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!

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!

Christmas carols for violin and viola

christmas-ornament-03Christmas is getting close and no doubt you are in the mood to play some Christmas music or your students are asking for some! Recently I collated and edited 17 Christmas carols for my students to play through this season. The carols, in order, are:

  • Angels we have heard on high
  • Joy to the world!
  • O little town of Bethlehem
  • We wish you a merry Christmas
  • It came upon the midnight clear
  • O come, O come Emmanuel
  • O come, all ye faithful
  • Jingle Bells
  • O Holy Night
  • Away in a manger
  • God rest you merry, gentlemen
  • Silent Night
  • While shepherds watched
  • Hark! the herald angels sing
  • Once in Royal David's City
  • We three kings
  • The First Nowell

There is a version for violin and one for viola and can be read without trouble by younger students as well as providing a lot of enjoyment for more advanced players. They are set clearly on each page along with dynamics and bowing where required.

You are welcome to download either copy (PDF document) and enjoy playing or passing on to a student or friend.

Enjoy and Merry Christmas.

May Microscores - a ginormous month of tiny things

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.

FOR VIOLIN - Alexey Kurkdjian, a set about memories from Brazil.

  • May 4: “Carrão” About a metro station in São Paulo where we spent a lot of time.
  • May 5: “Liberdade” About a district in São Paulo - the largest Japanese community outside of Japan.
  • May 6: “Rocinha” About a favella we visited in Rio de Janeiro.
  • May 7: “Pão de Açúcar” About the famous Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro.
  • May 8: “Terra Brasilis” About our hostel in Rio de Janeiro.

FOR PERCUSSION, a set about living in Auckland.

  • May 9: “a moment last week” for drum kit with bongos.
  • May 10: “a moment out west” for marimba.
  • May 11: “a moment of rain” for xylophone.
  • May 12: “a moment of colour” for xylophone.
  • May 13: “a moment of grit” for drum kit with bongos.
  • May 14: “a moment of quiet” for xylophone.
  • May 15: “a moment to share” for triangle and crotales.
  • May 16: “a moment imminent” for marimba and crotales.

FOR TROMBONE - Peter J. Russell, a set based on the fact that some frogs can be frozen solid, then thaw out and continue living.

  • May 17: “he freezes”
  • May 18: “he thaws”
  • May 19: “he lives”

FOR FRENCH HORN - David Kay, a set of three based on the three sleep stages referred to as non-rapid eye movement (NREM).

  • May 20: “NREM sleep: N1″ This is the light sleep stage where it is common to experience restlessness and hypnic jerks.
  • May 21: “NREM sleep: N2″ This is the medium sleep stage where the sleeper can be easily awakened.
  • May 22: “NREM sleep: N3″ This is the deep sleep stage where night terrors and sleepwalking can occur.

FOR CLARINET - Yvette Audain, the original name for butterflies was flutterby.

  • May 23: “flutterby I”
  • May 24: “flutterby II”
  • May 25: “flutterby III”
  • May 26: “flutterby IV”
  • May 27: “flutterby V”

FOR TRUMPET - Brendan Agnew, a set of three about a flea circus.

  • May 28: “flea circus: opening night”
  • May 29: “flea circus: race day”
  • May 30: “flea circus: the escape”

FOR PIANO, the development of my favourite idea from all microscores written in May. And I also happened to sit on a rather large swiss ball to write all 31 microscores.

  • May 31: “sitting on a ball”