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”

Going digital with forScore

While conducting the wind band at the recent Bay of Plenty Music School I finally had the chance to test using digital scores. I’ve always been intrigued – have already blogged about it twice – but only with a new iPad have I had the chance of taking the full digital leap. Here are my thoughts…


An iPad Air 2 sits, charged, ready for action. I already had some of the scores as PDFs which was a great start. Then I scanned the rest using Scanner Pro which kindly then drops the file into my Dropbox. Then in comes forScore – a sheet music reader app and the absolute hero of the equation – I import the files straight from Dropbox and then it’s all ready to go.

Continue reading “Going digital with forScore”

APO 4 Kids – ‘Rainbow Connection’

Have you got some little scallywags intrigued by music? And perhaps rainbows? You’d better get them along to the APO’s latest concert for pre-schoolers, “Rainbow Connection”.

I’ve been working away at the arrangements and it’s going to be a great show. Here’s what this show is about:

The colours of the rainbow are so pretty in the sky! The Little Rainbow is especially lucky, because he can wear all of them at once. But one sad day the colours disappear and the Little Rainbow just cannot find them anywhere. He asks his friends, the Rainbow Sea Creature troupe and four APO musicians, who each have one colour, to come and help him…

Continue reading “APO 4 Kids – ‘Rainbow Connection’”

Captain McBoyle docks at the APO

image FestusMcBoyle
Captain Festus McBoyle

Ahoy there me hearties!

Back in September I had the great pleasure of orchestrating five songs by Captain Festus McBoyle – the star of this weekend’s four APO4Kids Christmas concerts.

On Wednesday it all came to life as the APO, conductor David Kay and all of the performers rehearsed and ran the show.

The Festus McBoyle tracks are:

  • A Pirate’s Life
  • Bogey Bogey
  • Hoist The Jolly Roger
  • Sonia The Snake
  • Walk The Plank

Continue reading “Captain McBoyle docks at the APO”

The Polkadots and the APO

Polkadots + APO

All aboard. Magic carpets are passing now!

Ah yes, the lines for every Polkadots song still resonate in my head. In fact throughout the concert both my wife and I knew every word. I guess we had heard it hundreds of times at home as I worked on the arrangements.

Last Saturday was the first of the Polkadots “Magic Carpet” shows. It really was something quite special. While I’ve written a lot of arrangements – never a whole show for a pro orchestra with singing, dancing and narration.

Continue reading “The Polkadots and the APO”

The Polkadots get ready to meet the APO

PolkadotsOver the last few weeks I have been orchestrating and arranging the music of the Polkadots and writing some new material for their show, Magic Carpet Ride, with the Auckland Philharmonia in March.

There are eight pieces in total for my contribution, each varies greatly in style from Caribbean, salsa, lullaby, Maori, ballad, storytelling, blues, and more – making it loads of fun to bring to life with the orchestra.

Continue reading “The Polkadots get ready to meet the APO”

Merry Christmas

christmasAnd just like that, another year is coming to an end.

Thanks so much to everyone who has supported me in some way this year – that may have been with work, with ideas or just with conversation.

It has been an incredible time of music making for me with many wonderful opportunities, inspiring people to work with and some stunning ensembles and musicians to bring the music to life. Some of these include:

Continue reading “Merry Christmas”

Some merry arrangements!

Over the last few weeks my Christmas arrangements have been popping up all over the place. The concert I’m most looking forward to is…

ASO Christmas
Last night’s dress rehearsal!

Tonight the Auckland Symphony Orchestra give their hugely popular and FREE Christmas concert at the Auckland Town Hall. The 90-strong orchestra team up with the Choir from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, along with combined Auckland church choirs, in this annual Christmas Celebration under the direction of Peter Thomas.

Each year I orchestrate a selection of the stunning choral arrangements by Niu Syddall and they also include some of my own arrangements.

Continue reading “Some merry arrangements!”

“Tiraki” steps out into the world

Hamish McKeich applauses
Conductor Hamish McKeich applauses.

A week ago today my new work for organ and orchestra, “Tiraki”, was premiered by the Auckland Philharmonia.

It went fantastically well, I was very happy, as was my fantastic organist, Nick Forbes. The overall structure worked, we developed an exciting organ part and the orchestrations were exactly how I envisioned.

Tiraki organist Nick Forbes taking applause
Tiraki organist Nick Forbes taking applause.

Thanks to everyone who came to the concert or tuned in live on Radio NZ and provided us with such positive comments about the piece.

Congratulations also goes to the wonderful David Hamilton, Anthony Young, Robbie Ellis, Ben Hoadley and Chris Adams for their superb premieres.

Here is an interview from Radio New Zealand’s Arts On Sunday programme on 26th May with Hamish McKeich, Kerry Stevens, Nick Forbes and myself talking about the collaboration and concert (recorded before the concert, broadcast after the concert).

Continue reading ““Tiraki” steps out into the world”