Appalachian Octet wins best performance of a NZ work

Appalachian Octet I am so proud of the Appalachian Octet from Diocesan School for Girls who has just won the National Award for the Best Performance of a New Zealand Work at the 2014 NZCT Chamber Music Contest with my piece Kiwi in Appalachia.

The musicians are:

  • Gwyneth Nelmes, violin
  • Debbie King, viola
  • Breeanah Mcbain, flute
  • Christine Li, violin
  • Rachel Sun, clarinet
  • Rebecca Brimble, bassoon
  • Clarissa Wei, bass clarinet
  • Hannah Kang, piano

As I briefly talked about in this post, it's a standalone piece commissioned for this group but it's also to be used in conjunction with my arrangement of Copland's Appalachian Spring. My programme note says:

Kiwi in Appalachia is derived from the chamber version of Aaron Copland’s seminal work, Appalachain Spring. It has been re-scored and sections from the original have been arranged to create the first part of the work. The second part is a new work composed for this group as a response to Copland's work. It is inspired by and uses motifs and ideas from the original in a new way.

They have worked so hard and have done an incredible job, so a very well deserved award for them. They will now travel to Christchurch and perform it at the National Finals of the NZCT Chamber Music Contest on the 1st - 2nd August. Gosh I might just have to book a flight too!

Here's a video of the piece, recorded at the Raye Freedman Arts Centre on Sunday 8th of June at the Auckland regionals. 0'00" - 6'46" is my arrangement, 6'47" - 11'16" is my original work. You'll get better audio if you watch it in HD.

According to the Chamber Music NZ website, during June 2014...

...507 secondary school ensembles of between three and eight musicians including 19 octets and involving close to 2000 students, took part in the District Rounds of the 49th NZCT Chamber Music Contest.

You can see all of the award winners here.

Amazing stuff, what a great festival.

ANZVS Viola Composition Competition

20130310 ANZVS Composition Competition 543 This weekend I was one of three adjudicators for the first Australia and New Zealand Viola Society Composition Competition - that's a mouthful. There was a fantastic 24 entries that covered two categories, works for solo viola and works for two or more violas, and a young composer category.

The standard was wonderfully high and most of the compositions got a workshop at this weekend's Auckland Viola Convention which was fantastic.

The results were:


  • WINNER: Callum Blackmore (Auckland) after the storm will come a sleep
  • RUNNER-UP: Josiah Carr (Auckland) A Combination of Contrasts


  • WINNER: William Jeffery (Newcastle) Short and Suite


  • JOINT WINNER: Roman Benedict (London) Four
  • JOINT WINNER: Chris Artley (Auckland) Ah Waiheke

Thanks to my fellow viola-playing-adjudicators Michael Vidulich and Greg McGarity and to Neil Shepherd for the photos.

20130310 ANZVS Composition Competition 542

20130310 ANZVS Composition Competition 545

This is how you're supposed to look while listening to music.

20130310 ANZVS Composition Competition 546

20130310 ANZVS Composition Competition 544

NZSM Composers Competition 2006

Well last night was this years NZSM Composers Competition Concert. It was ... very interesting. I suppose I should start with my piece "No Ordinary Sun" - it was fantastic (of course I'd say that though). It was an extremely hard piece to put together for the performers, and it sounded great considering the amount of time that we had to put it together in. So they did extremely well. It was performed by far the best it ever has been, so I really couldn't have asked for more. I think the complexity of the piece really paid off in portraying its nature and creating quite a unique sound world which I was pleased about. Had tonnes of great comments and feedback from various people afterwards, especially about the colours and stylistic elements of the piece, as well as the effectiveness of the percussion writing, so overall it was a good night. Anyway perhaps I shouldn't say anything about the rest of the concert, except that Alexandra Hay's piece was absolutely fantastic, I loved it, and it was the very well deserved and clear winner.