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:

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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!

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.

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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!

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.

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.

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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!

Little pieces of Christmas

Christmas is looming and I have been busy doing new orchestral arrangements for two of the many Christmas concerts that will fill December. christmas-musicLast 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

Get festive, throw on some tinsel and come along and enjoy a wonderful evening.

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.