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John Rimmer was born in Auckland in 1939 and studied with Ronald Tremain at the University of Auckland. In 1967 he was awarded a Canadian Commonwealth Scholarship and studied at the University of Toronto with John Weinzweig and Gustav Ciamaga. He returned to New Zealand in 1969 and taught at the North Shore Teachers College before being appointed in 1974 to the staff of the School of Music at the University of Auckland. In 1972 he was the Mozart Fellow (Composer-in-Residence) at the University of Otago.

John Rimmer’s compositions use a wide variety of musical forces; instrumental, orchestral and choral. About a quarter of his works employ electroacoustic resources and many works are published and recorded. He has received honourable mentions for his works in competitions at the prestigious electroacoustic music festival held in Bourges, France and also at the Newcomp competition in Massachusetts. In 1986 his computer generated work ‘Fleeting Images’ received the International Confederation of Electroacoustic Music prize at Bourges. Earlier, in 1983, his ‘De Aestibus Rerum’ (‘on the ebb and flow of things’) received first prize in the International Horn Competition held in the United States. In 1989 on the occasion of his fiftieth birthday his ‘Symphony: The Feeling of Sound’ was commissioned and performed by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and subsequently recorded in the orchestra’s CD series of New Zealand composers.

John Rimmer plays the horn and is the founder of the Karlheinz Company, an ensemble for new music at the University of Auckland. In 1971 he won the Philip Neill prize awarded by the University of Otago for his ‘Composition 2 for Wind Quintet and Electronic Sounds’ and again in 2003 for his string quartet ‘Bowed Insights.’ In 1977 he was awarded an APRA Silver Scroll for ‘The Ring of Fire.’ This work was one of the first commissions given by the Music Federation of New Zealand and was composed for the London Sinfonietta’s visit to New Zealand in 1976. In 1994 John Rimmer received the KBB citation of the Composers Association of New Zealand for services to New Zealand music. In 1995 he was awarded a personal professorial chair at the University of Auckland and in 1997 a Lilburn Trust award also for services to New Zealand music.

John Rimmer retired from his position at the University of Auckland in February 1999 in order to devote more time to composing. In 2002 and 2003 he was Composer in Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia, and in 2004 was Composer in Residence with the Dalewool Auckland Brass Band, and in 2005 and 2006 with the Manukau City Symphony. In recent years he has conducted brass bands, choirs and community orchestras as well as following a busy schedule of composing.

John Rimmer lives with his wife Helen at Tapu Bay, near Kaiteriteri, Nelson.

Source: John Rimmer, February 2017.

Selected Works

A dialogue of opposites for cello solo  
At the Appointed Time for orchestra  
Au concerto for bass clarinet and ensemble  
Beyond the saying electronic music  
Bowed Insights for string quartet  
Composition 2 for wind quintet and electronic sounds  
De Aestibus Rerum for chamber quintet  
December Nights for chamber orchestra  
Europa concerto for brass band and orchestra  
Fleeting Images electroacoustic work  


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