- Warwick Blair
In the late 1980s, having barely begun what is now a 20-year career, Composer Warwick Blair was already being described as “one of New Zealand’s most original musical thinkers” (NZ Herald) and the “enfant terrible of New Zealand Music” (NZ Listener). His first trip to Europe in 1987 was to perform at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival with legendary Greek polymath Iannis Xenakis using UPIC, an early electronic music system. In 1990 his Aotea Centre-opening orchestral performance ‘The Good Seeds Are So Small’, performed by the Auckland Philarmonia Orchestra and broadcast by Radio New Zealand, was proclaimed concert of the year by seminal music magazine Rip It Up. Having received an AGC Young Achievers Award in 1989, Blair moved to the Netherlands where he studied electronic music and classical composition with Louis Andriessen, and earned a NUFFIC scholarship from the Dutch Government. In 1991 Blair moved from Den Haag to London. Inspired by 4AD groups Dead Can Dance (featuring Lisa Gerrard) and This Mortal Coil, he began diversifying into the wider realms of pop music and formed the band ‘glory box’.
Blair has given concerts in the United Kingdom and Europe, including London’s prestigious South Bank Centre in 1994. His recording career includes material for Phonogram Records (glory box, 1995) as well as orchestral arrangements for ambient techno terrorist Scanner (1997) and the group Mandalay (V2 Records, 1998) – a role that saw him working alongside Madonna/Bjork producer Guy Sigsworth. Reviews have appeared in The Times, NME, Wired and GQ, with radio support coming from BBC Radio 1 and Kiss FM, to name a few. Blair has composed soundtracks and sound design for Gordon’s Gin, Mastercard, Sky TV and NZ Navy TVCs, as well as working on the film Stargate, the Nintendo game Cartoon Academy, and multimedia presentations for Signpost and Australian Fashion Week for Karen Walker.
Returning to New Zealand in the late 90s, Blair spent a few years lecturing at Auckland University, where originally he earned his Master’s degree in Music (MMus – 1st class,1987). Most importantly, Blair is now writing his own music again. With 15 years first-hand research into pop culture behind (and presumably still in front of) him, Blair felt compelled to write “Accordian”, rediscovering the territory that had captivated him in the late ‘80s – an amalgamation of contemporary classical music with elements of electronic pop culture. “Accordian” is an exploration of duality and symmetry, and demonstrates a fascination with structure, form & shape. It uses Blair’s new mosaic form, based on making cells visible or invisible depending on the shape imposed over them – the shape in this case being the metaphorical concept of an accordion. This highly anticipated fusion of pop culture and contemporary classical music was released on CD in July 2006. ‘Harp’, the accompanying single is now available for free download, along with a video by Amber de Boer, from www.amplifier.co.nz.Source: Warwick Blair, June 2007