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Bruce McKinnon

Bruce became Principal Percussionist with the NZSO in 1989, and Emeritus Principal in 2007.As a soloist with the NZSO he has performed the Bartok Piano and Percussion Concerto with Michael Houstoun, Dierdre Irons and Nicolai Albulescu. He performed Leroy Anderson’s ‘The Typewriter’ and was the marimba soloist for the soundtrack to the Nicky Caro movie Memory and Desire, with music by Peter Scholes. 2008 saw four performances of Scholes’ ‘Bonk for Metal Percussion and Orchestra’.
Bruce began his career at the age of 10 in the Mt Roskill Brass Band and went on to tour the world with the National Band of New Zealand when he was 15. He was the first New Zealand percussion student at Victoria University – graduating in 1974. Between 1980 and 1988 he was Principal Percussionist with the Auckland Philharmonia. He was also a busy session musician and regular performer with the Mercury Theatre.

Bruce toured New Zealand with several international acts including Danny La Rue, Kamahl and the Great International Circus; as well as with musicals. He played percussion for Johnny Mathis, Gladys Knight and the Pips, Gene Pitney and Thys Van Leer at their New Zealand concerts. In 1988 he toured Denmark and Holland playing New Zealand folk music. Bruce’s National Radio series Lightly Percussive – for which he was arranger, musical director and performer – ran between 1976 and 1985. He also arranged for television, including Radio Times and Twelve Bar Rhythm and Shoes. He was a performer in the Auckland Radio Orchestra in the ’70s and then arranger and conductor in the ’80s. He was a founding member of CadeNZa and occasionally plays with Stroma.

Bruce has taught at Cambridge Music School and Auckland University and currently teaches percussion at the New Zealand School of Music. He has a strong interest in Cook Island drumming and in 2000 took percussion ensemble Strike and Cook Island drummer George Upu to Europe.