Rhapsody Rotorua 2017

So I just got back from a seriously good few days in Rotorua, adjudicating at the Rhapsody Rotorua Music Festival, alongside the rather legendary Owen Clarke.

It’s a festival populated by mainly Australian groups, popping across the ditch for some music and adventure, but it always has a collection of New Zealand groups, and is a great performance opportunity for local groups from the Bay of Plenty region.

Days one and two are adjudicated sessions directly followed by clinics with an adjudicator – this was good fun, great to hear and work with so many groups.

These two days finish with rehearsals of the combined and honours groups. I took the combined string ensemble of 61 players. It was mammoth – 15 firsts, 22 seconds(!), 6 violas, 13 cellos and 5 basses. We enjoyed working on Sibelius, Holst and Leonie Holmes. Here they all are…

My 61-piece string ensemble. #music #conductor

Day three is mainly a day of instrumental workshops with specialists. As a bit of difference I said I’d do one along the lines of ‘composing for your school ensemble’. I thought I’d get 5, perhaps 10 people max. About six people turned up in the first wave, and I was about to shut the door, then I heard footsteps and I ended up with about 70 students all super excited and ready to hear some tips. We had a medium sized dressing room and were packed to the absolute brim, with people out the door too. Here they all are…

All of these glorious people came for a composition workshop. #music

Concerts Thursday and Friday nights complete the festival, and the groups have concerts elsewhere too.

I managed three pretty impressive dinners while I was there, so I thought they deserve a mention. First night was Indian Star Tandoori Restaurant – super, super delicious, and it’s located in the impressively modern Eat Streat precinct. Second night was Sabroso Restaurant – Mexican, heathy and completely hit the mark. Third night I hit the Rotorua Night Market – I remember having an almighty feast here when I was at the festival last time, but this one topped it – completely blew my socks off – glorious, fresh and great atmosphere too.

A really fun few days. Hopefully I can go back again one day!

Partaking in the greatest act of optimism

Good news! I have a couple of spots available for private music tuition – more details at the bottom.

“Teaching is the greatest act of optimism.” – Colleen Wilcox

I’m a sucker for a good quote and this one made me smile. As anyone who has taught will know, you’ve always got to be tremendously optimistic about the potential your students can achieve. And… it’s always great when it pays off.

Every week I try to keep it real by teaching/tutoring/mentoring around town. It’s always a mixed assortment of opportunities, over the last few months it’s looked like this:

Teaching at UNITEC.MAINZ, Central Auckland – I give an annual lecture on string arranging. This is really enjoyable as I get to share some of the arrangements I’ve worked on, and the students love analysing them and seeing what techniques they can use in their own work. This year the class seemed to have doubled in size, so that’s a great sign for them. Continue reading “Partaking in the greatest act of optimism”

Recording Mission Ferrari

Mission Ferrari.Back in October 2015 Rhian Sheehan asked me to help out on the music he was writing for a new rollercoaster ride at Ferrari World in Abu Dhabi. Yesterday it all came to fruition with five hours of recording down in Wellington with some of NZ’s finest musicians.

There was a 10-piece brass section and 19-piece string section from Stroma FilmWorks. Absolute credit must go to these amazing musicians who perform at such an incredible level, yet between cues are so friendly and enjoyable to work with. Continue reading “Recording Mission Ferrari”


Pacific Basin Music Festival goodies. #conductor #rangitoto #concertbandLet’s be honest, we always proceed cautiously when someone asks you for a favour… but when they’re asking you to go to Hawaii it’s a completely different story! I’m in, 100%.

To make it even better, it was with the wonderful students and staff of the Rangitoto College Music Department, conducting their concert band for a friend who sadly could no longer go. Also on the tour was the orchestra, chamber orchestra and big band.

We were there as part of the Pacific Basin Music Festival, with groups from USA, Philippines, Australia and New Zealand – about 700 people in total. Events were at the Sheraton Waikiki, Pacific Beach Hotel and Hawaii Theatre, as well as performances at the incredible Ala Moana Shopping Centre, as well as the Hard Rock Cafe for the big band. Continue reading “Hawaii!”

Scores for Modern Maori Quartet with NZSO

Music scores. #notation #copyistIt’s not often you score a nationwide tour with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, but that’s just what the Modern Maori Quartet have done and they’re going all out commissioning arrangements from several fantastic New Zealand composers: Claire Cowan, Chris Gendall, Anonymouz, Gareth Farr, Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper, Robbie Ellis and Mark Dennison,

I have thoroughly enjoyed preparing five of these new arrangements – those by Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper and Anonymouz, along with some additional orchestration.

They’re touring to 12 centres in February and March. It will be impressive, get a ticket here.

A week in LA and London

I would never give up an opportunity to travel. So when it looked like I could take a week to make it to London (to meet my wife before our Spanish adventure…!), I went for it.

First stop, Los Angeles. There I met with some very fine people in the music biz that until now I’ve never been able to meet in person. The aim of course to keep strong connections and talk possible future work.

There’s things to love about LA, and things to drive you completely loopy, but what you gotta admire is the vibe that anything is possible. Most people are there to make their dreams come true, not surprisingly mostly as actors, but what’s awesome is that there is so much opportunity for that to happen. And for the bulk of whom are still waiting, they’re still friendly, still optimistic and still driving Ubers – and they’re okay with that.

Continue reading “A week in LA and London”

Shoes Extravaganza 2016

DJ? Ringmaster? Curator of sound? Find out next Saturday, 8:30pm, Tepid Baths. #shoesextravaganzaSome friends of mine have just put on a most fascinating show at Auckland’s Tepid Baths, Shoes Extravaganza.

Everyone will no doubt have heard of the Wearable Arts show in Wellington. Well this is that, but for shoes. Annie Tatton is the brains behind the operation and she asked me to be involved with the music after hearing my work with the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.

The concept of the music within the show took so many directions throughout the journey with Annie and choreographer Nansi Thompson. What a joy to be a part of these minds coming together as they crafted their vision.

Continue reading “Shoes Extravaganza 2016”

Christmas greetings!

Well, another year has come to an end. A massive thank you to everyone who has made this year a great one. It’s been busy for sure, so much so that my newsletter and blog posts took a forced rest. I hope to write about a few of those things I’ve been up to in the coming weeks, so keep an eye out for that. In the meantime, I’m taking a holiday. The car is packed, Christmas Day awaits us tomorrow and summer fun looms.

This time last year my wife and I went to Midnight Mass at Salzburg Cathedral and the absolute highlight was hearing Silent Night sung by candlelight, as it was originally intended, in the town it was written. I took a field recording, have a listen below, it’s extraordinary.

Continue reading “Christmas greetings!”