Synthony 2017

Synthony 1Saturday night is going to be a totally epic night as Synthony kicks off in Auckland. DJ + vocalists + choir + symphony orchestra + an incredible visual feast which I’m not sure the Town Hall has ever seen before.

“Leave your Nan at home, THIS IS NOT AN ORCHESTRA AS YOU KNOW IT or a sit down affair… this an event you will lose your sh*t at.”

And yes, the rumours are true, I’ll be up the back thrashing the tambourine and caressing the thunder sheet as part of our impressive percussion section.

But, it’s been quite a journey leading up to this, and I haven’t actually posted much about it, so here’s a run down.

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Bringing together the classic Porgy and Bess Overture

Pretty special few days typesetting the glorious Porgy and Bess Overture, arranged by Russ Garcia for Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong’s 1957 album, ‘Porgy and Bess’.

The access and digitisation of the score was courtesy of his wife, Gina.

Check it out at the Auckland Symphony Orchestra’s ‘Jazz!’ concert, Auckland Town Hall, on July 26th.

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…

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Captain McBoyle docks at the APO

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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

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‘Rakiura’ premieres in Auckland

Last week I had the pleasure of conducting the premiere of my new work, Rakiura, at the Auckland Town Hall and then at the Bruce Mason Centre. It was tremendously well received and I am thrilled.

I initially posted about this project here, when we were asking for help via Kickstarter to bring the project to life. Well, we got there, and in early October I got to work.

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Rakiura album images on my floor

With the music following a movie of images I had a task getting my head into the story, so I printed out the book and spread it out on my floor and it all started to come together.

Here’s the programme note:

“Rakiura” is a story of life on Stewart Island, Rakiura, a remote island at the southern end of New Zealand. The piece was commissioned to accompany a photographic album and exhibition by Keri Moyle and follows the album’s five distinct sections. Warm strings pay tribute to the beauty of the scenery, woodwinds evoke the magnificent birdlife, foreboding brass builds apprehension as humans arrive and make their mark on the land, and then as humans withdraw the land flourishes once again with its harsh yet tranquil beauty.

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Help to kickstart Rakiura

Rakiura photo 1

My exquisite wife Wendy and I walked the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island over New Year. It was absolutely amazing – the scenery and wildlife was breathtaking. A highlight was when a Stewart Island Brown Kiwi (Tokoeka) walked across the track in front of us in the middle of the afternoon – it was beyond amazing. I stored these memories away and didn’t expect much would come of them…

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Tweeting from the NZSO NYO

Pondering the @nzsonyo programme!I was very happy to get a twitter message from the NZSO National Youth Orchestra earlier in the week offering me free tickets to last night’s concert if I would tweet from it through the night.

Obviously, I jumped at the opportunity. I’m guessing they chose me as a composer – there was a new New Zealand work on the programme – and they also asked pianist Jason Bae – I’m sure to give insight on piano soloist Lara Melda.

You may be wondering, I wasn’t allowed to tweet during the actual concert just before, during the interval and afterwards.

Here are some of my tweets:

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