A festival, a premiere, an award

My annual pilgrimage to the KBB Music Festival was a little more exciting this year.

Firstly, a new premiere!

Grammar Virtuosi, from Auckland Grammar School, commissioned me to write a new work for strings and percussion this year to mark the anniversary of when Grammar men went to the battle of Passchendaele in the first world war. It’s called Foray.

“foray: a sudden attack or incursion into enemy territory”

It’s been great popping along to some of their rehearsals and working with them on the piece, once such occasional pictured above. Huge thanks to their director, James Donaldson, and tutor, Boris Kipnis, for their tremendous support of the piece. Continue reading “A festival, a premiere, an award”

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”

‘The Forest Room’ reaches Auckland finals

The 48Hours film-making weekend is always one to look forward to and this year we struck ‘mystery’ as our genre – good fun. Compared to previous years, the team was cut to only four crew and rightfully so one of those was a composer!

This year we managed to make the Auckland finals and the guys picked up an award for best editing. Yay.

The film has very little dialogue and so I managed to create a single piece of music to last the whole film. Here’s how it was looking in Logic:

Continue reading “‘The Forest Room’ reaches Auckland finals”

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”

‘School of Fools’ makes it to Tropfest finals

Last weekend we went to delightful New Plymouth to the Tropfest NZ finals. Sideways Productions has got into the finals the last three years, and I have enjoyed being part of the team. We finally had the chance to head down and see what all the hype was all about. It was a great event with some wildly good films (see all the finalists here).

At The Tropfest NZ Finals
Watching the finalists at the Bowl of Brooklands, Pukekura Park, New Plymouth

Continue reading “‘School of Fools’ makes it to Tropfest finals”

Recent performances, awards and successes

Here’s an update on happenings over the last little while – mostly other people’s successes that I played a small part in.

It was great to see a recent post on the SOUNZ Facebook page about the recording of Robert Burch’s “Essay to the memory of Dmitri Shostakovich” in Wellington (photo above) by Richard Mapp (piano) and Andrew Joyce (cello). I typeset this back in January for SOUNZ and I can’t wait to hear how it has come together with these two amazing performers.

Back on October 30th was the annual APRA Silver Scroll awards and it was a huge pleasure to have worked on the scores of two of the finalists for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award – “Inner Phases” (for the Forbidden City Chamber Orchestra and the NZ String Quartet) by Michael Norris and “Solstice” (recorded by the NZSO) by Leonie Holmes. Congrats to Michael for taking the title! Also, Victoria Kelly well-deservedly won best score for “Field Punishment No.1” – a score I worked on through the night, tucked up in an Auckland hotel – long story.

Continue reading “Recent performances, awards and successes”

‘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.

Continue reading “‘Rakiura’ premieres in Auckland”

ANBOC conference 2014, Melbourne

This year seems to be all about upskilling for me and attending the Australian National Band and Orchestra Clinic in Melbourne from the 12th to 15th of September was a decent part of it.

ANBOC brings together professional development, outstanding performances, and networking of directors. A distinguished collection of international and domestic presenters, conductors, and performers form the core of the conference program.

Continue reading “ANBOC conference 2014, Melbourne”

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…

Continue reading “Help to kickstart Rakiura”