John Mills (gtr). Recorded by RNZ Concert, 3 August 1989.
John Ritchie was born in Wellington in 1921. He studied music at the University of Otago, and later at Harvard University, with Walter Piston. In 1946 he was appointed to the University of Canterbury, becoming Professor and Head of Music in 1962. He conducted many choirs and, in 1959, formed the John Ritchie String Orchestra and later the Christchurch Civic Orchestra. As a composer he is known for choral music, music for brass, concerto-type works, carols and church music. He was awarded the CANZ Citation for service to New Zealand music in 1992, and he was Professor Emeritus at Canterbury University until his death in 2014.
Whimsies, composed in 1985, was commissioned by the guitarist Edrick Banks. The three pieces are based on contrasting texts by William Shakespeare: ‘Full fathom five’ from The Tempest, ‘Tell me where is fancy bred’ from The Merchant of Venice, and ‘Blow, blow, thou winter wind’ from As You Like It.