NZSM staff contribute to new book on New Zealand music

Searches for Tradition: Essays on New Zealand Music, Past and Present is a collection of scholarly essays on New Zealand music, with contributions by Michael Norris, Samantha Owens, and Jenny Wollerman.

In Douglas Lilburn’s famous address to the 1946 Cambridge Summer School of Music, the composer described his ‘search for tradition’ in the music of New Zealand and spelled out his hopes that a distinctive art music might yet emerge here. Sixty years on, this collection of scholarly essays brings together various perspectives on what ‘tradition’ means in the context of the music of Aotearoa New Zealand.

The book, edited by NZSM Associate Professor Samantha Owens and Alexander Turnbull Library curator Michael Brown, presents case studies drawn from a broad spectrum of genres, cultures and historical periods. There are investigations of New Zealand’s colonial music to fresh consideration of Lilburn’s legacy, from corners of the jazz scene to the contemporary revitalization of taonga puoro. The focus on ‘tradition’ leads in some instances to critical issues of nationalism and biculturalism, while others uncover little-discussed aspects of local music history, performance practice or composition. It will be stimulating reading for all enthusiasts of New Zealand music’s past, present and future.

The book is published by Victoria University Press, and an interview with editors Samantha Owens and Michael Brown can be found here.