Richard Chandler of the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra has passed away after being struck by an oncoming train.

New Zealand has lost one of their finest musicians after Richard Chandler, Associate Principal Bassoon with Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, passed away after a collision accident on Wednesday February 10.

Chandler, 52, was riding his bike across the Fendalton Road level crossing in Christchurch when he was struck by an oncoming train. Police believe the level crossing lights were working at the time of the accident, however there are no safety pedestrian barriers. Chandler was a frequent cyclist, known to often ride his bike to rehearsals and classical piano lessons for his students.


Chandler’s bike being removed from the scene by a police officer. Photo: Kirk Hargreaves via stuff.co.nz

One of New Zealand’s most dedicated musicians, Chandler played with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra since 1983. The Orchestra’s marketing manager Michelle Wash said in an interview with New Zealand’s The Press that Chandler was a “highly regarded and valued” member of the orchestra. “It’s such an incredible sad and difficult time for everyone. His loss will be sorely felt throughout the community and he will be very missed.”  Chandler began studying bassoon at the age of 11, and undertook further studies in both bassoon and piano at London’s famed Guildhall School of Music, going on to win the National Concerto Competition with a performance of Tchaikovsky’s First Piano ConcertoHe was also an avid traveller, having visited 78 countries across all seven continents.


Chandler, second from top-right, with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra

Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s conductor Luke Di Somma paid tribute to Chandler on Facebook on the evening of the accident. “As a bassoonist in our civic orchestra, and as one of our leading pianists and teachers, he was a well known and respected member of the Christchurch music community,” Di Soma wrote. “But I’ll remember not only a really, really good musician, but a man of great passion – who loved travelling to bizarre and exotic places. I recall him coming up after concerts and telling me where he was going the next day, in quite some detail, and how exited he was about his travels. I didn’t know him very well at all, but he left an impression on me all the same. A man who loved music and teaching; a man so talented sometimes you’d even feel him looking you thinking. “really? – this isn’t THAT hard” and a man who loved travelling and sharing that travel with people.”

Our thoughts are with his family and friends.