for 10 years at Tawa primary school which was very arts focused and I wrote many songs for those students.

Being part of a community church has given many opportunities to write for congregation or choir for special occasions or when the spirit moves and also to be part of the huge wave of new band-led worship music. I regularly lead, play or sing in our music groups at Titahi Bay Community Church.

I was a foundation member of the Festival Singers of Wellington in 1976 and have been the Director for the last eight years. It is a great chance to explore a wide range of music from Handel’s Messiah to choral arrangements of folk songs from around the world to exposing the music of local composers such as Jonathan Berkahn and Carol Shortis.

Having resigned from Queen Margaret College after 9 wonderful years as a music teacher, I am currently engaged in many musical occupations. Singing, playing the piano, conducting, composing all seem to be interwoven within the Wellington network of musical friends. I sing with Nota Bene and Orpheus choir and am a member of the Voices Chamber choir pool of singers.

Going to the multicultural concerts and Kapa Haka festivals with my husband John, who is a secondary school principal, is always a wonderfully enriching experience. Daughter Miriam has just graduated from the NZSM as a jazz vocalist and our eldest daughter Liz has been exploring jazz also, on the flute. I do enjoy singing with my three grandchildren! By way of relaxation, I am currently picking up the violin again in a trio..this is a humbling but totally engrossing experience. Swimming and gardening are pleasurable occupations that keep the body moving.

For me, the voice is the way to access the soul. I have had so much pleasure from singing with other people. The whole is always greater than the sum of the parts. As a composer, you know that a piece is often created as a result of a significant experience as a human. Also much toil is required to bring it into the light. This creates an interest in and a respect for each composition you are engaged with, and a special joy in the performance of it.

For me, the voice is a way to access the soul and to experience the divine. Compositions are often the fruit of significant human experience, brought into the light with much toil. Respecting this, results in a rich performance.

Composed (18)

A Wellington Christmas or Christmas Eve Reflections

for three part treble choir with SATB choir and finger cymbals, 6m

Coastal Sunset

for SATB vocal ensemble or chamber choir, 2m 43s

God's Grandeur

for SATB choir, 2m


for SATB ensemble and piano, 4m 30s

It's How You Live that Matters

for SATB choir with piano, 3m 20s

Let us Go in Peace

for SATB choir with piano or guitar


for SATB, 3m 40s


for SATB choir, 2m 20s


for SSAA choir, 2m 30s

Noah's Prayer

for SATB choir, 3m

Pied Beauty

for SSAATB choir and piano, 3m 20s

Prayer of the Cat

for SATB choir, 2m 48s

Psalm 19

for unison voices and piano or guitar, 3m

Psalm 46

for SSAA choir with piano, 3m 30s

The Prayer of the Dove

for SATB choir, 2m 30s

The Shining Light: A Christmas Musical

a christmas musical, 20m

Tide Tables

for soprano and piano, 2m 30s

Where E'er You Go

arrangement by Glenys Chiaroni for SATB choir with flute and piano, 3m 30s

Arranged (1)

Where is the Room?

for SATB choir and piano, 2m

Recordings (1)

Godsongz for Kids

Nz recordings other genres