- Christopher Prosser
- Born: 1956
- Fully Represented SOUNZ Composer
“It is the Livingness in Art that makes it art.” – Fela Sowande.
Chris Prosser is a violinist-composer who writes music primarily to perform and record himself, as solo artist and in collaboration. Much of the work exists in shorthand notation. Some scores have been written out for others to play.
Born in England 1956, came to New Zealand age 9, started learning the violin, head chorister at Southwell School, Hamilton. Moved to Christchurch, composed Sonatina for Violin, Flute, Cello which won the 1972 Bank of New South Wales Chamber Music Competition. ATCL Violin Teaching, BA History (Canterbury University, NZ) MA Music (Middlesex, London) followed.
Based in London during the 1990s; British Council award, recorded for VPRO Radio Netherlands, performed free improvisation with London Musicians Collective and at traditional music festivals around Britain with roots/rock band, The Eclectics. Earned a living busking the Underground, took violin teaching courses by Kato Havas and Sheila Nelson, played at the Glencolumcille Fiddle Festival in Ireland and taught Skills for Life at Hackney Community College.
In 2000 founded Kauri Music Ltd and released four CDs reviewed in the international music press (The Wire, Cadence NY, Folk Roots) and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Radio Hesse and Radio Populare Turino. Currently living in Wellington.
Chris Prosser describes two different approaches to composing: “1. Violin in hand, music on and for that instrument, often with compound and additive rhythms similar to the Indian idea of ‘tala’. The scordatura pieces fall into this category. With standard tuning this violin based approach can lead to Balkan sounding modality and rhythms. 2. Away from the violin I also hear melodies and dances. These are scored for instruments to play solo or with chord accompaniment and resemble Celtic modal tunes. The music for flute with rhythm violin and the children’s dances for violin and guitar are examples of this second approach.”
A number of works are still in progress or unfinished e.g. Found (1996) is a collection of 2000 tunes and sketches, originally to celebrate the millennium. These pieces and many in the Catalog for Scordatura Violin (1991) are yet to be realised. The focus now is on writing for violin in standard tuning and includes ‘Additive Rhythm Cycles for Violin’ (2006). The current collection ‘Snap Into It’ (2010) has skeleton structures for improvisation as well as fully composed pieces.
Collaborations: see ‘Selected Works’, also with jazz and “crossover” bands around New Zealand which have incorporated elements of different musical genres (“1769” Christchurch; “Noise and Smoke”, “The Zestniks”, “Bowing Jets” in Wellington; “In Transit” in Dunedin, Harold Anderson in Auckland). 2006: studied with the late blues violinist Leroy Jenkins in New York, arrangements of his solo compositions (with improvisation) to be recorded.
|Birds Reply to Bartok: 44 Violin Duos improvisatory violin duos|
|Dark Wind for violin and piano|
|Flight for scordatura violin with Indian tanpura|
|Neck and Lung (Week 2) for flute and violin|
|Pacific pieces for scordatura violin|
|Wee Happy and the Lounge Bears 16 original dance pieces for children on violin and guitar|
|Whanau a collaboration with Piahana Tahapehi and Tearoha Kahi for electric band, Maori choir and string quartet|