Help to kickstart Rakiura

Rakiura photo 1 My exquisite wife Wendy and I walked the Rakiura Track on Stewart Island over New Year. It was absolutely amazing - the scenery and wildlife was breathtaking. A highlight was when a Stewart Island Brown Kiwi (Tokoeka) walked across the track in front of us in the middle of the afternoon - it was beyond amazing. I stored these memories away and didn't expect much would come of them...

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Soon after, in February, I got an email from Keri at Signs of Life Photography with an idea... a very cool idea. She spent three weeks as a photographer for the Department of Conservation on Stewart Island taking photos! The best of these have developed into a stunning album called Rakiura: Seeds in the Sand and to release it Keri is combining this beautiful photography with a Kiwi composer (that's me) and a real-life, full-size symphony orchestra. How? By commissioning a brand new piece to be performed by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra as part of their October 26th (Auckland Town Hall) and November 2nd (Bruce Mason Centre) concerts which are also the two launch events for the album. Peter Thomas is at the helm of the concerts and was pivotal in getting me involved with the project.

Check out the video here:

What I really love about this book is that it isn't just photography - there is a story that binds everything together. Keri says:

Tide in...

"It’s a story of the tenacity of life, of design and purpose, of the importance of perspective, and of pain and decay. But over and over, again and again, it’s a story of hope. We see the processes of repentance and repair in the conservation activities, and finally from the land itself, from the life that is inherent within it, we see renewal."

...tide out.

So, a great story and a great project. BUT, we need your help! There is a lot of money involved with producing this high-end product, commissioning a new piece and of course working with a symphony orchestra.

VISIT HERE to read the entire story and to see how you can help our Kickstarter campaign so that the final costs can be met so this fantastic project can come to life.

Thank you in advance, you are all wonderful!

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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.

SMCOUnwrapped1

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:

[soundcloud url="https://api.soundcloud.com/tracks/146068564" params="color=ff5500&auto_play=false&hide_related=false&show_artwork=true&show_comments=false&show_user=true&show_reposts=false" width="100%" height="166" iframe="true" /]

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!

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...

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.

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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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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!

Promenading in the colony

This weekend was the Auckland Symphony Orchestra's "Night of the Proms" concerts conducted by Peter Thomas and featuring the Auckland Symphony Chorus and range of soloists. ASO Night of the Proms 2012 2

This year I had the pleasure of preparing the Auckland Symphony Chorus for the concerts.

ASO Night of the Proms 2012 1

They also performed my orchestration of Brent Stewart's arrangement of the traditional A Te Tarakihi - now in its fourth outing! The concerts were a huge success, well done to all.

Working on workshops

It has been an enjoyable start to the year presenting some workshops around Auckland. "Sibelius in education" - professional development day

On Friday 24th February I had the first session at a professional development day for secondary music teachers. We looked at how to use Sibelius effectively in education and checked out all of the features that are going to help both them and students use the program to its potential. The next two sessions were by Philip Norman, looking at the life and music of Douglas Lilburn and a session on composition titled "Composition can't be taught... but techniques to help it on its way can".

"Sibelius In Education" seminar at Hotel Barrycourt 1 "Sibelius In Education" seminar at Hotel Barrycourt 2

"What's new in Sibelius 7 and education feature supercharge" - Faculty of Education

On Wednesday 15th March I worked with the new music teacher graduates at Auckland University's Faculty of Education. They had learnt Sibelius on version 6 so before they headed out in to the schools we looked at what was new and different in version 7 and also checked out a number of the fantastic education features that makes Sibelius a joy to use in the classroom.

The next composers... - secondary schools

I have also been working at two secondary schools with composition students. Developing their own compositions as well as workshops on string writing and developing an idea through a composition.

"Meet the composer!" - APO Open Day

On a related note, coming up this Sunday is the Auckland Philharmonia Open Day and you'll find me in the "meet the composer" room. Find out what composers do and how our ideas make it to the orchestra's music stands; try out the Sibelius notation software and add your ideas to our "Open Day" composition - see you there!

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!

"blimp" lands in Auckland

My new work for orchestra, "blimp", finally landed in Auckland on the 1st of May - premiered by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra at the Auckland Town Hall. It is a short work commissioned by the orchestra and their conductor Peter Thomas. It received a second performance on the 8th of May at the Bruce Mason Centre in Takapuna. This was followed by its inclusion in their "Proms" concerts on the 18th and 19th of June. A great first month and a half for a new work! 20110501 blimp premiere 12

"Blimp [noun] a small, non-rigid airship or dirigible, especially one used chiefly for observation."

The idea I tried to portray is that for me I think of blimps as being slightly odd, awkward to get off the ground and driven by men who are a little loopy; but, once in the air, they jauntily go about their purpose.

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I was extremely happy with the performance, the orchestra did a wonderful job and loved playing it. It was also great to get such positive feedback from the audience after all four concerts.

Watch the live performance from 8th May here:

Or listen to a good audio recording here:

20110501 blimp premiere 1

blimp, for orchestra

My new piece for orchestra, blimp, began rehearsals last night. It was commissioned for the Auckland Symphony Orchestra by their conductor, Peter Thomas. It will be premiered at the Auckland Town Hall and Bruce Mason Centre in their May "Up, Up and Away!" concerts. Inspiration was drawn from the concert theme and with a little help from some friends, blimps seemed an ideal title and topic.

Blimp [noun] a small, non-rigid airship or dirigible, especially one used chiefly for observation.

For me, I think of blimps as being slightly odd, awkward to get off the ground and driven by men who are a little loopy; but, once in the air, they jauntily go about their purpose. I love this idea, and the music hopefully portrays this in its short two minute duration.

Blimp

The concert also features Die Fledermaus Overture, Rachmaninov Piano Concerto No.2 featuring Hong Yul Yang, Jupiter from "The Planets", two great movie soundtracks - "Up" by Michael Giacchino and "E.T." by John Williams - and much more.

Concert 1: Auckland Town Hall, Sunday 1st May, 2:30pm, FREE.

Concert 2: Bruce Mason Centre (Takapuna), Sunday 8th May, 2:30pm, FREE (but ticketed).

It is of course in May, New Zealand Music Month, so you should be overdosing in musical activities - make this one of them. Look forward to seeing you there!

ASO Up, Up, and Away flyer