Composer in Residence
Meet the past and present composers in residence at the New Zealand School of Music.
The New Zealand School of Music annually hosts a Composer-in-Residence for 12 months from 1 July to 30 June the following year. The position is officially known as The Creative New Zealand/Jack C. Richards Composer-in-Residence at the New Zealand School of Music.
The appointment is generously funded by private donor Dr Jack C. Richards and Creative New Zealand, with NZSM acting as host organisation. The role has been created to foster New Zealand musical composition by providing the appointee with the opportunity to compose full-time. The appointee must be resident in Wellington for the full term of employment. While there is no obligation of formal teaching at NZSM, some contribution is expected to be made to NZSM’s cultural and academic life, in a manner appropriate to the current composer's personal strengths and preferences.
The Lilburn Residence Trust has agreed in principle to offer the former home of Douglas Lilburn at 22 Ascot Street, Thorndon to the Composer in Residence for the year.
In order to develop relationships between Wellington musicians and the composer-in-residence, applicants are encouraged to write for specific Wellington-based performers and ensembles and NZSM is happy to facilitate this process through our network of colleagues and professional contacts.
History of the Composer-in-Residence scheme
The Composer-in-Residence scheme at the New Zealand School of Music was established in 2004, and is one of only three annual composer residencies in New Zealand. It is generally considered the most prestigious and offers a substantial range of professional development opportunities for the successful composer. The residency is particularly notable for the number of expatriate New Zealand composers who are ‘lured back’ to New Zealand for the opportunity of working full-time on their professional development.
To date, the Composer-in-Residence scheme has resulted in over 50 new works, ranging from works for jazz ensemble, to operas, to works for full symphony orchestra, to works involving musical robots.
Below is a list of composers who have held the residency, and the work completed during their time.
2004–2005 James Gardner
James was the first Composer-in-Residence appointed, and rented a house out in Paekakariki. He worked closely with a number of postgraduate composers at the newly-formed New Zealand School of Music. James’s work during the period of his residency included:
- Local Economy (2004–2006) 19-division trumpet and percussion. Commissioned and premiered by duo Contour with funding from Creative New Zealand.
- ever not quite for piano and string quartet (dedicated to Jack Body for his 60th birthday)
- Umbra Mortis for 14 voices, premiered by Madeleine Pierard (soprano), Christopher Warwick (countertenor), Tudor Consort
- Beginning a new work for string quartet
2005–2006 Dame Gillian Whitehead
Gillian, normally resident in Dunedin, was the first composer to stay at the Lilburn Residence as part of the Composer-in-Residence scheme. She was the subject of a documentary about her year, entitled Gillian WhiteheadComposer in Residence.Gillian’s work during this period included:
- Hineteiwaiwa, for taonga puoro, voice and 10 instruments
- Karohirohi, for orchestra and harp for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Carolyn Mills
- a movement for the Davy Passion, a collaborative project with Wellington composers
- beginning Puhake ki te rangi for taonga puoro and string quartet
2006–2007 Lyell Cresswell
Lyell came from Edinburgh to be take up the position of Composer-in-Residence. Apart from being involved in the Composers' Association of New Zealand hosting of the Asia Pacific Festival and Conference, and SOUNZ’s hosting of the International Association of Music Information Centres' Conference, Lyell’s work during the period of his residency included:
- Alas! How Swift for trumpet and orchestra, premiered by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra
- Canterbury Rhymes for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, premiered by the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra
- Mezzotinto for solo piano, premiered by Stephen De Pledge
- Two Pages for solo viola, premiered by Gillian Ansell
- beginning The Perfect Woman, a short opera premiered by Scottish Opera
2007–2008 Ross Harris
Ross, based in Wellington, had previously lectured at the Victoria University School of Music, and so already knew the staff and students well. Ross’s work during the period of his residency included:
- Trombone Opera for trombone and ensemble, premiered by Stroma
- Symphony III for orchestra, premiered by Auckland Philharmonia
- Variation 25 for string quartet, premiered by the New Zealand String Quartet
- The Floating Bride for soprano and piano, premiered at the Adam Chamber Music Festival 2009
2008–2009 Helen Bowater
Helen returned to her home town of Wellington from Waiheke Island to take up the Composer-in-Residence position. Helen’s work during her residency included:
- Atsinganos for solo violin, published by Wai-te-ata Music Press
- Nekhbet for solo piano, premiered by Wojciech Wisniewski and published by Wai-te-ata Music Press
- sama-sama for flute, viola and harp
2009–2010 John Rae
John was the first jazz composer to hold the Composer-in-Residence position. Because of his background in jazz, John was able to collaborate with musicians at the New Zealand School of Music. John’s work during his residency included:
- a number of works for jazz ensembles, orchestra, solo piano, string quartet and string quartet with saxophone
- collaboration with Fariba Hachtroudi, the writer-in-residence at the Randell Cottage
2010–2011 Chris Gendall
Chris returned to Wellington from New York to take up the residency. Chris’s work during his residency included:
- Gravitas for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.
- Eigene Gestalt for SMP Ensemble.
- beginning Reckless Abandon for saxophone, violin and piano
2011–2012 Juliet Palmer
Juliet arrived from Toronto, Canada to take up residence with her husband James Rolfe, a leading Canadian composer, and their daughter Miriam. Juliet was the first composer to have a residency with Orchestra Wellington, through a partnership with the New Zealand School of Music. Juliet’s work during her residency included:
- Like an Old Tale, a chamber opera for chorus, ensemble, six vocal soloists and electroacoustics
- Nails as a Rose for gamelan orchestra
- revision of Shelter, a full-length opera
- beginning a large-scale a capella opera Sweat
- beginning Three Pop Songs 'Solid Gold' for mezzo and orchestra, premiered by Orchestra Wellington and Madeleine Pierard in late 2013
2012–2013 David Downes
David is based in Wellington, and has particular interests in computer animation, mechatronics and other technology-related projects. David’s work during his residency included:
- beginning work on a new string quartet
- beginning work on Confusion of Tongues, an electroacoustic work featuring samples of improvising string players
- Dog Eat Dog for Strike, as part of their stage show Between Zero and One
- Defense Mechanism, for mechatronic drum kit and Disklavier.
2013–2014 Jeroen Speak
Jeroen moved from London to Wellington together with partner Dorothy Ker, a visiting Research Fellow on leave from her position at the University of Sheffield. Jeroen’s work during his residency included:
- revision of Tarantelle for solo cello
- String Quartet 3
- Eratosthenes’ Sieve for ensemble, premiered by Stroma
- Particle Dust for percussion
- Shadow Aspect for solo piano
- Entropy for solo organ, premiered by Jeroen as part of an SMP Ensemble concert
2014–2015 David Long
David was the first Composer-in-Residence to be appointed whose strengths were primarily in scoring for film and dance. David’s work during the period of his residency included:
- beginning an 18-minute piece for chamber orchestra, textural guitar and robotics, in collaboration with NZSM lecturer Dr. Jim Murphy, premiered by Orchestra Wellington.
- completed an album, O Potassium, with experimental band The Labcoats
- worked towards a show with the choreographer Malia Johnston
- a live performance of music set to poems from The World’s Wife by Carol Ann Duffy, in collaboration with actors Fiona Samuel and Rachel House.
- started work on a feature documentary 25 April, which included the mentoring of three postgraduate students at the NZSM as part of the composition and postproduction process at Park Road Post.
2015–2016 John Elmsly
John's residency coincided with the 100th anniversary of Douglas Lilburn's birth. John was featured in TVNZ's programme Neighbourhood about Thorndon, its residents and history. John’s work during his residency included:
- Three for Four for the Aotea Flute Ensemble
- In October Light for mixed chamber ensemble, premiered by Stroma at a concert marking Lilburn's centenary
- collaborating with Reuben Chin to create One Mouth, Two Voices for soprano and alto saxophones
- rewriting Three for Four into a compact version called Variations on a Prelude: Three for Four to One
2016–2017 Alison Isadora
Alison moved from Amsterdam to Wellington to take up the residence. Her husband, Dutch composer Jan-Bas Bollen was able to visit her in the Lilburn Residence for 3 months. Alison's work during her residency included:
- Blessing, in memoriam Jack Body, for mixed choir, premiered by Baroque Voices.
- For John, for Australian cellist, John Addison.
- 54 Events and Their Offspring, for soprano and recorder, premiered by Rowena Simpson and Kamala Bain.
- collaboration with Jan-Bas Bollen on Critical State, a cross-media performance work for midi violin, bass guitar and realtime image and sound processing. Performed throughout the country.
- Wetonan Cycle, for Cirebon gamelan.
- Songs of Remembering #1, for soprano and violin, premiered by Rowena Simpson and Alison.
- beginning Alt, for string quartet, premiered by Stroma.
2017–2018 Rob Thorne
Rob Thorne is a Palmerston North musician of 25 years’ experience, who has spent the last 15 of those years researching, playing and performing taonga pūoro—traditional Māori instruments.
He has experience in bands and solo performance, predominantly within alternative rock, free noise, experimental, and improvisational sound art. His work since 2001 with traditional Māori musical instruments has seen him recently complete a Master of Arts in Social Anthropology and in 2014 he published the album Whaia te Maramatanga with Rattle Records, a solo album of original taonga pūoro compositions. Recently he collaborated with NZSM composition graduate Salina Fisher, resulting in Fisher’s “Tōrino – echoes on pūtōrino improvisations by Rob Thorne” for the New Zealand String Quartet.
In his time at NZSM, Rob Thorne will work on collaborative and solo works, all involving taonga pūoro.