Walter Sinton Profile

Clare Gleeson
12 Jan 2020

“I always liked to hit things,” said Dunedin music stalwart Walter (Wally) Sinton when interviewed to mark the anniversary of his 50 years of broadcasting. And hit things he did, in particular the xylophone, although he also played drums, marimba, timpani and vibraphone.

He made dozens of recordings, was early to perform on television, mentored countless musicians while he was a branch manager for Begg’s music stores, and wrote a long-running series of articles covering Dunedin entertainment history.

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Begg’s Dunedin staff with Margaret Gardiner at the piano and Walter Sinton standing top right.
Walter Sinton (left) with long service employees at Begg's.
Walter Sinton - Xylophone Melodies Vol 1, Viking 1965.
National Brass Band Championships, 10-13 May 1968.
Begg's Musical Army (of Tuition) souvenir programme cover, 1959. Walter Sinton is front row, fourth from right.
Walter Sinton with National Band of New Zealand - On The Track
Programme for the National Brass Band Championships, Auckland, 12-16 May 1965 - when events could still be sponsored by a tobacco company.
Walter Sinton and Margaret Gardiner - Flight of the Bumblebee
Walter Sinton, musician and manager of Begg's Dunedin branch, beside the sheet music and record bins c.1970.
Photo credit: Alexander Turnbull Library
Walter Sinton - Xylophone Melodies, Viking 1965.
In 1946 Australian baritone Peter Dawson – a regular visitor to New Zealand – was part of the Begg's Celebrity Artists programme, organised in Dunedin by Walter Sinton.
Begg's Palmerston North branch opening staff photo, 1943. Walter Sinton is front row, third from right.
Circus Galop - Walter Sinton and the National Band of NZ, 1963
Glass ceiling: Begg's branch managers' conference, Palmerston North, 1943. Walter Sinton is second from right in the back row. 
Begg's music shop, possibly in Dunedin c.1970
Walter Sinton and his piano accompanist Margaret Gardiner meet Queen Elizabeth II, Dunedin, 1963. At right is Maureen Kingi, Miss New Zealand 1962. Also performing for the Queen at the concert were the Howard Morrison Quartet and jazz pianist Doug Caldwell.
Begg’s managers James “Jimmie” Dixon, Bill Blackwell, and Walter Sinton in the early 1940s. 
Begg’s Celebrity Artists, from left to right: Frank Campbell (Begg’s GM), Anne Zeigler, Webster Booth, Walter Sinton.
Cover of the Walter Sinton and his Xylophone LP, released on Lyric Records and distributed via Charles Begg and Co., mid-1960s.
As seen on TV: Walter Sinton and accompanist Margaret Gardiner. The duo was among the first musicians to perform on national television.
Back cover of the Walter Sinton and his Xylophone LP, released on Lyric Records and distributed via Charles Begg and Co., mid-1960s.