Plenty of music for Music Month

LBCConcertBandCAMP Well it's the last day of NZ Music Month, so that's a good excuse to post about a few projects I've been working on lately. I've been a bit quiet online in recent months so here's a good chance to make up for that.

Picture This! is a new work I've written for the Long Bay College Concert Band. They won gold at the KBB Music Festival last year so a new work had to take shape! I spent last weekend with them at their rehearsal camp and had loads of fun. Look out for Picture This! at this year's festival.

My friends at Diocesan School for Girls have commissioned two new works for their groups:

I ask of you no poetry is for their award-winning elite choir, St Cecelia Singers, and is written for SSA choir, handbells and organ (with text by Madeleine Ballard). Kiwi in Appalachia is for their chamber ensemble consisting of flute, Bb clarinet, bass clarinet, bassoon, 2 violins, viola and piano (cello part also available). It's a standalone piece but for this group was written to be used in conjunction with my arrangement of Copland's Appalachian Spring. I'm hoping to get along to see some rehearsals soon and will post some performance dates when available.

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I have also just written Unwrapped for the St Matthew's Chamber Orchestra which was premiered last Sunday. I've written about it here, check it out.

Back in April was the 48Hour Film Festival and although we didn't get far this year with our film, On The Rocks, it was great to work with the guys from Sideways Productions once again. The music turned out nicely (finally, I got to use almost all strings!) and I later arranged it into a one movement work - listen here:

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Another film by these guys that I did the music for, Sounds Perfect, was screened at the Cannes Film Festival during May - I posted about it here, check it out.

ASO PromsIn conducting news I had a great weekend down at the Bay of Plenty Music School working with the concert band. I was so happy with the standard they reached - read about my weekend here. I'm also currently working with the Auckland Symphony Chorus - preparing them for the Auckland Symphony Orchestra's hugely popular "Night of the Proms" concerts at the end of June. Great to have "Song of the Lonely Mountain" as part of the programme - a song I did the preparation of for "The Hobbit" movie two years ago.

That's all for now. A few other projects on the go, but I'll save those for a future post!

Music school magic!

BOPMusicSchool I am just back from working with the concert band at another superb Bay of Plenty Music School. What a great weekend - there is something so great about gathering at the beginning of a weekend, meeting new people, working hard and presenting a wonderful concert together on Sunday before returning for another week of the real world.

I had a really fantastic group this year including a solid contingent from Auckland University which gave great depth to our woodwinds in particular. We ditched the easier pieces and launched into the challenging repertoire and with fine results - our set at the concert was so tight and I think the most technically advanced and polished performance since I've been conducting the group.

Our concert set was:

  • Stalter – Ignition
  • Shostakovich – Folk Dances
  • Berlin – Alexander’s Ragtime Band
  • Kahelin – Clown Act

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There was also some wonderful results in the orchestra (David Adlam) and choir (Peter Watts), as well as some impressive combined performances - which I was most happy to hand the baton on for this year and feature only in the percussion section!

The combined works were:

  • Mendelssohn - Hebrides Overture
  • Mozart - Requiem (excerpts)
  • Copland - Hoedown
  • Brahms - Symphony No.3

Congrats to the Taupo organising committee for a very fine job, thanks to all the players for your efforts and I hope to see you all again next year!

Bay of Plenty Music School hits Taupo

I'm super excited about the Bay of Plenty Music School this year as it hits the shores of Lake Taupo. This year will be the 45th year of its existence making it the largest surviving music school in New Zealand which is fantastic.

I am conducting the concert band once again and our repertoire includes:

  • Stalter - Ignition
  • Shostakovich - Folk Dances for Concert Band
  • Whitacre - Seal Lullaby
  • Williams - Theme from ET
  • Kahelin - Clown Act
  • Berlin - Alexander's Ragtime Band

Some really great pieces which I look forward to putting together with everyone.

It's going to be great to get back to Taupo - one of my favourite places. In 2010 I worked with six of the school and community groups to create Moana Ataahua for the ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival (read more) - a project made possible by the SOUNZ Community Commission. I've been back several times since giving workshops (read more).

My two fellow conductors are David Adlam (orchestra) and Peter Watts (choir) and I know they have some wonderful repertoire to share with their groups.

It's on the 25th-27th of April and will be held at Taupo-nui-a-Tia College and the Anglican Church of St Andrew. If you're interested in attending visit the music school website for all of the information and registration details.

See you there!

Bay of Plenty Music School 2013

the_wizard_of_ozIn just over a month's time the Bay of Plenty Music School will be about to kick off for another year. This is a fantastic weekend of music making and, as it was last year, will be held in beautiful Rotorua. This year the conductors are Peter Thomas (symphony and string orchestra), David Squire (choir) and myself (wind orchestra).

The wind orchestra pieces will include:

  • Arlen - The Wizard of Oz
  • Ewazen - Celtic Hymns and Dances
  • Copland - Down a Country Lane
  • Schönberg - Les Miserables (Highlights from)
  • Bernstein - Candide Overture (combined with the symphony orchestra)

Some of the other highlights will include:

  • Lilburn - 4 Canzonas (string orchestra)
  • Tchaikovsky - Romeo & Juliet Overture (symphony orchestra)
  • Verdi - Triumphal March from Aida (combined choir and orchestra)

It's being held from April 26th to 28th - clear your weekend, gather your mates and register here.

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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Following that were four posts on current projects - "Working on workshops" looked at some teaching workshops I was involved with, "An opportunity to make the floor rumble" talked about my upcoming new work for the Auckland Philharmonia and the Auckland Town Hall Organ. I conducted at the Bay Of Plenty Music School once again and my post, "Bay Of Plenty music school hit Rotorua!", pre-empted my visit there, and finally "Opening up an orchestra" reviewed the first two Auckland Philharmonia Open Days were I ran the "meet the composer" area.

In April I reviewed my time at the Bay Of Plenty Music School in "Making music in Rotorua" and posted photos in "Checking out the pipes" after an inspiring tour of the Auckland Town Hall Organ.

My Confession image May is music month and "A month of New Zealand music" checked out the events me or my music was involved with. It's also 48 Hour Film Festival time and our film this year was "My Confession…".

In June I talked about my involvement with Auckland Symphony's "Night Of The Proms" concerts in "Promenading in the colony" and I posted "Questions for a composer" after answering questions for a student's school assignment.

In July I posted my one word review of each piece from the "Nelson Composers Workshop 2012" where I was very happy to go this year as a mentor.

APO "Tiraki" workshopAugust is KBB Music Festival time and I also posted on the ongoing saga regarding the future of Sibelius in "What the heck is happening with Sibelius!". My piece, Tiraki, started to take shape after another workshop with the Auckland Philharmonia.

September was rather dormant on the blog front but in October I reviewed “What Lurks Among Saints” after being invited by a student I met earlier in the year.

The-Hobbit1In November I had the privilege of "Playing my role in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", and I posted about the experience.

December was busy with a number of projects. In "Little pieces of Christmas" I talked about a bunch of Christmas arrangements I did for the Auckland Philharmonia and Auckland Symphony orchestras. I also talked about a film I was involved with, called "Sounds Perfect" and its selection into the Tropfest final in “Sounds Perfect” to be in a final". I then prepared music for some very fine New Zealand singers and talked about it in "Preparing for some legends!".

christmas-musicFinally, no year is complete without a "Merry Christmas" post thanking you for all of your support during the year and the compliments of the season.

Another year ticked off the list, another year doing my absolute dream job - let's get ready for an even better 2013!

Making music in Rotorua

It is always fun gathering at the beginning of a weekend with a new group of people and by the end of it presenting a concert of great music. That was the case this weekend at another Bay of Plenty Music School. IMG_2653

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I had a wonderful group of players, we worked hard and had fun putting the music together.

At the informal concert on Saturday night we performed the crowd pleasers:

  • Prokofiev – Triumphal March from ‘Peter and the Wolf’
  • Barry Gray – Thunderbirds

On the Sunday concert we performed:

  • Khachaturian – Armenian Dances
  • Ryan Youens – Bubble
  • Rossini – William Tell Overture (Allegro Vivace)
  • Bernstein/Sondheim - West Side Story (combined with orchestra)
  • Trad. - A Te Tarakihi (combined with orchestra and choir)

It was a pleasure to work with fellow conductors Peter Watts and Peter Thomas - thanks for your support. Thanks to my brilliant wind orchestra players and to those who organised the very successful weekend.

BOP music school hits Rotorua!

conductorThe Bay of Plenty Music School is about to make some music once again! This year the school is happening between April 13th to 15th in Rotorua. It is an opportunity for choral, orchestral and band musicians to work on some fantastic repertoire in a relaxed environment.

I conducted there last year and it really is a wonderful weekend, meeting some great people, eating some great food and making some fantastic music together.

This year Peter Watts is conducting the choir, Peter Thomas the symphony and chamber orchestras and myself the wind orchestra (concert band/symphonic band...).

In the wind orchestra we will be working on:

  • Rossini - William Tell Overture
  • Prokofiev - Triumphal March from ‘Peter and the Wolf’
  • Ryan Youens - Bubble
  • Bernstein/Sondheim - West Side Story, 'selections'
  • Khachaturian - Armenian Dances
  • Barry Gray - Thunderbirds
  • Philip Norman - The Ballad of Settler McGee
  • Kamen - Robin Hood Prince of Thieves Suite

It should be another very enjoyable weekend finishing with a concert on Sunday afternoon. If you are interested in attending I would love to see you there. Enrollments need to be in by Monday 2nd April so visit the music school website and download the information and enrollment details.

2011 through the eyes of a blog

And just like that, another year is gone! Here is a look at my posts for the year. thinking web picThe blogging year started in March with my favourite book arriving, "Behind Bars", which I preordered in 2010. It is definitely the most used book on my shelf! I then talked about two approaching projects:

In April I introduced my new work, "blimp", and reviewed two projects - a song I helped a friend create and my work at the BOP music school:

May was a busy month, so in June I talked about what I had been up to - writing 31 microscores and the premiere of "blimp":

In July I posted the video I worked on with Sideways Productions:

In August and September I covered my involvement in the KBB Music Festival and some composition tutorials that I held in Kerikeri:

October was the kick off of the Rugby World Cup here in New Zealand, I talked about my involvement in the opening ceremony and also made a post about what exactly I do when "preparing music" and why you would need someone like me to do it:

December means Christmas and I posted some Christmas carols that I prepared for my students. I also composed a new "holiday" piece for my Christmas post:

Happy New Year everyone, bring on 2012!