Bob Bickerton has worked within the New Zealand professional performing arts industry for almost 50 years in a myriad of roles including as trustee, manager, technical producer and performer. Until recently, he was better known to the Adam Chamber Music Festival fraternity as manager, a position in which he served from 2011 to 2021.
Released from the shackles of administration, Bob is now focussed on creative exploits and in recent years has performed as a taonga pūoro practitioner with Nelson Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Composers’ Workshop and with New Zealand String Quartet in their performance of Gillian Whitehead’s ‘Hine Pū Te Hue’, which was broadcast as part of Aotearoa New Zealand Festival of the Arts in 2022.
A specialist in traditional Celtic music, Bob first discovered the world of taonga pūoro – traditional Māori instruments – when he moved to Nelson in 1987 as Director of the Nelson School of Music. It was then he encouraged Richard Nunns to deliver a workshop on these ‘singing treasures’. Bob went on to work with Richard and Aroha Yates-Smith on various projects including several film scores and with poet Glen Colquhoun and Richard Nunns in Glen’s poetry cycle ‘North South’.
Following encouragement from Hirini Melbourne, he included taonga pūoro in his school shows and in the last 25 years has presented the taonga to an estimated 300,000 students around New Zealand.
A collaboration with master carver Brian Flintoff, artist Robin Slow and musicians Ariana Tikao, Holly Tikao-Weir and Solomon Rahui, saw the creation of several exhibitions that featured soundscapes to support the exhibitions’ kaupapa. One of these, Ngā Hau Ngākau, has toured nationally, receiving critical acclaim. Bob has collaborated with Ariana Tikao on several occasions and their duo, Muriwai, will be touring a new concert programme with Chamber Music New Zealand in October 2024.
As a music creator, Bob has had songs performed and recorded internationally and has had his own recordings released on the international Naxos label. He has created soundscapes for numerous media projects, with particular focus on kaupapa Māori outcomes, and recently wrote music for the premiere play of the The Professional Theatre Company, Mr & Mrs MacBeth of Dodson Valley Road, which is touring nationally.