The Polkadots and the APO

Polkadots + APO

All aboard. Magic carpets are passing now!

Ah yes, the lines for every Polkadots song still resonate in my head. In fact throughout the concert both my wife and I knew every word. I guess we had heard it hundreds of times at home as I worked on the arrangements.

Last Saturday was the first of the Polkadots "Magic Carpet" shows. It really was something quite special. While I've written a lot of arrangements - never a whole show for a pro orchestra with singing, dancing and narration.

I went to the rehearsal the day before the show hit the stage and only had a few minor tweaks to make before relaxing and enjoying the musicians put it together. They hired super-pro drummer Ron Samson, so he held it all together nicely and provided a great energy.

REHEARSAL

Polkadots + APO

Polkadots + APOPolkadots + APO

Polkadots + APO Polkadots + APO

Polkadots + APO Polkadots + APO

Then came concert day - two back-to-back performances at the Auckland Town Hall on Saturday 29th March. It was great to see the hall packed and so many young people having a great, great time! In fact, the APO musicians on stage looked as though they enjoy themselves too.

CONCERT

Polkadots + APO Polkadots + APO

In a few weeks' time the show hits:

  • Bruce Mason Centre, Takapuna - 23 April, 10am and 11:30am
  • Vodafone Events Centre, Manukau - 24 April, 10am

Make sure you gather your little people, get along and enjoy!

Thanks to the Auckland Philharmonia, David Kay (conductor) and Robert Dill (director) for making this amazing show such a success. Stay tuned for similar shows...

The Polkadots get ready to meet the APO

PolkadotsOver the last few weeks I have been orchestrating and arranging the music of the Polkadots and writing some new material for their show, Magic Carpet Ride, with the Auckland Philharmonia in March. There are eight pieces in total for my contribution, each varies greatly in style from Caribbean, salsa, lullaby, Maori, ballad, storytelling, blues, and more - making it loads of fun to bring to life with the orchestra.

After transcribing each track into a piano/vocal reduction the fun began - unleashing the orchestra! Being a show for little people, the songs are often short, bold and simply structured so the challenge is to keep this while bringing in the massive presence of the orchestra, giving them some moments of their own, and giving the players material to get their teeth into.

magic_carpet_ride_558x220

I am in the closing days now, which is mainly just final touches to the orchestrations and part preparation to be done. Home straight!

I'm really looking forward to seeing the project come together and I hope to be at the rehearsals to see the magic carpet take off and the fine work of my friends Robert Dill (director) and David Kay (conductor).

MAGIC CARPET RIDE (event link here)

  • Saturday 29th March 2014
  • 10am and 11.30am
  • Auckland Town Hall
  • Adults/Senior: $15
  • Child/Student: $15

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:

Auckland Philharmonia, New Zealand Symphony, Auckland Symphony, Christchurch Symphony, Auckland Youth Orchestra, St Matthew's Chamber Orchestra, Manukau Concert Band, Victoria Kelly, Neil Finn, NZTrio and Horomona Horo, Tecwyn Evans, Michael Norris, Leonie Holmes, John Rowles, Ben Hoadley, Val Landi and Scott Hunt (USA), Bluebird Avenue, Fatcat & Fishface, Alexandros Pappas (Greece), Sideways Productions, Elizabeth Mandeno and David Kelly, the Polkadots, the KBB Music Festival and The Big Sing.

Next year is going to be a big year and absolutely business as usual so get in touch to get me involved with your projects - either as a music preparer, typesetter or editor, or as an arranger and orchestrator.

Over Christmas and New Year I'll be fishing and eating too much near here, chill-axing and probably still eating too much here, and then tramping and working off the Christmas food here. I'll be back working full-time on Monday 6th January, but feel free to get in touch over the break.

To leave you with some music, earlier this year I received the New Zealand Symphony recording of my original work, Rakaia. Auckland Symphony commissioned it in 2007, the NZSO workshopped it in 2008 and then this is their recording from 2010:

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/5080029" params="color=ff6600&auto_play=false&show_artwork=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

Enjoy, and have an absolutely wonderful Christmas!

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!

"Tiraki" steps out into the world

Hamish McKeich applauses A week ago today my new work for organ and orchestra, "Tiraki", was premiered by the Auckland Philharmonia.

It went fantastically well, I was very happy, as was my fantastic organist, Nick Forbes. The overall structure worked, we developed an exciting organ part and the orchestrations were exactly how I envisioned.

Tiraki organist Nick Forbes taking applause

Thanks to everyone who came to the concert or tuned in live on Radio NZ and provided us with such positive comments about the piece.

Congratulations also goes to the wonderful David Hamilton, Anthony Young, Robbie Ellis, Ben Hoadley and Chris Adams for their superb premieres.

Here is an interview from Radio New Zealand's Arts On Sunday programme on 26th May with Hamish McKeich, Kerry Stevens, Nick Forbes and myself talking about the collaboration and concert (recorded before the concert, broadcast after the concert).

[soundcloud url="http://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/94380327" params="" width=" 100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

Auckland Philharmonia to premiere "Tiraki"

I am super excited to have my work for organ and orchestra, "Tiraki", premiered next week by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra with the superb Nick Forbes on organ. APO Organ

Organ Spectacular - 8pm, Thursday 23rd May, Auckland Town Hall, BUY TICKETS HERE

CONCERT PROGRAMME

  • David Hamilton, Chimera, John Wells
  • Anthony Young, Theme & Variations for Organ & Orchestra, Rachael Griffiths-Hughes
  • Robbie Ellis, Relish in Immature Bombast, Timothy Noon (+ Jono Sawyer drumkit)
  • Ryan Youens, Tiraki, Nicholas Forbes
  • Ben Hoadley, Huia, Indra Hughes
  • Chris Adams, Mahuika, Nicholas Sutcliffe

Here is a collation of various details about my work:

PROGRAMME NOTE

'Tiraki' is a verb meaning 'to clear the sky of clouds'. In it I have explored the different layerings and textures created between the organ and orchestra, illustrating the nature and behaviour of the clouds. The work is structured in three sections and focuses entirely on the programmatic meaning of 'Tiraki'.

The first 'rather angry' section is very dense and fast moving with surprises along the way - representing a storm. The middle 'mysteriously calm' section is the calm after the storm - the music empties out but retains a slightly ominous feel to it. It finishes with a 'pleasantly refreshing' section where the music, and the clouds, gather life and a playful spirit once again.

It has been an absolute pleasure combining the two kings of music - an organ and a symphony orchestra - with an idea that had been simmering away for some time. Huge thanks goes to Nicholas Forbes who has been a superb collaborator and to the Auckland Philharmonia for this opportunity.

Q AND A WITH SOUNZ

1.  You’ve talked about using single-note melodies in the organ part – do you also use a range of organ stops to compare with various orchestral instruments? 2.  What particular ideas did Nicholas bring to the development of the piece? 3.  What do you want listeners to take away with them after hearing the piece?

Q AND A WITH THE APO

1.  things you discovered about the Town Hall organ After my first tour of the organ I was absolutely blown away with its complexity and beauty - which of course most people never get to see. While the possibilities are (almost!) endless, it became clear early that I was never going to be able to show off all of it and I needed to stick with the sound world of 'Tiraki' and the stops that supported that.

2.  what you utilised in particular of the organ in your piece There are huge heavily chordal climaxes in 'Tiraki' where the organ can easily overpower the orchestra, then there are light, playful, polyphonic passages where the organ is on par with the woodwinds. So I've utilised the massive capabilities of volume and texture and also the function that goes with that - where the orchestra and organ can really fight each other and develop huge tension, or can work together amazingly well towards a single goal.

3.  how your piece may have evolved as you learned more about the organ I really had no idea how an organ worked before this opportunity. That soon changed, but with loads of experience in orchestral writing, the initial orchestrations are what gave me my first insight into how the piece was going to evolve. I knew I didn't want the organ always in the forefront, but rather let it have moments and then let it sink into the texture and play other functions above that of a soloist. So I think what developed during the process for me was how quickly and easily you could change colours, the extent in which you could change them and how much those changes affected where the organ sat in the overall texture.

4.  what you like most about the organ part for your piece One of my favourite passages is in the middle of the work where the strings have sustained chords mixed with glissandi and the organ has high, clean and clear thematic lines, occasionally highlighted by the woodwinds, over a very low, very breathy and pulsating rumble - such contrasts which are only simultaneously possible on the organ.

5.  what you are looking forward to most about the performance of the piece in May Just to hear a really great concert of new organ music - the pieces are all so different so it's going to be a great night. Us composers have all heard the pieces in various stages during 2012, with different ideas being tried and options explored - so I'm just really looking forward to hearing the final versions, to see how we've all used the organ differently and how we've all tamed the beautiful beast that is the Auckland Town Hall Organ.

See you there!