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Douglas Mews


Born: 1918 Died: 1993


Douglas Mews was well-known as an organist, composer, teacher and church musician, working in Auckland from 1969 until his death in 1993.

He was born in 1918 in St John's, Newfoundland, Canada, where his organ studies began with R. T. Bevan, an English organist who spent some time as Organist of St John's Cathedral in St John's.

In 1936 he went to study in London at Trinity College of Music, graduating with a Bachelor of Music in 1939 and was awarded the Lafontaine Prize for his FRCO performance.

At the end of the war he was stationed as a soldier in Holland, where he met and married Nancy Radius. They settled in London, where he became professor and examiner at Trinity College, as well as studying for his Doctor of Music, which he gained in 1961. During this time Mews was Organist of St George's Catholic Cathedral, Southwark, and gave many recitals in the London area.

With family connections in Holland, he began to become familiar with the Dutch organbuilding tradition, performing and broadcasting on Dutch radio. This experience of clear, transparent sounds and responsive mechanical action completely changed his outlook on music, both in organ performance and in composition, which was becoming his major focus.

In 1963 he took up a teaching post at Colchester Technical College (now called the Colchester Institute) and then in 1969 joined the staff of the University of Auckland Conservatorium of Music as Senior Lecturer in Composition, becoming Associate Professor in 1974.

Mews directed the music at St Patrick's Cathedral, and gave the Catholic Church in NZ some much-needed help in establishing new musical traditions, post Vatican II. He was awarded a Papal Knighthood in 1990 and died, three years later, in 1993.

Improvisation was one of Mews' great skills, not only within the liturgy but also in recitals. Unfortunately, he made only one commercial recording: a recital of Buxtehude, Bach, Britten, Mozart and Mews (Gigue de Pan) played on the organ of St Thomas's, Tamaki for Kiwi Pacific Records in 1971.

Composed (63)

A Gloria with a refrain

for choir or congregation with piano or organ accompaniment

A New Zealand Christmas (The imprint of His little feet)

for a cappella SATB choir with soloists, 3m

A Sound Came from Heaven

for unaccompanied SATB choir, 3m 15s

Christmas, Come In

for SATB choir, 1m

Come now, Lord Jesus

for unison singing

Concertino for Organ and Orchestra

for organ and string orchestra, 15m

Crucifixus Pro Nobis

for a cappella SATB choir

David's Lament for Jonathan

for choir, 2m 30s

Fantasia Quaerens Ludovicum

for viola and piano, 10m

For the music of creation

for SATB choir

Ghosts, Fire, Water

for alto solo and unaccompanied mixed voices, 10m

Gigue de Pan

for organ and small drums, 4m

Give thanks for life

for SATB choir and piano

God Defend New Zealand

for two-part school choir with piano

God of all time

for SATB choir

God of the galaxies

for SATB choir

Hail Mary, full of grace!

for SATB choir

Hunger Carol

for SATB or unison singing

I will comfort you

for SATB choir

Japan Physical

for soprano and piano, 10m


for trombone and orchestra, 21m

Ke tau fakafeta'i

for unison choir and piano


a biblical opera, 1h 5m

Let's Celebrate

for SATB choir, trumpets, timpani and organ

Lucifer Illuminatus

for orchestra


for unison chorus, oboe and organ, 4m

Matilda Waltzing

arranged for voices and piano

Missa Brevis

for SATB choir, 15m

Movement for 16 Saxophones

for sixteen saxophones, 8m

O Bread of Joy

for unison choir and piano

Pohutukawa Carol

for SATB with optional accompaniment, 3m

Pokarekare (a love song)

for unaccompanied SATB choir, 2m

Prelude and Fugue

for organ, 6m

Psalm 21

for choir or congregation

Psalm 24

for congregation or choir with piano or organ accompaniment

Psalm 54

for congregation or choir with piano or organ accompaniment

Psalm 97

for congregation or choir with piano or organ accompaniment


for choir or congregation with piano or organ accompaniment

Sesqui Suite

for piano, 5m

Snowfree Carols

for unaccompanied choir

Table Talk

for choir, accordion ensemble and five percussionists, 12m

Tangi Pohutu

for solo flute, 5m

Tango Fantastique

for solo flute, 3m

The Circle of a Girl's Arms

for SATB choir and ensemble, 8m

The Cloud on the Mountain

for tenor, baritone, SATB chorus and orchestra, 50m

The First Night

for SATB choir, soprano, flute and organ, 6m

The Kiss

a biblical opera for sixteen characters, 1h 10m

The Lord's Prayer

for choir or congregation

The Love Song of Rangipouri

for unaccompanied SATB choir and solo baritone, 7m

The May Magnificat

for soprano and SATB choir, 11m

The Quarry

for choir, woodblocks and bells, 9m

The Stones of Glendalough

for piano, 18m

The Waiting Father

a biblical opera for eleven characters and chamber orchestra, 1h 5m

Three Gospel Miniatures

for flute and oboe

Three Maori Songs

for SATB choir, 5m

Touch the earth lightly

for SATB choir

Will you offer me compassion?

for SATB choir and piano

Arranged (1)

Matilda Waltzing

arranged for voices and piano