Your cart

Shipping and discount codes are added at checkout.


Helen Bowater


Born: 1952


Helen Bowater graduated BMus(Hons) in music history and ethnomusicology from Victoria University of Wellington in 1982. She later studied composition with Jack Body and electroacoustic music with Ross Harris. She has been active in various choirs and ensembles as a singer, pianist and violinist, also in the Victoria University Gamelan Padhang Moncar and in rock bands pHonk and the Extra Virgin Orchestra. Following residencies at the Nelson School of Music in 1992 and at Otago University as Mozart Fellow in 1993, she was appointed Composer-in-Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia in 1994.

In 1998 she attended June in Buffalo composition summer school and subsequently two Festivals of New Zealand music in Scotland where the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra (BBCSSO) played her gamelan-influenced New Year Fanfare and also River of Ocean. The Hebrides Ensemble performed Banshee, the latter two works commissioned by Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust for the occasion.

Many of Helen’s solo, ensemble and orchestral works have been performed in concert and on radio, and several published. Works include installation and collaboration with sculptor, Kazu Nakagawa and brother David Bowater; Urwachst, commissioned and performed by Auckland Philharmonia in 2003; commissioned works from Stroma and 175 East in 2005; performance and recording of New Year Fanfare by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra during the Asia Pacific Music Festival 2006; a string quartet This desperate edge of now performed in Holland 2008.

In 2008-2009 while she was Creative NZ/Jack C. Richards Composer in Residence at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, she wrote a variety of pieces for solo and ensemble including Nekhbet for solo piano written for pianist Wojciech Wisniewski (performed in Australia and New Zealand) and Sun Wu Kong “Monkey” for chinese sheng, Gamelan Padhang Moncar, singer, and the New Zealand String Quartet.

Helen participated in a contemporary composition festival and conference at ISI, Jogya, Indonesia in 2008 and a festival of NZ music in Beijing in 2010. She was awarded the University of Otago, Wallace Residency at the Pah Homestead Jan-April, 2016 where she created a work White Kingdom for ACE Brass and a solo trumpet piece for performer Huw Dann - Seruan (a call, invocation) in memoriam Jack Body.

Recent compositions include an ensemble piece beneath the crumpled stars, setting poems by Gregory O’Brien, for the Barefoot Musicians of Budapest, in the east, to the right… for female choir, harp and 3 megaphones commissioned by Baroque Voices of Wellington, the electroacoustic sound component of a sound sculpture Crossed Wires for headland Sculpture on the Gulf, 2015 (now installed at Connell’s Bay Sculpture Park, Waiheke Island), the sound component of Kazu Nakagawa's sculpture Carving Water Painting Voice, hSOTG 2017, a commission and performance gigue by pianist, Stephen dePledge for inclusion in his NZ Partita project at the NZ Arts Festival 2018, a setting of Psalm 15 for performance by Netherlands Chamber Choir, NZ Arts Festival 2020, a commissioned performance of Fekete Folyó “Black River” by NZ Chamber Soloists 2020, Ship of Theseus performed by Tosiya Suzuki 2020, and a performance and recording of a setting of Katherine Mansfield’s Out in the Garden by soprano Jenny Wollerman and pianist Jian Liu for NZ Arts Festival 2022.

Composed (74)

A Midsummer Night's Dream

incidental music for chamber ensemble, 9m

A Wild Sea for the Crossing

for female singer (mezzo-soprano or soprano) and piano, 10m

All the Moon Long

for soprano saxophone and piano, 3m 20s


for violin, 5m


for two violins, cello and piano, 11m 50s

beneath the crumpled stars

for mezzo-soprano, clarinet, guitar and cello, 12m

Black Rain

for soprano and cello, 5m

Blue Shift

for solo piano, 3m 30s

Bowater's Box

electroacoustic installation, 10m


for solo clarinet in B flat, 5m 11s

Carving Water Painting Voice

a sound installation, 22m


for orchestra, 24m

Cottleston Pie

for piano, 5m

Crossed Wires


Dancing to my Tune

for SATB choir with two violins, 10m

declination 0 (zero)

for mixed chamber sextet, 10m

Fekete Folyó

for piano trio, 9m

Flash Jack

for tape and two performers, 5m

Ftatsu no umi

for vocal octet


for solo piano, 3m 15s

Gwiffert's Jig

for organ, 6m

He does not come

for soprano and ensemble, 8m


for harp, 6m

Hoshi no hayashi ("forest of stars")

for solo soprano or solo alto voice, 5m 20s


for recorder quartet, recorder band, shakuhachi and hue puru hau

in the east, to the right...

for 4 sopranos, 2 altos, harp and 3 megaphones, 6m 30s

In the Queen's Gardens

for soprano and chamber ensemble, 9m

Ixion's Wheel

for clarinet and piano, 14m


for violin

Little Bit

for piano, 4m


for chamber ensemble, 14m


for orchestra, 12m

Makara - late winter

for mezzo-soprano and piano, 9m

Naja Naja Naja

for 2 female singers and instrumental septet, 10m


for piano

New Year Fanfare

for orchestra, 4m 30s

On Your Marks

for two pianos, 4m


for female voice and piano, 4m

Out in the Garden

for soprano and piano, 4m

Pepetuna “Ghost Moth”

for piano and taonga puoro, 5m 20s

Psalm 15 – Adonai mi yagur beoholekha

for unaccompanied SSAATTBB choir, 5m 15s

quiet birds in circled flight

for solo violin, 4m


for soprano and ensemble, 8m


for piano, 8m 30s

River of Ocean

for orchestra, 15m

sama sama

for flute, viola and harp, 9m


for solo trumpet, 5m 45s

Ship of Theseus

for tenor recorder, soprano (C) recorder and voice (one player), 7m 45s

Skeleton Souvenirs

for two sopranos and percussion, 12m

Songs of Mourning

for baritone and string quartet, 9m

Stay Awake Ananda

for 5 percussionists and 2 male speakers, 6m

Sun Wu Kong "Monkey"

central Javanese gamelan (including frog toys), string quartet, Chinese sheng, rebab player, singer(s) - male or female, 6m 30s


for soprano, clarinet, cello and piano


for cello, 8m

Tembang matjapat

for gamelan, string orchestra, marimba, tam-tam and 10 singers (gerongan), 11m


for flute/alto flute and piano, 10m

The Bodhi Tree

for string quartet, 9m

The Chafing of the Stump

for tape, soprano saxophone, cello (tempered electronically) and solo dancer, 25m

The Frivolous Cake

for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet, soprano saxophone, cello and percussion, 13m

the ghost of oedipus

for piano, 5m 45s

The Loud Water Rushes

for chamber sextet, 10m

The Non-Singing Seats

for violin, viola and narrator, 6m 10s

this desperate edge of now

for string quartet, 11m

Triple Axel

for solo piano, 1m 12s


for orchestra, 5m

Violin Concerto for 10 players

for chamber ensemble, 16m 15s

When I Fell...

for voice, flute and bassoon, 40s

White Kingdom

for brass trio

Wire Dogs

for piano, 4m 30s

Witch's Mine

electroacoustic, 9m

You Spotted Snakes

for voice and piano, 3m


for violin, 5m


for cello, 8m

Performances (2)

Helen Bowater: Carving Water Painting Voice (installation)

Sculpture, music, poetry (Riemke Ensing) and topology (Andrew Caldwell) creatively collide in Car...

NZ Festival of the Arts | Netherlands Chamber Choir: Programme 2

With 80 years of exploring the wondrous possibilities of choral music, the Netherlands Chamber Ch...