Burnside SMP Staff

Chris Petch


Director of Specialist Music Programme

A proud Yorkshireman and Graduate of the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester, Chris has taught in the Music Department at Burnside High School in Christchurch since 2010. In 2016 he was appointed Head of Music and Director of the Specialist Music Programme; he also directs the school’s multi award-winning Big Band, Symphonic Wind Band, and teaches Low Brass.

In England, Chris worked as a freelance trombonist with orchestras such as the BBC Philharmonic, Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Opera North, Hallé Orchestra, and in session work for the BBC and Granada TV. Chris also worked as Senior Tutor in Brass for the Cheshire County Youth Orchestra and, prior to moving to New Zealand in 2008, held positions as Head of Music at two large secondary schools.

Since adopting New Zealand as home, Chris has presented professional development workshops for music educators and tutored the brass sections of the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Orchestra, the Christchurch Youth Orchestra and the Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra. He is the South Island Trustee of the Wellington based New Zealand Jazz Foundation.

In addition to his work in education, Chris remains an active musician, composer and arranger; he was granted a Ministry of Education study award for Term 4 of 2022 to complete a set of original compositions for Jazz Orchestra; these were premiered at the 2023 Christchurch Big Band Festival by an alumni Burnside SMP Big Band and a string orchestra with representatives from several Christchurch schools. He is a member of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra trombone section, a founding member of Christchurch Symphonic Brass and the newly founded trombone quartet “Otautahi Trombones”. Outside of music, Chris is a dog-lover and enjoys exploring the outdoors with his two Golden Retrievers alongside. He also has a passion for adventuring by motorcycle – what better place to indulge that than the paradise of the South Island?!

Carlo Ballara


Carlo Ballara trained as a violinist, at Wellington Conservatory and Victoria University, then as a postgraduate in Italy at the Accademia Chigiana, and in London at the Guildhall. In 1997 he moved to Europe. There he was a member of the Camerata of London playing as assistant concertmaster.

Lois Johnston


After graduating from the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama, Lois carved a niche for herself as an accomplished performer of early and contemporary music. In 2000, her musical life changed completely when she appeared as a flower maiden in Simon Rattle’s BBC Proms performance of Parsifal, and in so doing discovered a passion for opera. This prompted her to return to study at Birmingham Conservatoire attaining a Postgraduate Diploma specialising in opera and she has performed regularly at opera galas, recitals and in oratorio here in New Zealand and in Europe. Lois particularly enjoys maintaining her Scottish connections and has worked regularly with Scottish Opera and Edinburgh Grand Opera. She was a founder member of the Dunedin Consort and sang frequently with the John Currie Singers, Ludus Baroque and the Scottish Early Music Consort. As a professional chorister she sang for several years with the Netherlands Radio Choir, Nationale Reisopera, Choir of the Enlightenment and European Voices with whom she toured in Simon Rattle’s productions of Idomeneo (Salzburg Festival, Lucerne Festival) and Peter Grimes (Salzburg Festival). Lois is also a passionate and dedicated teacher working in three schools and from her home studio. She has taught voice at the University of Canterbury and Pettman Junior Academy and currently proudly teaches ChristChurch Cathedral Choir’s treble choristers at Cathedral Grammar School in Christchurch. In 2020, she was thrilled to take on two exciting roles at Burnside High School as their Choral Co-ordinator and vocal tutor for SMP Voice. During her time teaching at the University of Canterbury, Lois was also a member of the lecturer/student Baroque ensemble Il Raccolto and co-founded the early music ensemble Canterbury Baroque and the lutesong duo Tirsi. Lois maintains a busy performing schedule and appears regularly as a soloist with several South Island choirs and orchestras. In 2018 her band, Café Operana, recorded their first album which they launched in 2019. Lois is also a freelance writer and contributes to a variety of publications here and in the UK. In her spare time, she enjoys a mixture of tramping, sea swimming and yoga.

 Cameron Oswin


 Cameron began studying the drum kit from a young age. After playing in a wide range of bands and ensembles throughout his teenage years, he continued his studies under Ted Meager and Nick Gaffaney at the CPIT Jazz School (now Ara Music Arts). Here, he completed his Bachelor of Musical Arts, majoring in arranging and composition, with a particular interest in Afro-Cuban and jazz combo writing. During this time, Cameron performed, toured, and recorded with a diverse array of artists across various genres.

In 2011, Cameron moved to Wellington and worked as an advertising executive at Saatchi & Saatchi Advertising while also teaching and performing as a musician. It was here that he quickly realized he wanted to pursue a career in music education. He returned to Christchurch to study at the New Zealand Graduate School of Education in 2015.

Since then, he has been teaching at Burnside High School and has been involved with the Specialist Music Programme. Cameron teaches drum kit, contemporary music, and music technology. He has worked with percussionists, rock bands, songwriters, jazz combos, and choirs. Alongside his teaching, he regularly performs with the local cover band ‘No Secrets’ and several of his own original projects, including the jazz-funk fusion band ‘Half-Swole Tones’ and the post-doom metal band ‘From Moose Mountain’. Cameron finds inspiration every day working with passionate students and experiences joy in helping young musicians achieve their musical goals to a high standard.

Heleen du Plessis


Known as an accomplished cellist and dedicated educator, Dr du Plessis regularly performs as soloist with orchestras and in duo- or chamber music recitals and CD recordings with various top instrumentalists. At the University of Otago, Heleen holds the position of Senior Lecturer in cello and music performance pedagogy. As principal cellist of the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra and director of Cellists of Otago, she plays a vital role in shaping the musical landscape. Passionate about the transformative power music holds for the growth and well-being of individuals and society at large, her studies earning 7 qualifications from leading international institutions, experience and research projects focus on aspects of music performance, pedagogy, and music’s role in identity formation and cultural connection. Her research project and movement training programme, ‘Mind Muscles Movement Music’, empower performers with muscular awareness, control, and an understanding of biomechanics of effective movement and posture. Using Surface Electromyographic analyses, this comprehensive approach aims at preventing and alleviating involuntary tension, pain, and injury, ensuring effective techniques for enduring musical excellence.

John Robinson


John studied clarinet at Victoria University, Wellington and a number of scholarships and competition successes enabled him to continue his studies in London with John McCaw, at the time Principal Clarinet in the Philharmonia.

Emma Eden


Emma Eden is a proud Kiwi who began her musical life in Timaru playing in the Waimataitai School brass band. After graduating with first class honours in Wellington Emma then went on to study at the Banff Centre for Arts and in Toronto, Canada.

Karl Margevka


Karl Margevka was born and raised in Ukraine. He started to learn the Trombone at age of 12. Karl graduated from Kiev Glier’s State College of Music and Leningrad (now Saint Petersburg) Rimsky-Korsakov State Conservatoire. In 1983 Karl was appointed as a Principal Trombone with the National Symphony Orchestra of Ukraine and played there until his departure to New Zealand in 1995. With NSOU he was touring extensively as well as making recordings for labels such as Naxos and Marco Polo. In 1995 Karl joined the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra as Principal Trombone.

Cain Hood


Cain Hood is a performer, composer and engineer based in Christchurch, New Zealand. He received his musical training at Ara Music Arts School and the Music and Audio Institute of New Zealand. While at Ara Music Arts School he was taught Jazz Performance, Theory and Composition, and he discovered a passion for Jazz Combo Performance. This has led into directing the SMP Jazz programme that has experienced a wealth of success throughout the years.

Since 2004 Cain has been involved in the Christchurch music community, performing, organising or working behind the scenes at countless events in a wide range of genres and styles. The foundation of knowledge gathered from this has been fundamental in the creation of a programme that is focused on developing a well-rounded student who is able to learn, evolve and grow throughout their musical path.

Tim Emerson


Tim has been Head of Piano Performance at the University of Canterbury since 2017. He has extensive experience accompanying instrumentalists and singers at professional recitals, student recitals , exams and competitions at local and international levels. He has been official accompanist at many New Zealand competitions and festivals. He also works as a solo recitalist, concerto soloist, adjudicator and teacher to students of the highest calibre.