Past Conductors

Christopher van Tuinen 2011- 2018

Christopher graduated with a B.Mus from the Victorian College of the Arts in 2001. In 2005 he completed a Masters in Conducting at the VCA. Experienced in both vocal and instrumental music he was awarded the John Williams Conducting Scholarship for 2004-5. He also holds a B.A. from the University of Queensland, an LLB from Q.U.T. and an A.Mus.A from the AMEB. In 2005 year he was nominated by the Musical Theatre Guild for Best Music Direction. In 2006 he received a Green Room Award nomination in the ‘Best Conductor’ category.

During 2008 and 2009 he was a member of the Young Artists program as a Conductor with Opera Australia. In 2007 Chris was appointed as the inaugural Conducting Fellowship at the Australian Ballet. His credits include Nutcracker, BodyTorque Generations and Les Presages in Sydney as well as performances of After the Rain and Les Presages in Melbourne. He has worked with the WASO, Orchestra Victoria, AOBO and the QSO. He is currently WA State Manager for Musica Viva, Chorus Director for WASO, Conductor of UWACS, Musical Director of Fremantle Chamber Orchestra and Artistic Director of Lost & Found Opera.

His most recent credits include a 14 city tour of China conducting Turandot for AIOC, Peter and the Wolf and the Britten Young Person’s Guide to the Orchestra with WASO, The Rite of Spring for UWA, The Bells, the Verdi and Mozart Requiems for UWACS and UWA, Verdi’s Requiem, Mahler’s Symphony No 1and Scheherazade  for WAYO,  Britten’s The Rape of Lucretia for Staatsoper Hamburg Stabile, Madame Butterfly and Barber of Seville for OzOpera, Abduction from the Seraglio, Guistino, Don Pasquale, Sweeney Todd and The Rape of Lucretia for Lyric Opera and Gianni Schicchi / The Telephone for Powerhouse Opera Queensland. In 2005 he performed his re-orchestration of Bartok's Blubear's Castle with the Australian Classical Players. As a pianist and conductor he recently recorded Poulene's La Voix Humaine and The Emperor of Atlantis for ABC Classic Fm

Mr Jangoo Chapkana, 2010

The West Australian’s music critic Neville Cohn has praised him as “a musical Midas, turning everything he touched into musical gold.” Widely regarded as one of Australia’s most polished all-round performers, he has played to critical acclaim as a recitalist on harpsichord, organ and piano and has established a solid profile as a composer, choral specialist and jazz artist. 

An Honours graduate from the University of WA, he has travelled throughout the state as an examiner with the AMEB and is a first-choice adjudicator for many eisteddfods. His performing engagements have taken him to countless cathedrals and universities in Australia, Argentina, England (including Westminster Abbey), Ireland, Scotland, Egypt, Hong Kong, New Zealand, South Africa, the USA and France.


Mr Burhan Güner, 2007 – 2009

His first appearance with the choir was at 24 hours notice. Having prepared the choir for Bernsteins’ “Chichester Psalms” and a number of negro spirituals, John Beaverstock broke his collarbone and Burhan stepped in. During his tenure the choir again performed one of the Mount Everest’s of choral singing – Bach’s “Mass in B minor”.

Mr John Beaverstock, 2000 – 2006

At Melbourne University he studied Modern history but also developed a fine reputation as an organist. A series of church appointments preceded a move to Perth as Master of the Chapel Music at Guildford Grammar. He was Musical Director of P.U.C.S. before taking the post with UWACS. He achieved a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting in 1999.

Ms Prue Ashurst, 1996 – 1999

A West Australian by birth, she has been involved in a wide range of choral activities and music education here in Perth. A graduate of UWA and holding a Masters in Choral Performance, she led the choir in a range of performances including John Rutter’s “Requiem”, Vivaldi’s “Gloria” and Vaughan Williams “In Windsor Forest”.

Mr Warwick Stengards, 1995 –1996

A violinist in his early musical career, he turned to conducting and studied under, among others, Vladimir Verbitsky and Myer Freedman. He worked with most of the Australian symphony orchestras and has an extensive repertoire of operatic works. Choristers who sang with him will have vivid memories of an open air “Messiah” performance at Leeuwin Estate Winery.

Mr Ian Westrip, 1990 – 1994

Having studied in Perth, London and Glasgow he joined the Scottish Opera Company, first in the chorus and then as a soloist. He returned to Perth in 1980 and was involved in various music theatre ventures such as the W.A. Music Theatre Company before accepting the position of Musical Director for UWACS. His appointment as Chorus Master for the E.N.O. meant UWACS had to find a new Musical Director.

Mr Roy Rimmer, 1987 – 1989

It was as Superintendent of Music in the State Education Department that Roy Rimmer came to Perth with a background at the Royal Manchester College of Music. “Messiah” in December 1986 was his debut and this was followed next year with Verdi’s “Requiem” in a combined concert with the W.A. Youth Orchestra and other choirs in Perth. Due to personal commitments Mr Rimmer stepped down in 1989.

Mr John Winstanley, 1979 – 1986

A Melbournian by birth, John Winstanley came to Perth in 1976 after holding the post of Director of Music at Harrow School in England. His first performance with the choir was Haydn’s “The Creation” in 1980.With Margaret, his wife, herself a fine musician, he helped the choir recover from the loss of Sir Frank Callaway. For many members of the choir, his decision to present Bach’s “Mass in B minor” will remain a highlight of their choral career. Unfortunately ill health forced him to step down in 1986.

Prof. Sir Frank Callaway, 1953 – 1979

A New Zealander by birth, Sir Frank Callaway dominated the Perth musical scene for many years, first as Reader, then Professor of Music at U.W.A. Taking over when the Society had dwindled to less than 50 members, he revitalised it and formed a fruitful relationship with the W.A.S.O. In the 26 years that he led the Society he conducted a huge range of works and his contribution to Perth’s musical life was recognized with honorary degrees from U.W.A., and Melbourne University, W.A. Citizen of the Year in 1975, a knighthood in 1977 and the Order of Australia in 1995.

Mr Stephen Dornan, 1951-1952

Mr Arthur Buss, 1948 – 1950

 Mr Edward Black, 1946 – 1947

Mr A.J.Leckie 1931 – 1945

Born in Victoria, he came to Perth in 1907 after a period studying in London, to take up the position of choirmaster and organist at St. George’s Cathedral. Until his death in 1966 he founded and conducted a number of choral and orchestral groups and was a pivotal figure in Perth’s musical life.