I survived 2012. This is how it was!

The New Year means it's time to have a look back over the past year and see, through my blog posts, what has taken shape and what I have to say for myself! January started with a very well deserved "Shout-out to VaultPress" after they marvellously got my website back up and running after a meltdown!

3100508059_5c99a0f9e1_zFebruary is the start of the school term and I posted about the preparation work I do for schools.

My typing fingers must have been tired at the end of March - it started with two popular posts, iOS apps for music professionals and Digital music stands vs iPads, following on from, again, two very popular posts I did in 2010.

2012-05-15 APO Open Days 236

Following that were four posts on current projects - "Working on workshops" looked at some teaching workshops I was involved with, "An opportunity to make the floor rumble" talked about my upcoming new work for the Auckland Philharmonia and the Auckland Town Hall Organ. I conducted at the Bay Of Plenty Music School once again and my post, "Bay Of Plenty music school hit Rotorua!", pre-empted my visit there, and finally "Opening up an orchestra" reviewed the first two Auckland Philharmonia Open Days were I ran the "meet the composer" area.

In April I reviewed my time at the Bay Of Plenty Music School in "Making music in Rotorua" and posted photos in "Checking out the pipes" after an inspiring tour of the Auckland Town Hall Organ.

My Confession image May is music month and "A month of New Zealand music" checked out the events me or my music was involved with. It's also 48 Hour Film Festival time and our film this year was "My Confession…".

In June I talked about my involvement with Auckland Symphony's "Night Of The Proms" concerts in "Promenading in the colony" and I posted "Questions for a composer" after answering questions for a student's school assignment.

In July I posted my one word review of each piece from the "Nelson Composers Workshop 2012" where I was very happy to go this year as a mentor.

APO "Tiraki" workshopAugust is KBB Music Festival time and I also posted on the ongoing saga regarding the future of Sibelius in "What the heck is happening with Sibelius!". My piece, Tiraki, started to take shape after another workshop with the Auckland Philharmonia.

September was rather dormant on the blog front but in October I reviewed “What Lurks Among Saints” after being invited by a student I met earlier in the year.

The-Hobbit1In November I had the privilege of "Playing my role in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey", and I posted about the experience.

December was busy with a number of projects. In "Little pieces of Christmas" I talked about a bunch of Christmas arrangements I did for the Auckland Philharmonia and Auckland Symphony orchestras. I also talked about a film I was involved with, called "Sounds Perfect" and its selection into the Tropfest final in “Sounds Perfect” to be in a final". I then prepared music for some very fine New Zealand singers and talked about it in "Preparing for some legends!".

christmas-musicFinally, no year is complete without a "Merry Christmas" post thanking you for all of your support during the year and the compliments of the season.

Another year ticked off the list, another year doing my absolute dream job - let's get ready for an even better 2013!

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!

KBB Music Festival stretching its legs

This year the KBB Music Festival stretched its legs and was held at the Holy Trinity Cathedral and St Mary's Church in Parnell. It was one again an absolute hit, even considering it had to move for two days due to the state funeral for Sir Paul Reeves! I was on the committee this year, so it was great to spend some more time at the festival and help to organise it beforehand. Being the new venue there were a lot of extra things to think about and teething issues but the many thousands of students who came through during the week had a wonderful time and some outstanding music was made.

Part of my role on the committee was to create and maintain the festival website - of course something I know well and enjoy. Check it out!

I had five groups in the festival this year (sorry, no photos this year!), the Diocesan School Symphony and Chamber Orchestras, the Carmel College Orchestra and Chamber Orchestras and the Kristin School Symphonia. They all did very well and I look forward to another good year at the festival next year.

KBB Music Festival 2010, thumbs up

As of last night, the 2010 KBB Music Festival is officially over. Today I'm sure many musical directors are joining me in breathing a well-earned sigh of relief. If you're wondering what I am talking about, here's what the festival website has to say:

"For the past 25 years, the KBB Music Festival, in association with The Edge® Public Programmes, has been showcasing the best in secondary school orchestras, concert bands and jazz bands in Auckland. From the small numbers in the original Auckland Secondary Schools Band and Orchestra Festival, the KBB Music Festival has now grown to see over 100 groups competing from more than 40 schools across the greater Auckland region."

It was a fantastic few days of music. I saw two full days out of the four days of the festival. Always interesting to see what others are doing, taking a mental note of ideas for next years' possibilities and also observing how others lead their groups.

I had three groups competing in the festival this year - the Carmel Chamber Orchestra, Carmel Orchestra and the Kristin Symphonia. All did reasonably well and each picked up a Bronze award at last night's (three hour epic) gala concert.

On the last day I had the pleasure of working with four groups at the Fringe Festival. These are groups under development or not quite meeting the full festival requirements. The whole point is to provide encouragement and constructive feedback to get them primed, pumped and ready for year ahead.

Big thanks to administrator and chairperson David Squire for another seamlessly run festival and for his eighteen years on the committee. This was his last year of involvement with the festival. Also, of course, much thanks to these two:

Wild Daisies premiere

Last year Kristin School commissioned a piece from me for their amazing award-winning choir, Euphony, to include in their 2010 repertoire. They premiered it at the Auckland Town Hall on Wednesday 16th June 2010. See the video below:

It uses the text from Bub Bridger's poem, Wild Daisies.

The choir was once again successful in getting through to The Big Sing Finale, along with many other choirs from around New Zealand. You can see the full list of these choirs at The Big Sing website.

Wild Daisies is notated for SSA choir and if anyone is interested in buying a copy please let me know.

Conducting - 90% perspiration, 10% exhilaration

Schools have just started again and that means my orchestras have also. Sensational! I have been reminded, however, of the huge amount of preparation required to get them underway. Repertoire, auditions, photocopying, sweet-talking, begging, music sorting, rehearsal setup and pack down, chasing up students, score preparation, rehearsal camps - by the time I hit the podium ready to do some real work I'm more ready for a nap than a rehearsal. Still though, every time the tuning A sounds and a hush filters across the ensemble, I, amongst the exhilaration, seem to remember exactly why we are there, why we love it and why all of this perspiration is all of a sudden completely and utterly worth it.

Pen to paper

... or rather, finger to keyboard! Here is an update on three pieces I am currently writing. Wild Daisies

This is a piece for the award winning choir, Euphony, from Kristin School. After a lot of hunting I found the wonderful poem "Wild Daisies" by NZ poet Bub Bridger. It was hard to find something suitable for school-aged students, something on a happier rather than sad note, and something that would allow lots of musical additions ... perhaps I'm just not well acustomed to hunting down texts. Anyway this is going to be a fantastic piece for unaccompanied choir.


There is a flute player I want to write for, a viola player has been begging for a piece, and I have been wanting to write a piece for tuba for a long time. So, this is it. A suite of solo pieces, one for each of these instruments. I'm trying to get some of the movements done before the trip to Brazil, as then I can workshop the pieces with the players there.

I was thinking how to tie these three pieces together and had a great idea about clouds as they are categorised into high, mid and low clouds. So the three pieces are based on:

  1. Cirrus - flute (high)
  2. Altocumulus - viola (middle)
  3. Cumulus - tuba (low)

The title, Tiraki, means to clear the sky or lift away the clouds.


Don't worry, that's not the actual title - I'm still deciding. This piece for wind orchestra and choir is well underway and will open the 2010 ERUPT Lake Taupo Festival. This project is possible thanks to the very generous funding by SOUNZ (The Centre for NZ Music) and their SOUNZ Community Commission.

We put a call out for texts to use and so they are flowing in. Have started drafting some ideas and have got a good idea of how it's going to turn out. It's going to be a 15 minute, or thereabouts, piece but it is going to be able to be performed as a 5-6 minute piece later in it's lifetime. This, along with the fact that it is suitable for younger players means hopefully it will have a healthy future. As soon as I get back from South America I will be full on writing this piece.

Sounds of Celebration

I conducted the Kristin Symphonia today in their Sounds of Celebration combined music concert. Despite slightly diminished numbers, they performed superbly. On the programme was:

  • Farandole from L'Arlesienne Suite No.2 by Bizet
  • Awakino Pastorale by M.C.W. Bell
  • The Great Gate of Kiev from Pictures at a Exhibition by Mussorgsky
  • Scherzo from Symphony No.9 by Beethoven

Sounds of Celebration 1

Sounds of Celebration 2

Sounds of Celebration 3

KBB Festival 2009

It was another great year at the Auckland KBB Music Festival. I had three groups in, the Kristin Symphonia, the Carmel College Chamber Orchestra and the Carmel College Senior Orchestra. Both of my full orchestras received a bronze award. Well done to David Squire and the organisers for another fantastic event. Kristin Symphonia at KBB 2009

Kristin KBB 3

Kristin KBB 2

Kristin KBB 1

Carmel College Senior Orchestra at KBB 2009




KBB 2008

Well the craziest week of the year for Auckland school orchestras, chamber orchestras, jazz and concert bands, is that of the annual KBB festival. Gosh, it is busy. Last year I had the Kristin senior orchestra in, and it was my first year ... so everything is still a little bit of a blur. I remember being just so horribly nervous. BUT we got a bronze award, something the orchestra had never received before. This year I had three orchestras. WHAT FUN!! The first was the Carmel College Orchestra:

Carmel at KBB 28.08.2008

These guys were awesome. They were playing some tricky pieces and it all went fantastically well. My second biggest disaster of the day happened when I gave a very distinctive cue to the first violins at a place where I know they don't count and it's not clear what's going on musically - they just wait for the cue, a whole two bars early. But thank goodness they entered correctly.

Next up was the Kristin Symphonia.

Kristin at KBB 28.08.2008

 I had such a blast conducting these guys. With one down, I just relaxed and I could tell the players were also just having a great time on stage. Their programme also went wonderfully well.

Afterwards I was whisked away to the Carmel Chamber Orchestra who was warming up. While I was putting my favourite baton away ... it snapped!! DISASTER!! It was my favourite baton, which I only use in concerts, got it from America, and has my name engraved. I couldn't believe it. I sulked for a while, but since then however, I have had the superglue out, and it is like new ... well maybe just a little bit wonky.

Well finally was the Carmel Chamber Orchestra. Was number three for me, it was 4:40pm and they had been there since 9:30am. But we got up there and gave it everything. Luckily we had some light numbers ... a piece by Silvestri and one by the Beatles. They did very well and were well received by the audience, but maybe, like us, they just wanted to go home.

Well I was happy to get out of the venue at the end of the day. Being sandwiched in by hundreds of school kids all day is not to be desired. But was happy also that all my groups had done wonderfully well. Now I look forward to the results ...

Last night's Kristin May Magic concert

Hey everyone, Well last night was Kristin School's May Magic concert. It is their mid-year music extravaganza and last night it went fantastically well. It had everything from the year one and two choir, through to the senior award winning groups.

One of my orchestra's, the Kristin Symphonia performed. It was our first big performance for the year. A few hairy moments, but went beautiful. I was so proud of them. Panning out to be a good year from them I think.

Photo link coming soon.