Pupils hold cello-bration for long-time teacher

19:20, Dec 01 2013
Ellen Doyle
PARTY PIECE: Ellen Doyle, who has been a cello teacher at the Christchurch School of Music for 50 years, joins in during a surprise concert from about 80 of her past and present pupils.

Ellen Doyle has spent most of her life inspiring others and helping budding musicians reach their potential.

And at the weekend they found a way to thank her.

About 80 of Doyle's past and present cello pupils performed together at a party on Saturday to celebrate her 50th year of teaching.

Doyle was born and raised in Timaru and started her musical career at the age of 11.

She has been teaching cello at the Christchurch School of Music since 1963.

School musical director Celia Stewart said Doyle had earned the nickname "the Velvet Bulldozer" because she was "so persuasive but gentle and kind at the same time". Stewart said Doyle knew about the party, but was unaware of the performance.


"She was totally overwhelmed and had tears in her eyes the whole time."

Christchurch Bridge Club was the perfect venue for the surprise concert as cellists waited behind big sliding doors.

Organising the performance started in March, Stewart said, and many of Doyle's past pupils lived overseas.

The Institute of Registered Musicians describes Doyle as a "powerful driving force" in Christchurch's musical world and would "move mountains to ensure that talent develops".

She played with the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra for years.

Doyle said she was "blown away" with the performance and had never expected to hear a cello orchestra made up of almost 80 people she had taught.

She said the Christchurch School of Music had "diversified intensely" in her 50 years of teaching and thought it remained a great asset to the city.

She still teaches cello and is also responsible for the school's chamber music programme.

The Press