Cyclist killed after being struck by train was a 'musician of great integrity'

Police say the accident happened at the Fendalton Road crossing shortly after 8am. Photo / Kurt Bayer
Police say the accident happened at the Fendalton Road crossing shortly after 8am. Photo / Kurt Bayer

Tributes have flowed in for musician Richard Chandler who died yesterday after he was struck by a train while cycling in Christchurch.

Police said the 52-year-old, who was well-known in musical circles as a popular piano teacher and the associate principal bassoonist in the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra (CSO), died after his bicycle and a train collided at the Fendalton Rd railway crossing at 8.11am.

His death has shaken Christchurch's music community.

CSO chief conductor, Benjamin Northey, wrote an emotional tribute to Mr Chandler on the company website labelling him a "terrific person" and a "musician of great integrity".

"He was blessed with an incredibly engaging personality and a vigour for life which was unique and inspiring. I know I speak for all of us at the CSO when I say that we are utterly devastated by the news of Richard's sudden passing.

An orchestra is like a family in many ways, we are the sum of our people," he wrote.

"We each rely on each other to make music and be a part of something bigger than ourselves. Richard was an integral part of our orchestra. I will always cherish our interactions and particularly the performances we shared."

CSO conductor Luke Di Somma paid tribute to Chandler on Facebook last night, saying he was "shocked and saddened" by the news.

"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 Somma said.

"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 excited 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 at you thinking 'really? -- this isn't THAT hard' and a man who loved travelling and sharing that travel with people.

"My condolences to his family and friends."

Mr Chandler's profile on the CSO website said he began studying bassoon at the age of 11, and first played for the civic orchestra in 1983.

He studied piano and bassoon at the Guildhall School of Music in London between 1987 and 1991, and became the CSO's second bassoonist the following year.

An accomplished pianist, he won the National Concerto Competition in 1985 with a performance of the Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto No 1.

The profile said he kept a busy piano-teaching schedule and was also active as a soloist and accompanist, occasionally appearing as a piano soloist with the orchestra.

The orchestra website said he was an avid traveller and photographer.

"He has now visited 78 countries in all seven continents. Two highlights have been travelling to the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the Antarctic Peninsula in 2006 and, on the other side of the world, photographing polar bears in Spitsbergen in 2012."

He was also "a keen cook" and a "Coronation Street addict".

Senior Sergeant Roy Appley said investigations to determine what led to Chandler's death were continuing.

"Mr Chandler is a well-known local man and our thoughts are with his family and the other members of our community who were involved in this event, at this sad time."

The death has been referred to the coroner.

- NZ Herald

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