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!

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”

Three pieces performed by Brazil's Sphaera Ensemble

On July 9, the Sphaera Ensemble performed three of my pieces, The Attic, Reclusion and In Their Light, in a concert at the Sesi Theatre, Santos, São Paulo, Brazil. I conducted these three and other pieces with the ensemble while I was there in December/January. They first performed The Attic in 2008. Reclusion and In Their Light have been added to their repertoire this year. Here are some photos of the concert and a video of The Attic performance (taken by Laira Dalileia):

Sphaera Santos Brazil 6

Sphaera Santos Brazil 12

Sphaera Santos Brazil 5

Sphaera Santos Brazil 4

Sphaera Santos Brazil 1

A day with Sphaera

Recently in São Paulo, Brazil, I had a great time working with the very fine Sphaera Ensemble and writing with their conductor and arranger Alexey Kurkdjian. I got to know these guys a few years ago and since then have done several arrangements for them and in 2009 they had two of my pieces in their repertoire, giving several performances. Initial plans were made to have a concert together, but early on we decided to take a different path. We decided to get together for a day and rehearse my music, introduce some NZ classics and then make a recording of our work together. This I was very happy with. The Sphaera Ensemble consists of:

  • Bebel Ribeiro - Flute
  • Will Tomao - Clarinet
  • Alexey Kurkdjian - Violin I
  • Luiz Cadorin - Violin I
  • Mariana Ribeiro - Violin II
  • Wagner de Souza - Viola
  • Pablo de Moraes - Violoncello
  • Douglas de Freitas - Double Bass

The music we worked together on was:

  • Reclusion (2005, revised 2009)
  • In Their Light (2008)
  • The Attic (2005, revised 2009)
  • Pokarekare Ana (arr. Ryan Youens 2009) - classic, they loved it.
  • Te Haranui (arr. Ryan Youens 2009) - it was Christmas after all, went down a treat.

It was wonderful to meet the players and have a very productive and rewarding afternoon. They will perform my three pieces as part of their 2010 repertoire. During the afternoon I even managed to get a new piece requested by Will Tomao and his clarinet and double bass duo, Sopro do Contra.

The second project for the trip was a collaboration between Alexey Kurkdjian and myself. The piece is to be premiered at the major New Music Festival in Brazil during August/September 2010, and is for solo violin, flute, clarinet, two violins, viola, cello, contrabass, electric guitar and drums. Fun! Over the week I was there we worked on the piece most days and it shaped up extremely well. It's a wild fusion between Brazilian and New Zealand rhythms and harmonies. Stay tuned for more on this project.

Some photos from our day together (for the full album visit here):

20091220 Sphaera W-2

20091220 Sphaera W-124

20091220 Sphaera W-64

20091220 Sphaera W-80

20091220 Sphaera W-42

20091220 Sphaera WL-4

20091220 Sphaera L-2

20091220 Sphaera W-25

20091220 Sphaera W-56

20091220 Sphaera W-61

20091220 Sphaera W-58

20091220 Sphaera W-24

20091220 Sphaera W-77

20091220 Sphaera W-67

20091220 Sphaera W-126 copy

Sphaera Ensemble, conductor Ryan Youens, 20th December 2009, São Paulo, Brazil. Photos by Laira Dalileia and Wendy Youens.

A South American odyssey

On November 26 my wife and I depart for 45 days in Chile, Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay and Brazil. As well as a personal trip, I will be visiting composers and musicians along the way and it will end with a week in Brazil with the wonderful conductor, composer and arranger, Alexey Kurkdjian. We will be working on a very special project together, details on that soon.

January update

Hey everyone, well it's been AGES since my last post so this is a little update on what has been going on. I just noticed the last post I did actually, the one about the recording with four bass clarinets and four contrabass clarinets. Well a few weeks later the composer Austin emailed with some recordings which I said I'd love to hear in the blog. So thanks for that Austin.

Had a wonderful Christmas and New Year, if you missed our Christmas video, check it out here. Have been back working long days for two weeks now as have a lot of work to get through which is fantastic. Of course I have my wedding approaching fast so want to clear as much work as I can before then. To save waffling on too much, here is a list of what's been going on:


  • Have been typesetting two works for New Zealand composer Anthony Ritchie. Have completed his Flute Concerto and am working through a choral work.
  • I wrote "This Day", a new piano work. This is for the "entry of the bride" at my wedding. Have also been preparing some other backing tracks for use at the wedding.
  • Have been MIDI orchestrating some tracks for Alexandros Pappas in Greece.
  • Am writing a new choral work for the "Souls of the Righteous" for premiere next month I think.
  • Next week I'm conducting at the Opononi Summer school up north. Should be great fun, and I'll be sure to post a blog following that.
  • Have been discussing several exciting projects with Alexey Kurkdjian and his Sphaera Ensemble in Brazil. Stay tuned for info here.
  • Have been MIDI orchestrating a track for Vladimir Krasojevic also.


So it's a good start to the year so far and of course expecting it to only get busier from here. By the way I got the video from "In Their Light" premiere in Athens last November. I've added the video below:


Speaking of YouTube, I'm planning to get a bit more modern this year, so am starting my video blog. More details soon, but it will be all linked into this blog so can just see it all here.

Alright well that's all for now. Stay well and make some AMAZING music for the world!!