Meet the Wynberg Music Staff: Mr Richard Haigh

Friday 22 April 2022: The first in a series of ‘Meet our Music Staff’ features WBHS Head of Music, Mr Richard Haigh.

Pictured above is Mr Haigh seated next to Mr Larry Moser, Senior Deputy Headmaster, on the organ bench of the Groote Kerk in Cape Town. The photograph was taken after the Good Friday performance of Handel’s Messiah was sung by The Philharmonia Choir of Cape Town of which Richard is Director of Music. The Philharmonia Choir is comprised of some 150 adult singers and is in its 55th year of existence. Richard has been the director of the choir for almost 10 years and Handel’s Messiah is a yearly Easter tradition, having been performed each year of the choir’s existence except for the last 2 years due to the pandemic. If he is not conducting the choir himself, he is usually behind the organ console as part of the accompanying orchestra.

Richard’s career as a musician began when he was found to have the ability to play by ear as a 3-and-a-half-year-old. Music lessons started at 4 and so began a lifelong passion for music. He matriculated at Rondebosch Boys’ High School, did the 6th Form Post-Matric year at Bishops as the Claude Brown Organ Scholar, completed his undergraduate degree in music at UCT (where he was classmates with WBHS colleague Natalie Karg), and then took up a full scholarship to Southern Methodist University In Dallas, Texas. Here he completed a Masters Degree in music which he achieved cum laude and lived in Dallas for six years working in the role of Organist and Choirmaster initially at the Roman Catholic Cathedral and then later at 2 of the largest Episcopal (Anglican) Churches in North America.

Richard’s career has been based around teaching, choral, and church music. Prior to joining Wynberg in 2019, Richard taught previously at Westerford and Bishops. Since arriving at Wynberg he has introduced subject music to Grade 8 and 9 boys and has overseen rapid growth in the department, including the addition of two full-time music posts and the installation of an historic pipe organ into the Nussbaum Auditorium among other things. A highlight for him was when Wynberg brought home 4 Gold Medals from the Afrikaans Eisteddfod last year, for top Choir, Concert Band, Jazz Band, and Vocal Ensemble – proof of the Wynberg Supera Moras spirit that our boys displayed so keenly last year in re-establishing their music ensembles.

In addition to teaching and his work with The Philharmonia Choir, Richard is also Assistant Organist and Choirmaster of St. Michael and All Angels Anglican Church in Observatory. Here he accompanies an Anglican cathedral tradition of choral music and trains the choir when their Choirmaster is away. For the last 6 years, Richard has also been an external examiner for Stellenbosch University in the organ, choral, and orchestral conducting departments of the Stellenbosch Conservatoire.

He is looking forward to the start of rehearsals for the Wynberg production of The Little Shop of Horrors (August 2022) and is glad that we are allowed to be back on stage so that the show can go on!

A #WynbergMedia article, with grateful thanks to Mr Richard Haigh.

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