Wananga landing Wananga landing

Secret Sinfonia musicians come out to play

07 May 2021

Working on minimal rehearsals but reaching the highest levels of performance, Secret Sinfonia is a University of Canterbury (UC) student-led orchestra bridging the gap between youth orchestras and professional musicians.


UC music students Daniel Cooper and Gabriel Baird lead the diverse musicians of the Secret Sinfonia.

The group of 35, who will perform this Monday evening 10 May at Knox Church, includes university music students, other university students and high school students who play to a high standard, and professional musicians from UC’s highly regarded School of Music and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.

“It’s a chance to get together to explore new music with our mentors and to give something back to the community,” Doctor of Musical Arts candidate at UC and Secret Sinfonia co-founder (with bassoonist Gabriel Baird), Daniel Cooper says.

The non-profit orchestra’s upcoming concert programme showcases works that are unusual but accessible for both the audience and the performers. 

“We’ll perform the New Zealand premiere of Kurt Atterburg’s fourth Symphony. Atterberg is Swedish composer whose music is programmatic and very approachable for all listeners. We will also perform Suite Algérienne by French composer Saint-Sëans. The suite paints the composers impressions of Algeria during his time there - the sounds and sights, especially the natural environment he encountered.”

Cooper’s research interest is British symphonic music at the turn of the 20th century, with a special focus on the works of Sir Arnold Bax. Having graduated last year with a first class honours degree in conducting from the Elder Conservatorium of Music (University of Adelaide), Daniel is just starting on his Doctorate of Musical Arts, and is confident it will enable him to achieve his career goals.

“It’s a highly regarded qualification internationally, which will give me the tools to work critically as a conductor and researcher of all genres of western music, anywhere in the world.”

Cooper has studied at music schools and in masterclasses overseas and says UC offers unique and invaluable opportunities. “The programme is personalised to develop your interests and passions, and the staff are internationally recognised performers, composers and pedagogues. Every minute I spend with (violinist and composer) Professor Mark Menzies, I learn so much, and with Reuben de Lautour (composer) and Justin DeHart (percussionist) they make a powerhouse team that you can’t help but be inspired by and swept along with! Amazing mentors, and a cutting edge environment in which to learn and grow.”

Secret Sinfonia performs at Knox Church (28 Bealey Avenue) Monday 10 May at 7:30 pm. Entry is by koha at the door. Proceeds go towards the New Zealand Youth Mental Health Foundation.


UC Communications

  • All media enquiries are directed to the UC Communications team.
  • Email for media enquiries (business hours, Monday - Friday)
  • Call 03 369 3631 for media enquiries (business hours, Monday - Friday)
  • Call 027 503 0168 for urgent media enquiries (after-hours, Monday - Sunday)

Tweet UC @UCNZ and follow UC on Facebook

More information
Visit our media enquiries page to contact UC Media.
What to read next
Privacy Preferences

By clicking "Accept All Cookies", you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts.