An email from Rhian Sheehan pondering an upcoming collaboration is the type of email you look forward to… knowing that you’re about to embark on an incredible musical journey and have the pleasure of exploring his masterpieces from within. In short, the guy is a bloody legend. The way he evokes emotion and explores texture and colour within music is something I greatly admire.
It was a year ago, September 2017, when we started working on the first track. Co-arranging and orchestrating the strings for what is now is latest album, ‘A Quiet Divide’. Over a few months we tweaked the arrangements, added layers, subtracted layers, lengthened, shortened, rewrote endings over and over until they hit the mark. Finally comes February 27th this year when we recorded in Wellington with some of NZ’s finest string players as part of Stroma FilmWorks.
Later Rhian recorded pianos in Auckland with his wife Raashi and the wonderful Justin Bird.
Depth of colour, textural clarity and control of phrasing were themes in these charts. Here’s two examples of how this was achieved:
This type of arranging/orchestration work is so rewarding. Working with such talented musicians and, with the strings, bringing out the magic that lies within their creations.
Fast forward to today, October 5th, and the album is released. And it’s pretty stunning. This is music for the soul. There’s been some good write ups on the album already. This from Drifting, Almost Falling I particularly enjoyed, which gives thoughtful insight on the inner musical elements:
Take a listen below and then buy a copy for yourself! Our string collaborations are tracks: 3. Lost Letters, 4. Soma Dreams, 5. Between Us and the Dying Starlight, 6. We Danced Under a Broken Sky, 10. Someplace and 12. April.
And if that wasn’t enough, Rhian is performing live shows around the country to celebrate. Dunedin was last week. But coming up there is:
12 October, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington - TICKETS
20-21 October, Nelson Theatre Royal (Nelson Arts Festival) - TICKETS
…and in Auckland you might just find a special guest in the viola section.
Synthony is done and dusted for another year after two massive sold out shows last weekend.
The lineup featured P Digsss (Shapeshifter), Ria Hall, Helen Corry, Omega Levine, sax legend Lewis McCallum, backing singers Cherie Mathieson and Iri Aumatangi, the 90-piece Auckland Symphony Orchestra conducted by Peter Thomas and all hosted on the night by General Lee.
For those who are late to this party, Synthony is one big music, dance, lighting and visual extravaganza in the Auckland Town Hall. Basically, 20 of the biggest dance hits orchestrated and produced on a massive scale. The two shows sold out in a matter of hours.
I’m hugely proud to be a part of the creative team, working closely with Erika Amoore (one of the event creators) to produce the orchestral realisations of these tracks. As an arranger it really is such a treat to be able to work on an entire show of such forces. The scale is huge. Here are some stats on what we produced: 236 pages of conductor’s score, 720 individual orchestra parts, all adding up to 2531 pages of printed music being played on the night.
Here are my favourite pics:
This year every department upped their game and knocked last year’s triumphs out of the park. Musically, the arrangements are bigger and better, the orchestra itself is bigger too… and we unleashed the Town Hall organ! There were 15 brand new tracks, and the 5 repeat tracks from last year were all refreshed.
The response was overwhelming. Orchestras aren’t used to quite that degree of ‘audience interaction’. Here was the view from up in the percussion section…
Reviews were great as well:
Immense thanks to Peter Thomas and the Auckland Symphony Orchestra who did an amazing job bringing this music together… with click track pumping in one ear… deafening audience in the other… with lights in all directions… while beads of sweat gather on the forehead… and yet they still smile and deliver yet another top level musical event for Auckland.
Finally, huge kudos to Erika Amoore and David Elmsly for their incredible vision and direction of this event. It really is quite something, and I’m already looking forward to the next one!
Robin S. - Show Me Love
Inner City - Good Life
The Chemical Brothers - Star Guitar
Robert Miles - Children
Laurent Garnier - Man With The Red Face
Roger Sanchez - Another Chance
Paul van Dyk - For An Angel
ATB - Till I Come
Eurythmics - Sweet Dreams
Moloko - Sing It Back
Eric Prydz - Pjanoo
Avicii - Levels
Faithless - Insomnia
The Chemical Brothers - Galvanize
Disclosure - Latch
Underworld - Born Slippy
Tiesto - Adagio For Strings
Delerium - Silence
Solitare - You Got The Love
Shapeshifter - Electric Dream