Music Team Biographies

Find out what makes each the people on the Music Team special.

Patrick Shepherd – Musical Director, Orchestra: Patrick Shepherd is a senior lecturer in Music Education at the University of Canterbury . Well-known as a composer, conductor, performer and adjudicator, Patrick is a graduate of Manchester , London and Canterbury universities and holds a licentiate and fellowship from Trinity College , London. As well as regular performances and broadcasts in New Zealand his works have been performed in Russia , USA , UK , South Korea and China . He has conducted the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Christchurch Youth Orchestra, Garden City Symphony Orchestra and currently conducts the Camerata Strings. He enjoys working with young people and is a passionate advocate for New Zealand music.

Kate Hays – Assistant Musical Director, Senior Choir: Kate is HoD Music at Shirley Boys’ High School. She has made a name for herself in national music circles for the quality of the singing that her school choirs at Palmeston North Boys’ High School and Rangi Ruru Girls’ School have achieved in competitions. She was a member the National Youth Choir for 10 years and also has experience on the stage and directing musicals.

Josh McGirr – Associate Conductor: Josh has been playing trumpet since he was 12 and singing in choirs since the beginning of his schooling life. He has been a member of the New Zealand Secondary Students Choir under the directorship of Andrew Withington and also a member of the National Youth Choir under the directorship of David Squire travelling internationally with both choirs. As well as being an Associate Conductor with the Festival, Josh is also the Senior Choir Special Vocal Tutor. He has also previously held the roles of conductor of the Chisnallwood Intermediate Choir and Co-Musical Director of the Christchurch Boys’ Choir. Outside of Josh’s musical life, he is employed full-time as an I.T. Technical Specialist.

Rachel Wilford – Associate Conductor: Rachel has had a background in singing opera and musical theatre but is passionate about teaching and training young voices. She taught at St Andrew’s College Preparatory School as a specialist music teacher for 19 years and at Westburn Primary School assisting their Specialist Music Programme and as their choir teacher for 13 years. Now she is choir director and music teacher at St Margaret’s College and Avonside Girls High.
Rachel has conducted the Northwest music festival as one of the massed choir conductors for many years and is trustee for the Opera Club based in Christchurch.

Chris Petch – Concert Band: A former graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, Chris is Head of Music and Director of the Specialist Music Programme (SMP) at Burnside High School where he also directs the school’s multi award-winning Big Band and Symphonic Wind Band and teaches Low Brass. Whilst living in England, Chris worked as a freelance trombonist with the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Opera North, Hallé Orchestra, and in session work for the BBC and Granada TV. Chris also worked as Senior Tutor in Brass for the Cheshire County Youth Orchestra and, prior to moving to New Zealand in 2008, held positions as Head of Music at two large secondary schools. Since arriving in New Zealand, Chris has presented professional development workshops for music educators and tutored the brass sections of the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Orchestra, the Christchurch Youth Orchestra and the Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra. He is a member of the organising committee for the Christchurch Big Band Festival and a Trustee of the New Zealand Jazz Foundation. Chris remains an active musician. He is a regular casual player with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, a founding member of Christchurch Symphonic Brass and a member of the Symposium Jazz Orchestra.

Sharyn Hay – Junior Choir: Sharyn is currently employed as a Minister at Majestic Church. Sharyn gained experience managing large numbers of students as the Principal of the Majestic Church’s successful CREATE School of Arts which ran for eleven years until its recent closure post earthquakes. CREATE provided tuition in drama, dance, song and art, for 6-18 year olds. She has a background in primary teaching, school/church choirs, private singing tuition and loves inspiring children to sing!

Sarah Kang – Accompanist: Sarah is accompanist of the Christchurch City Choir, the Chamber Choir of Canterbury University and Cobham Intermediate School Choir. She worked as an accompanist and lecturer in Korea. After leaving Korea, she continued her studies in Music at the University of Canterbury and gained her master degree under Maurice Till. She is held in high regard as an accompanist and collaborative musician by both singers and instrumentalists. As an active accompanist, Sarah has performed with many choirs and schools ever since she moved to New Zealand in 2003. Sarah was also a repetituer of Southern Opera for 4 years.

Hsing-Yin Lin – Accompanist: Hsing-Yin is a Christchurch based pianist and teacher. She is the accompanist for the Christchurch Youth Choir. She also works regularly with other choirs, as well as instrumentalists and singers for concerts and exams in Christchurch as an accompanist.


Matthew Harris – Assistant Conductor – Orchestra: Matthew is currently studying towards a Bachelor of Music and a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Canterbury. He has played Double Bass and Tuba in the Music Festival Orchestra since 2006 and has gone on to play for the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Symphony Orchestra, the National Secondary Schools’ Brass Band, National Youth Orchestra, National Youth Brass Band, Leopard Coachlines Canterbury Brass and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, as well as being a Godley Choral Scholar and singing as a Gentleman of the Christchurch Cathedral Choir. Matthew has been conducting since 2012 when he was appointed as Bandmaster and Assistant Director of Music of the New Brighton Silver Band. Matthew hopes to continue conducting in the future and to make music his career.