Michael Hankinson (OH 1957-1962)
Michael Hankinson was a Boarder in Deanery in the late Fifties, early Sixties. During his time at the Cathedral School, not only was Michael a chorister but he also studied the organ as part of his musical education alongside the three ' R's ' ! On leaving HCS, he went to the Trinity College of Music then studied organ performance with John Webster at Queen's College, Oxford where he learned the art of conducting with Charles Proctor.

Eminent composer as well as organist & conductor

In 1970 Michael emigrated to South Africa where he was later appointed Resident Composer to RPM Film Studios. Further organ studies were continued with Stephanus Zondagh and conducting studies were undertaken with Francesco Mander and with Maurice Handford, both Principal Conductors of the National Symphony Orchestra of South Africa. Michael later worked with Werner Andreas Alberts of the Nuremberg Symphony Orchestra with which orchestra Michael recorded works by Tchaikowsky and Von Einem for EMI Classics for Pleasure.

In 1980 he moved to Durban where he was City Organist and later City Music Advisor. Whilst in Durban Michael formed the “Soundwaves” contemporary music group, being an ensemble that performed more than thirty South African premiére performances of contemporary music under his direction. He later revived the Durban Philharmonic Orchestra, originally formed in 1885, which still functions today as the Durban City Orchestra.

The 21st Republic Festival of South Africa

In 1981 Michael composed the music for this spectacular pageant that celebrated the new beginning of South Africa. Since then, he has been involved in some of the most exciting musical events that have taken place in the Republic ever since.

He conducted the gigantic 120 piece National Orchestra for the inauguration of President F W de Klerk, and in 1994 wrote a number of special arrangements and conducted at the wonderful concert given in front of the Union Buildings in Pretoria for the inauguration of President Mandela.

Michael started this idea in Durban in 1985 and, as well as his "Philharmonic Rock" and "Jakaranda Pops" sell-out concert series staged throughout SA, he has also worked with Mbongeni Ngema (of Sarafina fame) to create orchestral arrangements that are an integral part of the musical "Mama" that took place in Durban and which subsequently toured so successfully internationally.

Always an innovator, it was Michael who first brought Rick Wakeman to South Africa to perform "Journey to The Centre of the Earth" as part of the Durban Arts Festival. He followed this with the first orchestral concert to use laser lighting when he took the Natal Philharmonic Orchestra into "Outer Space". This was followed by "Beatlemania" and "Monster Rock" and then in 1993 he conducted the Transvaal Philharmonic Orchestra in a live accompaniment to the famous silent movie of Buster Keaton "The General", the first time that this had been done in South Africa.

A World First.

Michael was principal conductor at the magnificent "Classic Aid" concert staged by Gemini Productions at Centurion Park, where an audience of several thousand heard M H's symphonic arrangements for a multi-cultural programme that involved artists representing all the various aspects of music in South Africa.

Co-Founder of two Education Projects

After 10 years as Resident Conductor at The State Theatre, Pretoria, where he assisted Carlo Franchi, MH was appointed Conductor Laureate and Composer-in-Residence to The Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra as well as Principal Conductor to the Cape Town City Ballet. During this time he helped to establish 2 charities known as SDTTEP ( State Theatre-Tshwane Education Project ) and SAMET ( South African Music Education Trust ) the latter being the largest music education project in SA helping over 3,500 children.

Two Awards

In 2004, Michael conducted The Johannesburg Philharmonic Orchestra during a world premiére recording of the Violin Concerto by the black English composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor. The soloist was Philippe Graffin and the CD was nominated " Editors Choice " in the influential Gramphone magazine as well as being awarded a " Pizzacato " in Luxembourg.

UK & Eire debut

Michael returned to his native England in 2006 to conduct The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra in a gala fund raising concert in London, hosted by Lord Richard Attenborough. Later he travelled across the Irish Sea to Dublin to conduct the European premiére of " Queen at the Ballet " for which MH wrote the entire orchestration and arrangements.

Michael is currently Resident Ballet Conductor at the State Theatre working with the PACT Ballet Company and The New Arts Philharmonic Orchestra. In addition he is also Principal Guest Conductor with the National Chamber Orchestra based in Mmbatho.
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