Back in September I had the great pleasure of orchestrating five songs by Captain Festus McBoyle - the star of this weekend's four APO4Kids Christmas concerts.
On Wednesday it all came to life as the APO, conductor David Kay and all of the performers rehearsed and ran the show.
The Festus McBoyle tracks are:
A Pirate's Life
Hoist The Jolly Roger
Sonia The Snake
Walk The Plank
I also wrote two new arrangements of some classics to highlight some different instruments in the orchestra:
O Tannenbaum (for solo bassoon and strings)
Feliz Navidad (for solo tuba, singers and orchestra)
There are a few others on the programme too. It's sounding fantastic.
Captain Festus McBoyle and his pirate colleagues are stranded in Auckland just before Christmas. They have lots of songs to sing and stories to tell, but do they actually know what Christmas music sounds like? Let’s all dress up as pirates, polish our voices and give them a surprise! These interactive sing-along, dance-along, conduct-along concerts are for children age 2 – 5 and their families. And at the end, go for the famous walk through the orchestra as the musicians play and capture your costume on film with the pirate-themed photobooth provided by Voyager Maritime Museum.
Can life get much more fun than that? Not really, so gather your scallywags smartly, weigh anchor and set sail - I can guarantee there's a joke or two for the adults too.
Last week I had the pleasure of conducting the premiere of my new work, Rakiura, at the Auckland Town Hall and then at the Bruce Mason Centre. It was tremendously well received and I am thrilled.
I initially posted about this project here, when we were asking for help via Kickstarter to bring the project to life. Well, we got there, and in early October I got to work.
With the music following a movie of images I had a task getting my head into the story, so I printed out the book and spread it out on my floor and it all started to come together.
Here's the programme note:
“Rakiura" is a story of life on Stewart Island, Rakiura, a remote island at the southern end of New Zealand. The piece was commissioned to accompany a photographic album and exhibition by Keri Moyle and follows the album’s five distinct sections. Warm strings pay tribute to the beauty of the scenery, woodwinds evoke the magnificent birdlife, foreboding brass builds apprehension as humans arrive and make their mark on the land, and then as humans withdraw the land flourishes once again with its harsh yet tranquil beauty.
The guest conductor and my good friend, David Kay, kindly gave me the opportunity to conduct the work (photo above). It was wonderful to put it together with the musicians and they really did a great job performing it.
A big thank you to everyone who supported the project and to those who came to one of the concerts and gave such a positive response.
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.
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.
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...
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
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"
"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.
It 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"
"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.
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!
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!".
Finally, 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!
Christmas is looming and I have been busy doing new orchestral arrangements for two of the many Christmas concerts that will fill December.
Last Saturday the Auckland Philharmonia had their first APO 4 Kids Christmas concert at the Auckland Town Hall which was a great success. It was hosted by Kevin Keys, featured Tim Beveridge and was conducted by David Kay. They performed my arrangements of:
All I Want For Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth - Don Gardner
Joy To The World - George Frideric Handel
Lullaby for Christmas Eve - Pete King
Snoopy's Christmas - George David Weiss, Luigi Creatore and Hugo Peretti
The Little Drummer Boy - Henry Onorati, Katherine K. Davis and Harry Simeone
When You Wish Upon A Star - Ned Washington
This coming Friday (7th December) the Auckland Symphony give their impressive annual Christmas Celebration, again at the Auckland Town Hall, and featuring the mighty choir from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. They will be performing my arrangements of:
Angel's Carol - John Rutter
Who Would Imagine A King - Mervyn Warren & Hallerin Hilton Hill with words for introduction by Ivoga Green & Fredda Sorensen, arranged by Niu Syddall (orchestration only)
Snoopy's Christmas - George David Weiss, Luigi Creatore and Hugo Peretti
And just like that, another year is gone! Here is a look at my posts for the year.
The 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:
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:
During this year's New Zealand Music Month I wrote 31 musical microscores, and far out, what a month it was! I decided back in this post that I would do the project - each microscore would be from 30 to 60 seconds and I would do them in a maximum of one hour each day.
I was initially unsure how it would shape up musically - would they all be completely different, how would they relate to each other - but once underway it was clear that small sets of microscores was going to be the way to go.
Another thing I was unaware of was the difficulty of taking one hour out of an already extremely busy working day, especially for 31 in a row. I made it though, with a few catchup days here and there.
It was interesting to see the voice that came out through the compositions and how they relate to each other even when they are for very different instruments and based on a very different idea. Some I wrote for instruments I know well, others I wrote for instruments I have not worked with much.
Below are most of the microscores - have a listen. The rest are still on their way due to technical disasters.
Below is the full list of microscores:
FOR PIANO, a response to my piece for orchestra, “blimp”, which was premiered on May 1 at the Auckland Town Hall by the Auckland Symphony Orchestra.
May 1: “the pilot” Yes, it is about the pilot of the blimp.
May 2: “the view” Yes, it is about the view from the blimp.
May 3: “the flock” Yes, it is about the flock of birds that hit the blimp.