Preparing for Mahana

Mahana posterI had the great pleasure of working on the Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper and Tama Waipara score for Mahana – a new feature film opening in cinemas on March 3. It’s directed by Lee Tamahori and based on the Bulibasha book by Witi Ihimaera. The best place to read more about it is probably the movie Facebook page, so check that out.

I was doing the music preparation, some orchestration and also flew to Wellington for the main day of recording to ensure everything worked a treat.

The score is really stunning, has a unique New Zealand flavour and it’s so great to see new voices coming through in New Zealand film scoring. It was my first time working with Mahuia and I definitely hope not the last.

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Orchestrating ‘Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses’

I was delighted to recently orchestrate Rhian Sheehan’s score for ‘Belief: The Possession of Janet Moses’ – a new film premiering at this year’s NZ International Film Festival.

The film is about the 2007 Wainuiomata mākutu lifting of Janet Moses. I haven’t seen the film myself yet but everything I’ve heard is that it is an impressive production.

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‘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:

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‘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

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Musical adventures in Europe

Eiffel Tower, ParisIf you have been following my twitter page you will know that I have just got back from an absolutely wonderful seven weeks in Europe. While most of the time my wife and I were doing our best to elegantly float from historic building to museum to gallery…, we did manage to make the most of the amazing musical offerings that Europe provides.

We saw two orchestral concerts – the first being the London Symphony at the Barbican playing Brahms’ 3rd symphony and 2nd piano concerto (photo above). Daniel Harding was at the helm with Emanuel Ax on piano. The second was the Czech Philharmonic in Dvořák Hall of the Rudolfinum. Jiří Bělohlávek conducted Martinů’s “What Men Live By” and then Dvořák’s Slavonic Dances. Such a thrill to hear Dvořák played in his own concert hall by an orchestra that he conducted the first concert of in 1896. Amazing also to hear how two of the world’s top orchestras can sound so completely different.

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Prepping music for The Hobbit’s “The Last Goodbye”

I was delighted to play a small role on the final song on the soundtrack for The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.

As was the case in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the tremendously wonderful Victoria Kelly was called on to write the arrangement and orchestration for the final track, “The Last Goodbye”, and so I landed the music preparation role.

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“On The Rocks” off to Tropfest!

On The Rocks

An accidental ‘serial pet killer’ thinks his luck has changed when he stumbles across a beautiful mermaid – but he soon finds she’s no fairy tale girlfriend.

Just before Christmas I had the pleasure of working once again with the guys at Sideways Productions on the music for their new short film, On The Rocks. After having great success with our efforts last year on Sounds Perfect

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“Sounds Perfect” goes to Austin

I am super proud of my friends at Sideways Productions who are enjoying success with their film, Sounds Perfect, including selection for the Austin Film Festival.

Sounds Perfect wins!

  • Official selection, AUSTIN FILM FESTIVAL 2013
  • Official selection, TROPFEST NEW ZEALAND 2013
  • Official selection, WAIROA MAORI FILM FESTIVAL (NZ) 2013
  • Official selection, imagineNATIVE
  • Winner, best actor, TROPFEST NEW ZEALAND 2013
  • Winner, best Maori director, TROPFEST NEW ZEALAND 2013

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The best of 2012

2012 was a year full of great things, cool things, intriguing things, wonderful things and things to completely knock your socks off. Here’s my list of the best (musical and digital) things of 2012.


Sibelius 7One of the first things I do each day is read all of the blog posts that are waiting eagerly for me in Google Reader. There are three feeds that, without fail, I will read and learn something from every time.

  • Of Note – a Sibelius and Finale blog by the legendary Robert Puff.
  • Sibelius Blog – hints, tricks and interesting stories about Sibelius by Philip Rothman (originally Daniel Spreadbury).
  • Technology in Music Education – if you’re a music teacher of some description you’ll love hearing about how the latest technologies can be used in music education.


behindbarscover I’m usually not a big reader of actual books but there are some that sit pride of place on my shelf, actually, only when they’re not sitting open on my desk.

  • Behind Bars by Elaine Gould – my bible of music notation. I’d really love a digital version too!
  • How to Write for Percussion by Samuel Z Solomon – the title sounds very underwhelming, but is a wonderfully comprehensive guide to writing for percussion.
  • Essential Dictionary of Orchestration – mine is looking old and tatty – a good sign! It’s an essential reference for instrument ranges, general characteristics, tone quality descriptions, technical pitfalls and more.

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