Dr Indra Hughes is widely recognized as one of the most distinguished musicians working in New Zealand today. He received his early training at the cathedral in Blackburn, Lancashire, and at Oriel College, Oxford, where he was Organ Scholar and also took a degree in Law. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists and also holds the Gerald H Knight Memorial Prize for the highest marks in the RCO Choir Training Diploma examinations.
In March 2007 he became the first person in New Zealand to be awarded the degree of Doctor of Musical Arts (University of Auckland), with a thesis presenting new theories about the unfinished ending of Contrapunctus 14 from JS Bach's The Art of Fugue. In September 2007 he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.
He held a number of church music positions in England before settling in New Zealand in 1995 as Organist and Director of Music at the Anglican cathedral in Auckland. He now works as a freelance conductor, organist, harpsichordist, examiner and speaker and he is a well known and popular broadcaster for Radio New Zealand, having presented his own series as well as many Composer of the Week programmes (including eight programmes about JS Bach); he is also Organist and Choirmaster at All Saints, Ponsonby.
He is the founder and Conductor of Musica Sacra, one of the finest and most successful choirs in New Zealand, much admired for the warmth and passion of its thrilling singing, the wide range of its repertoire and its emphasis on the highest performance standards. Since the founding of the choir in 1998, Musica Sacra has grown under Indra's leadership into one of the country's foremost cultural assets. In March 2011 Indra and Musica Sacra brought the celebrated German countertenor Andreas Scholl to Auckland for a special, sold-out concert at Auckland Town Hall.
A highlight of Indra’s organ performances in recent years was his presentation of Bach's The Art of Fugue, which he first performed in 2000, the Bach anniversary year. This concert had the distinction of being the only organ concert in Auckland ever to be completely sold out; he took this work on tour around New Zealand in October 2002 and in 2008 performed it to much acclaim in England after studying at first hand Bach’s original manuscripts of the work at the Staatsbibliothek in Berlin. He has also performed Bach's Goldberg Variations on the organ. Other recitals have included acclaimed performances of the English Romantic repertoire and he has given concerts in prestigious venues such as Westminster Abbey, Melbourne Cathedral and Dunedin Town Hall. In 2010 Indra was one of the organists for the opening of the magnificent new organ in Auckland Town Hall, and was also invited to give one of the prestigious official inaugural recitals—a concert which attracted an estimated audience of 1350.
He has directed the music for Her Majesty the Queen on three occasions in England and New Zealand, including the great service of thanksgiving for the opening of the completed cathedral in Auckland in 1995.
As Chairman of the Friends of the Auckland Town Hall Organ, Indra worked with City Organist Dr John Wells and the Town Hall Organ Trust to help raise the profile of the important project—now superbly completed by Klais Orgelbau—to build the new Town Hall Organ.
In June 2010 Indra was elected Vice-President of the New Zealand Association of Organists, Acting President in 2011, and President in 2012.