IHC Accessible Concert Mini-Series: Interview with Julian Raphael

Monday, 28 August 2017
 Interview with Julian Raphael

Julian Raphael is a “community musician” and CMNZ facilitator for the IHC accessible concert mini-series. We met up with Julian for a chat and a cuppa, here's what we found out!


What’s your musical background?

My music began formerly at age 8, when I joined the choir of St Paul’s cathedral Dunedin and began to study piano, clarinet and guitar. After moving to London at the age of 14 music took off in a big way and I ended up at Birmingham University and graduated with a B.Mus and then an M.Phil after researching the early operas of Puccini. I worked as a ballet pianist in London for a while before undertaking secondary teacher training at Goldsmiths. That’s also when I discovered African music.


What lead you to community-focused musical endeavours?

I had been working as a secondary school music teacher for 12 years, then luckily made the transition to being a university music lecturer. I had the opportunity to start a ‘natural voice’ community choir in Canterbury, where before there existed only a traditional choral society type of choir. I began to lead drumming groups and mix with a variety of musicians from different cultures. Within 3 months of moving back to NZ, I and others formed the Wellington Community Choir, which IS now 12 years old. I reinvented myself as a ‘Community Musician’. No-one knew what that meant, so I would say “It’s doing music work with people”. I set up Community Music Junction within my first year in Wellington.


You’ve travelled extensively. How has that influenced your music-making?

I’ve been fortunate to have visited two African countries. In South Africa, I experienced learning songs with a fantastic choir leader from Polokwane and then toured around the country in a choir singing to different communities. Many of those songs I have passed onto singing groups back here. I am a student of Shona mbira and recently visited Zimbabwe to learn from a number of master players. Teaching mbira and marimba is an important part of my work in Wellington.


Tell me a little bit about your 2016 SOUNZ Community Commission

I got to know the lovely young people from ACTIVE since they started attending one of our Sing for Your Life morning groups. Together we created a song-cycle about what it means to live in Wellington with an intellectual disability and then we performed it at the Citadel during this year’s NZ Music Month. Resound have produced a great video of the performance https://vimeo.com/226838230


What projects are you working on at present?

One project involves compiling a songbook of original compositions from NZ song leaders, to be produced in 2018 by the Song Leaders’ Network Aotearoa. I have an ambition to co-create a community opera for Wellington people, so I’m on the lookout for potential collaborators.


Find out more about the IHC Accessible Concerts Mini-Series here.