This short piece was originally written as a twenty-1st birthday present for clarinettist Esther Smaill. The melodic fragment heard at the outset soon skitters over its own unstable surface, mutates into fanfare-like repetitions, is spliced with momentary cantabile inserts, is interrupted by slow motion signposts, and blows itself out in a final burst of energy.
G.B. (Geof Burridge) a cousin of mine – the only member of my family who had any idea of what my music was about – who was my ‘whanau’ during the writing of Waituhi – he was headmaster of Tokoroa High and set up the first multicultural marae in a New Zealand school. He died suddenly in his early 40s in 1985. Oh! and the notes G and B do play a part in the piece. It was written for bassonist Michael Burns who was a student at VUW at the time.
lifeless air become sinewed for solo bassoon is part of a cycle of pieces for wind instruments composed for the Slovene wind quintet Slowind. It was premiered by bassoonist Paolo Calligaris at the 2010 Slowind Festival in Ljubljana in a concert of the entire cycle. Fragments of sound conceived as timbral cells gradually grow and expand over a background of the sound of the instrumentalist breathing through the instrument in various ways. The process of growth of timbral material is punctuated by a layer of more active gestures.
Three minute-long pieces (the number three is important in other ways also) chronicling our heroic egg’s plunge into hot water (jostling for space in the pot); self-awareness (despair at not growing to be a fully-fledged chicken) and ultimate sacrifice at the dinner-table.
Written during a month-long residency in November 2005 at the Visby International Centre for Composers, Gotland, Sweden, and dedicated to this institute and its director Ramon Anthin. First performed by the Continuum Ensemble, Toronto, with narrator James Rolfe in Toronto in October 2006.
Nga ha o nehera, which translates from the Maori language as ‘a breath from the past’, was commissioned by and written for Ben Hoadley, with financial assistance from the Becroft Trust. Ben Hoadley gave the piece its first performance at the International Double Reed Convention in Melbourne in 2004. Nga ha o nehera is a five-movement suite, written after a taonga puoro wananga at Ohinemutu on the shores of Lake Rotorua. The first movement is ‘Nga ha o nehera’, meaning a breath from the past, the second, ‘puna wera’, describes the continual welling up of hot water from a spring at the edge of the lake, and the third, ‘Mokoia’, suggests the soundscape of Mokoia Island, which, as well as a major historical site, is also a bird sanctuary. The fourth movement He purakau, recounts a folk-story – not a specific tale, but suggesting the elements of all strong stories, and the last movement, ‘Ohinemutu’, locates the piece in place, and suggests something of the story of Hinetekakara, the ancestress of the Te Arawa people, whose untimely death gave the place its name.
Three Windows in the Weather was written after a six-day visit to Dusky and Doubtful Sounds in Fiordland in October 2007. Ten artists (poets, visual artists, a composer and a film-maker) travelled on the Breaksea Girl to create work as a fund-raiser for the Caselberg Trust, who are restoring the Broad Bay house of Anna and John Caselberg for use for artist residencies.
Richard Henry was possibly New Zealand’s first conservationist, who rescued kakapo and other endangered birds, creating a sanctuary on Resolution Island, until, several years later, he saw a stoat swimming nearby, and realised the sanctuary was compromised. The second poem, Wet Jacket Arm, makes reference to the threatened biodiversity of the region, and the third refers to a gale experienced one night on the Breaksea Girl.
The official first performance, with Greg O’Brien reading his own poems, was in St Paul’s Cathedral in the Otago Festival of the Arts on October 8th, 2008. A ‘preview’ performance was given on September 26th by Ben Hoadley and Emma Sayers with Bill Manhire reading.