- Christopher Norton
- Born: 1953
- Fully Represented SOUNZ Composer
Christopher Norton was born in New Zealand in 1953. He began composing at the age of 14, and, by the age of 16, had an orchestral work performed and broadcast. Having completed an honours degree in music from Otago University, Dunedin, in 1974, Chris met with some success as a pianist in New Zealand, playing with the New Zealand Symphony orchestra and broadcasting on the Concert Programme. At the same time, he was teaching music in local high schools, beginning to freelance as a composer and arranger, and had also started to play keyboards in a rock band, having becoming interested in jazz and pop.
Coming to the UK in 1977 on a University Scholarship, he studied composition at York University with Wilfred Mellers and David Blake, writing a variety of pieces, including choral works, orchestral pieces, piano music and musicals. While playing in various bands, Chris started to experiment with combinations of styles that crossed the divide between his classical background, and more contemporary popular styles.
His earliest publications were with Universal Edition in London, and included Carol Jazz- improvisations on Christmas tunes-and Sing’n’Swing, for choir, piano and percussion. In 1983, Chris was signed by Boosey & Hawkes and the first of the Microjazz series appeared – music which appealed greatly to children and teenagers but was sufficiently rooted in the classical tradition to be useful as teaching material. The series has expanded over 20 years to include music for all of the major instruments with piano, ensemble books and midi file backings. It is now the biggest selling music series for Boosey & Hawkes, with over a million sales to date.
Christopher Norton is now well established as a composer, producer, arranger and educationalist and has written stage musicals, ballet scores, piano music, popular songs and orchestral music as well as jingles and signature tunes for TV and radio. He has lectured all over the world on aspects of his work and likes to integrate traditional teaching methods with aspects of modern technology. He has also found time to produce huge numbers of albums for the gospel market, with releases worldwide selling in excess of 1,000,000 units.
List of websites:
Christopher Norton’s main Boosey & Hawkes composer website, this site contains biographical details, sound clips, video clips, a complete listing of published sheet music, a composer blog and a forum. Essential for up-to-date information on Christopher Norton’s publications and news of recent, current and future workshops, festivals and other events around the world.
A website dedicated to midi files of music by Christopher Norton, all published by Boosey & Hawkes. Many of these extremely useful midi files are no longer commercially available. New midi files are constantly being added. Entire books as well as individual files are on the site for download.
Christopher Norton’s Connections is a major piano series (8 levels) written for Frederick Harris in Canada. Many of the pieces are on the RCME syllabus in Canada and the books have become very popular with students in all of North America. Connections backing tracks and midi files are also available for download from this site.
American Popular Piano is a significant new piano course, with music by Christopher Norton and editorial oversight by Scott McBride Smith, a very well-known American teacher. Stretching ultimately to nearly 50 books, the series starts students at the age of 7 and keeps them playing until they are 18. It has repertoire books, it teaches improvisation in a radical and effective new way, it encourages sight-reading and ear-training and it has scale books! The course is gradually being adopted by both private teachers and educational institutions around the world.Source: Christopher Norton, August 2009 - biography used with permission