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Red Contributor

Robbie Ellis


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Born: 1984


Robbie Ellis was born on Auckland’s sunny North Shore and studied Composition at the University of Auckland. From 2008 to 2012 he worked as a producer and presenter for Radio New Zealand Concert in Wellington, and in 2012 he held the University of Otago Mozart Fellowship in Dunedin.

His works have been commissioned and performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, 175 East, Saxcess, the Jade String Quartet, Estrella, Auckland Youth Orchestra, the SMP Ensemble, Chamber Vulgarus and more. Aside from successes in the NZSO/Todd Corporation Young Composers and Douglas Lilburn Trust Competitions, he’s also won Best Music in Wellington’s 2009 Two Day Plays competition; Best Original Song in the Wellington section of the 2011 48 Hours Film Competition; and Judges’ Choice in Auckland’s Short+Sweet Song 2013.

As a performing musician Robbie has played piano, bass guitar, double bass, and many more objects besides. He’s performed styles as diverse as ska, funk, metal, salsa, bluegrass and Baroque in orchestras, choirs, jazz groups, and bands; and taken his comedy songs to venues around the country including at Arts Festival Dunedin.

He is a specialist in music for improvised theatre and has worked with improv companies across New Zealand, Australia, the USA and the Netherlands. Robbie also has done scripted theatre as a sound designer, composer, actor and director, is involved in the comedy scene, and founded the spontaneous songwriting night Song Sale in Dunedin and Auckland.

Robbie now lives in Chicago, home of Kanye West, Barack Obama, and pizza that resembles quiche. He finds work as a music director for improv, comedy and sketch.


Works (41)


for solo piano, 12m 30s

Alla Marcia Brady

for a whole bunch of wind & brass, 5m

Annie & Joshua

for two actor-singers and piano

Bacon Madrigal

for SATB quartet or choir, 3m

Banda Chiflada

for saxophone quartet, 4m


a short orchestral feature for cor anglais, 1m

Cause I Couldn't Find a Tenor

for five-part male barbershop, 8m

Drying Music

microscore for piano solo, 30s

Fanfare 10

for orchestra, 5m

Fanfare of the Earth

for brass section, 5m

Fantasy for Bass Clarinet

one (1) solo piece that lasts two (2) ticks


for full orchestra, 5m 30s


microscore for violin and cello, 30s

Fragments of Noir

for string quartet

General Intransigence

for orchestra, 6m


for solo violin and shouty chorus, 3m


for solo viola and shouty chorus, 3m

Howler Monkey

for solo presenter, TTBB choir and hand drums, 4m


for saxophone quartet, 5m 30s

If Zack de la Rocha were a twelve-tone serialist composer

microscore for clarinet quartet, 30s

In meinem letzten Leiden

for orchestra, 10m

It Doesn't Go Up

microscore for clarinet quartet, 30s

Jane Austen Dance

for violin and piano, 1m 30s


for piano and tape, 5m 30s

Play Some Metallica

for musical performer(s) numbering between 1 and ∞ inclusive and some munter in the audience, 30s

Relish in Immature Bombast

for organ, drum kit & orchestra, 12m

Root Vegetable Opera

recitativo ed aria grave for baritone and piano, 5m 30s

Root Vegetable Opera (orchestra arrangement)

arrangement for baritone and 20-piece orchestra, 5m 30s

Saying Grace

for SATB voices

Seven Banana Songs

a song cycle for soprano and piano, 14m

Sheepdog Plainchant

for solo voice, 1m 30s

Sonatina for Alto Saxophone and Piano

for alto saxophone and piano, 9m

Sonatina for clarinet and piano

for B flat clarinet and piano, 17m

Sugar Crystal

for clarinet quintet, 11m

The Ancient Thracian God of 'Huh?'

for clarinet, bass clarinet, bass trombone, cello and double bass, 8m

The Lover's Knot

for orchestra and actor, 11m

The Piano Tuner's Performance Appraisal

for eight hands/two pianos/four players/forty fingers

Trolling the Tuba

for brass trio, 2m