Appalachian Octet wins best performance of a NZ work

Appalachian Octet I am so proud of the Appalachian Octet from Diocesan School for Girls who has just won the National Award for the Best Performance of a New Zealand Work at the 2014 NZCT Chamber Music Contest with my piece Kiwi in Appalachia.

The musicians are:

  • Gwyneth Nelmes, violin
  • Debbie King, viola
  • Breeanah Mcbain, flute
  • Christine Li, violin
  • Rachel Sun, clarinet
  • Rebecca Brimble, bassoon
  • Clarissa Wei, bass clarinet
  • Hannah Kang, piano

As I briefly talked about in this post, it's a standalone piece commissioned for this group but it's also to be used in conjunction with my arrangement of Copland's Appalachian Spring. My programme note says:

Kiwi in Appalachia is derived from the chamber version of Aaron Copland’s seminal work, Appalachain Spring. It has been re-scored and sections from the original have been arranged to create the first part of the work. The second part is a new work composed for this group as a response to Copland's work. It is inspired by and uses motifs and ideas from the original in a new way.

They have worked so hard and have done an incredible job, so a very well deserved award for them. They will now travel to Christchurch and perform it at the National Finals of the NZCT Chamber Music Contest on the 1st - 2nd August. Gosh I might just have to book a flight too!

Here's a video of the piece, recorded at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre on Sunday 8th of June at the Auckland regionals. 0'00" - 6'46" is my arrangement, 6'47" - 11'16" is my original work. You'll get better audio if you watch it in HD.

According to the Chamber Music NZ website, during June 2014...

...507 secondary school ensembles of between three and eight musicians including 19 octets and involving close to 2000 students, took part in the District Rounds of the 49th NZCT Chamber Music Contest.

You can see all of the award winners here.

Amazing stuff, what a great festival.

A premiere unwrapped

SMCOUnwrapped This afternoon the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra gave a superb premiere of my new work for orchestra, Unwrapped, in a packed St-Matthews-in-the-City here in Auckland.

Peter Thomas, conductor, did a sublime job bringing the work to life. Here's what the reviewer had to say:

We were privileged to hear the first performance of a brand new work for orchestra composed by the Auckland–based composer Ryan Youens. Titled “Unwrapped”, the programme notes indicated that the work was intended to explore the range of emotions that are experienced when unwrapping a gift - it did not require a vivid imagination to appreciate how much the orchestration conveyed this. This composition was tuneful and the orchestration skilfully managed and well balanced, so that every section of the orchestra had its moment of glory.

I wrote it in a short but intense space of time, it's a short piece (5mins) and I only had a short time hearing the orchestra play it in rehearsal - so it was such a thrill that it was so well received, was such a great interpretation and of course in such a stunning acoustic.

This year the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra have asked several composers to write works for their subscription series - others include Alex Taylor and Louise Webster.

SMCOUnwrapped1

The St Matthews audience are not exposed to a lot of contemporary music so it was important to me to strike a balance in style while retaining musical integrity and weighting. Challenge accepted and perhaps succeeded as shown by one lady who spoke to me after the concert. She said it was:

One of the most listenable pieces of contemporary music I have heard in a long time!

If you missed the concert I am not surprised. Unfortunately the orchestra has not yet included any of the composers or their new works on promotional material or social media posts advertising the concerts. Incredibly sad for me as a composer and of course as a lover and proponent of new music. Embrace new music and give it the respect it deserves!

If they were worried about scaring away their audience then one lady made me smile by saying:

I really wasn't looking forward to it but I thought it was absolutely fantastic!

Thank you to Peter Thomas and the players of the St Matthews Chamber Orchestra for a fantastic premiere.

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...

AUCKLAND SYMPHONY CHRISTMAS CONCERT

ASO Christmas

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.

This year they are:

  • "Don't Save It All For Christmas Day"
  • "Hark the Herald"
  • "Silent Night"
  • "The First Noel"
  • "Who Would Imagine A King?"

The orchestra is also performing my arrangement of Snoopy's Christmas in their Sunday concert in Milford.

Last night's dress rehearsal sounding mightily impressive so get there if you can. Click here to find all of the details, be early, it fills up fast.

AUCKLAND PHILHARMONIA APO4KIDS XMAS

321348-167428-7It was great to see my arrangements of "Little Drummer Boy", "Snoopy's Christmas" and my new "Frosty the Snowman" for solo bass trombone and orchestra got outings at the hugely popular APO4Kids Xmas concerts recently. They performed them at Massey High School on the 24th November and two concerts at the Auckland Town Hall on the 30th.

"Frosty" seemed a particular favourite, thanks to Tim Sutton on bass trombone for his superb efforts, and to my good friend, conductor David Kay.

ARRANGEMENTS TO SWEDEN AND THE UK

This year I shipped a number of Christmas arrangements off around the world. By shipped, of course, I mean whizzing PDF through cyberspace. They were to Stockholm in Sweden:

  • "Joy to the World"
  • "Drummer Boy"
  • "When You Wish Upon a Star" (I agree, not entirely Christmas)

And to the UK:

  • "All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth"
  • "Lullaby for Christmas Eve"
  • "When You Wish Upon A Star"
CHRISTMAS CAROLS FOR SOLO VIOLIN

Each year my violin students get a book of Christmas Carols to play leading up to Christmas. There are thirteen in total, they are easy, bowed and jolly good fun, so feel free to download the PDF below. If you want them for another instrument, let me know and I'm sure my arm could be twisted.

Download it here and have a very Merry Christmas!

Stretch your vocal chords with Auckland Symphony!

ASO Night of the Proms 2012 2 The Auckland Symphony Orchestra's famous Night of the Proms concerts are in June and once again you are invited to get involved with the annual outing of the Auckland Symphony Chorus. It is loads of fun, musical director Peter Thomas says:

We have a great programme planned with the choir singing a range of patriotic favourites as well as music from opera and the shows, along with superb soloists, as well as the obligatory flags, balloons, costumes, streamers, fun and loud noises! This promises to be yet another unforgettable performance event.

Previous choral experience is required but there are no auditions for this performance. Click the image below for more details or register here and join us for this experience.

aso-chorus-2013

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.

2012-05-15 APO Open Days 236

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!