During the first period at Linwood High School from 1962-65 the music was managed exclusively by Brian Barrett, a brilliant pianist, singer, conductor, timpanist—in short a very sensitive and capable all round musician. Although one had the feeling he would have been much more at home at the university, he never found a place there, and he never complained about having to teach class music—something which would have driven me mad. Occasionally I visited his classes with my clarinet and he also performed my setting of Psalm 8 with his University Madrigal Singers. During my two years in Europe 1966-67 he left Linwood for a job in Perth. I was never to see him again—he was there for only a short time before he died of cancer and his wife, Mary, and three children had to return to Christchurch without him.
In memoriam Brian Barrett (6 min) is an experimental piece, using fragments of the Gregorian Dies Irae. There is a special part for timpani, which instrument Brian also played in the Christchurch Civic Orchestra.
Here is the introductory paragraph from the score:
Dedicated to my friend and colleague, Brian Barrett, who died in Australia on January 20, 1971.
In his short life Brian was a music teacher in Christchurch and in Perth, conductor of the Skellerup-Woolston Band and of the University of Canterbury Madrigal Singers, percussionist for the National Band of New Zealand which toured Britain in 1953, conductor and timpanist for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, chorister and deputy organist at Christchurch Cathedral, composer and arranger for all the groups he worked with. The present piece was written therefore for the Woolston-Skellerup Band which he once led, and because of his activities as a percussionist it has important parts for those instruments, especially the timpani. The requiem nature of the work is underlined by the quotation of a fragment from the Gregorian Dies Irae.
Kit Powell Christchurch 1972