Tag Archives: nzso

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:

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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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I survived 2012. This is how it was!

The New Year means it’s time to have a look back over the past year and see, through my blog posts, what has taken shape and what I have to say for myself!

January started with a very well deserved “Shout-out to VaultPress” after they marvellously got my website back up and running after a meltdown!

3100508059_5c99a0f9e1_zFebruary is the start of the school term and I posted about the preparation work I do for schools.

My typing fingers must have been tired at the end of March – it started with two popular posts, iOS apps for music professionals and Digital music stands vs iPads, following on from, again, two very popular posts I did in 2010.

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Questions for a composer

School_WorkEvery now and then I get sent an email from a student who is doing an assignment on a “living musician”, or a “real composer”, or on how to “make it in the music industry”.

Recently I got a list of questions from Jayde, a student at Kerikeri High School. I first met Jayde when I did some composition workshops there last year. He had a great list of questions and I thought they, and the answers, were worth sharing.

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2010 through the eyes of a blog

monkey-thinkingIt is December 31 and I just wondered “what exactly has happened this year?”

So through the eyes of this blog, let’s have a look. We’ll start with January and the tail end of our South America trip, along with the workshopping and recording of my music in Brazil.

January 4th Leg Four – Argentina to Paraguay to Brazil
January 11th Leg Five – Rio de Janeiro to Paraty to Auckland
January 12th A day with Sphaera

After spending too many hours hunting down good repertoire for my school orchestras, in February I explored the efforts of conducting. I also set up my newsletter with MailChimp.

February 20th Conducting – 90% perspiration, 10% exhilaration
February 26th Automating the monthly issue

It was a plentiful month of posts in March, many on great discoveries I recently made but also highlighted a new piece, Picture for Emily, for my niece.

March 14th Sibelius First – if you’re so inclined
March 15th Moana Ataahua programme launched
March 16th Picture for Emily – aiming for the small market
March 16th Scoring Avatar
March 18th My indispensables
March 19th If Lake Taupo was a piece of music, what would it sound like?

In April it was all about preparing Moana Ataahua for its massive premiere at the ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival.

April 24th Moana Ataahua set to ERUPT in May (article from SOUNZ)
April 28th Moana Ataahua, the rehearsals begin

I explored digital music stands in May, how they compare and how I wanted one. Do I still want one now? That is another post!

May 15th Digital music stands, hook me up – Music Pad, Music Reader, eStand

I summed up the Moana Ataahua premiere in June and did a very popular post on music apps for your iOS devices.

June 1st Moana Ataahua, the premiere
June 2nd iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad apps for the music professional

It was great to see plenty of music getting performed through July.

July 12th Wild Daisies premiere
July 18th Breathe In, Breathe Out – a concert of overtures and finales
July 27th SoundCloud, move your music
July 29th Three pieces performed by Brazil’s Sphaera Ensemble

The Auckland schools orchestra festival happened in August, so did some pondering on music theory.

August 27th Sounds great! I want it, I want it now
August 30th KBB Music Festival 2010, thumbs up
August 31st Music theory, do we need it or not?

Spent a fantastic few days in Wellington in September recording Rakaia with the NZSO. Also, Rhian Sheehan’s amazing score for The Cult, which I helped out with, won best score!

September 9th More iPhone/iPod Touch/iPad apps for the music professional
September 20th The Cult wins at Qantas Film and Television Awards
September 23rd NZSO/SOUNZ Readings 2010

In November I did a three part post looking at music printing, engravers, copyists and how things are changing. I also hooked up Sibelius users with some great resources!

November 29th So, you’re a Sibelius user?
November 30th Music printing, a journey for engravers (part 1 of 3)
November 30th Music copying and confusion (part 2 of 3)
November 30th Changing times for music preparers (part 3 of 3)

As you would expect, I got festive in December but also looked at a new feature for sounz.org.nz.

December 7th A Christmas wish list for composer-musicians
December 24th SOUNZ moves forward, again
December 24th Merry Christmas and very best wishes for the New Year

Happy New Year everyone!!

A Christmas wish list for composer-musicians

It is that time of the year again and your family and friends are most probably asking for ideas of what to get you for Christmas.

Here are my top ideas for all composer-musicians:

SoundCloud gift voucher – SoundCloud is one of the most valuable online resources for composers and musicians. To really unleash its power you need to go premium and even better, get someone to gift you a subscription.

How to Write for Percussion: a comprehensive guide to percussion composition” – Percussion is always a challenging group of instruments to write for properly – this book in absolutely incredible and an essential resource. It was given to me by EJ Dobson, get it on Amazon here.

Mollard conducting batons – Most composer-musicians will conduct their music, many twilight in conducting further. Mollard batons are absolutely supreme, I have several – they will even engrave your name on it.

Evernote subscription – Every composer-musician has so many ideas to remember and projects to oversee, with Evernote you can now remember everything!! Gift a subscription here.

New Zealand Symphony Orchestra subscription (or your local orchestra) – Every composer-musician needs a regular dose of the finest music in the land. Buy them a subscription or tickets to just one great night (PDF).

iTunes voucher – Not only necessary to top up your stock of Beethoven, Rachmaninov, Mahler and Ligeti, you can purchase all of the incredible iPhone/iPad/iPod Touch apps that are made for professional musicians. In fact, check out my two posts on the best pro music apps to get: the first post here and the second post here.

A gift of time – If you don’t want to spend money why not give a voucher to say you will do all of their jobs and chores for a weekend (or heck, a week) so they can hibernate and write some very fine music. That is priceless!

I hope there is something there to add to your Christmas list. Let me know your best ideas!

NZSO/SOUNZ Readings 2010

I’m sitting on the plane after a fantastic two days in Wellington at the 2010 NZSO/SOUNZ Readings.

It seemed very relaxed this time around as the format was slightly different. Usually the pieces are purely workshopped and are often early on in their development. This time the pieces were chosen from previous NZSO/SOUNZ Readings to be recorded properly and then released. So it was a nice relaxed atmosphere with no nervous composers, or players for that matter. Also the fact that one piece had pulled out meant all of the other pieces got extra time, which made it even more stress-free.

NZSO SOUNZ readings 2
Photo by Anita Rodley from sounz.org.nz.

The pieces were a nice mix from Tom McLeod’s epic film work, to Claire Cowan’s very clever Legend of the Trojan Bird, to the heavier pieces by Gillian Whitehead and John Rimmer. All fantastic composers, so it was great to hear their recordings being created.

My piece, Rakaia, went really well. I knew everything worked, so it was just a matter of getting a good solid recording. Well, what do you know? After rehearsing a few spots, they nailed it very early on. I was very pleased – it sounded incredible.

NZSO SOUNZ readings 1
Photo by Anita Rodley from sounz.org.nz.

 

You’ve got to wonder what these players, and conductor Luke Dollman, are made of, as the NZSO/Todd Young Composer Workshop was (rather ambitiously) scheduled in the two days before the SOUNZ workshop. All up, in four days they recorded fifteen pieces – pretty good effort and great to see so many New Zealand works getting workshopped and recorded.

During the trip I managed to pop in and see the new SOUNZ office. They are now nicely situated just off Cuba Street and they’ve got a wonderful view of Wellington City. Also great to finally meet Julie Sperring, the new Executive Director of SOUNZ, who’s going to be a superstar ambassador of New Zealand music.

Another recording down, bring on the next one…

The Cult wins at Qantas Film and Television Awards

Big congratulations to Rhian Sheehan, who won Best Original Music in General Television at this year’s Qantas Film and Television Awards for his score on The Cult.

the-cult

Rhian asked me to do a series of string arrangements for his score based on his main theme. These were then recorded by members of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra in Wellington and used throughout the thirteen episodes.

The Cult also won awards in acting, design, editing and cinematography for the Great Southern Television production.

Blogs – read, write, sing, play

I have a routine: every morning I wake up, lean over and pick up my iPhone, I check the news, then I read all of the latest feeds from my favourite blogs. The blogs are music ones of course, and for years I have been filtering through them and the ones I like are the ones that stay. I use the term of “blog” rather loosely – some of these are actual blogs, some are more updates and news, but all just as interesting and worthwhile. Just a note, the links are to the actual RSS feed, not to the website, so they will open in your RSS reader.

  • Sibelius Blog: A must if you’re a Sibelius user. News, interviews, the latest movies to be scored on Sibelius, tips and more. Run by Daniel Spreadbury, Sibelius’s Senior Product Manager.
  • The Electric Semiquaver: All about writing with music notation software. The first line of his latest blog sums it up very well: “How music notation software can both assist, and completely destroy, musical texture.”
  • CompositionToday: Nice updates, news and resources about and for classical composers.
  • Musical Perceptions: “Perceptions about music, perceptions that affect music, perceptions colored by music, perceptions expressed by music”.
  • Echoes: They are disc manufacturers for independent artists but it’s a really nice blog of “insights for independent artists”.
  • New Music Strategies: Self explanatory.
  • Professional Orchestration: Nice feed on all topics related to orchestration.
  • Scoring Sessions: The feed from what I think you all know is one of my favourite websites.
  • Soundtrack.net: Feed of reviews and news of film soundtracks by Dan Goldwasser.
  • Sequenza21/: Great feed of news and reviews from this contemporary classical music community.
  • The Naxos Blog: Sounds a bit heavy – it’s not. Got great blogs and news articles.
  • Apple Creative Professionals: If you’re a mac lover you’ll have to have this one.
  • ryanyouens.com | blog: Am I allowed to put this on here?

While you’re at it, these are two well updated and completely essential news feeds:

Well, enjoy. If you have your own favourites, or any in particular that you can’t live without … let me know.

A few days in Wellington

Hey all, well I’m on my flight back to Auckland from Wellington, enjoying a wine with cheese platter – how posh is that, AND it’s with Air NZ. Impressive. I was down for this years NZSO / TODD Young Composer Readings. It was a great few days with the orchestra and of course seeing all the other young composers at this years event. Below is a picture taken during the readings.

NZSO : TODD 2008-28

Well I came down on Sunday afternoon, ready for the welcome dinner on Sunday evening at Nicolini’s Bistro on Courtenay Place. They have it there every year and if you’ve been there you’ll know why. Absolutely beautiful. YUMMY YUMMY YUMMY.

Monday was the first day of recordings. The morning was great, with two very good pieces in particular. I was first after lunch and was very happy with how it all went. Of course the first run through is always a little bit hairy, but once a few things were clarified and we worked on some passages, it started to sound pretty good. The final tracks laid for the recording were excellent and I can’t wait to get it. As well as from the composer mentor, Ross Harris, I had fantastic feedback from the players, saying how enjoyable and rewarding it was to play, and that it was very professionally produced (parts etc). This was fantastic as is what I am aiming for. How ridiculous to write a piece that the players and audience will not enjoy…

Scattered through the two days are some workshops with players in the orchestra, pretty much getting to know them and their instrument(s) a little better. These are always fun and is great to talk to NZ’s finest about their instrument.

The second day of recordings again had some very good pieces in. The day ended with some drinks, nibbles and “awards”.

So a successful few days – big thanks to the NZSO for looking after us all very well.