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Dorothy Ker


Born: 1965


Dorothy Ker’s music is performed and broadcast in both hemispheres and has been heard at international festivals in Auckland, Belfast, Darmstadt, Huddersfield, Perth, Taipei, Seoul, at the ISCM, and in London. She was born in Carterton, New Zealand and completed BMus and MMus degrees at Auckland University, where she studied with Douglas Mews and John Rimmer. In 1992 she emigrated to the UK, where she studied with Nicola Lefanu and Harrison Birtwistle, completing a PhD at York University in 1998. Her studies were followed by Research Fellowships at Reading University (2001–2004) and Sheffield University (2005-2010), where she is currently Senior Lecturer in Composition. In 2007 the CD diffracted terrains: Chamber Music of Dorothy Ker was recorded by the London-based ensemble Lontano. In July 2013, Ker began a year-long position in Wellington as a Research Teaching Associate at the New Zealand School of Music.

Recent projects include a gentle infinity commissioned by the London Symphony Orchestra in 2010 and Clepsydra composed in collaboration with Christopher Redgate for the new Redgate-Howarth oboe in 2011-12. In 2010 she was awarded a major research grant to make Amelia and the Mapmaker with sculptor Kate Allen, a mixed media theatre piece building on early research with mathematician Marcus du Sautoy. During her time in NZ she will be collaborating with ensembles and soloists including 175East and Stroma, and will be hearing two of her orchestral works recorded by the NZSO. She is currently writing a solo cello piece for Lucas Fels, to be performed at Darmstadt in 2014. She spent July 2013-June 2014 as Visiting Scholar at NZSM, and resident at the Lilburn house in Wellington. In 2015, Ker received the 2015 Composers Association of New Zealand Trust Fund Award for her contribution to music composition. In 2016 Dorothy’s String Taxonomy was premiered by NZTrio and Xia Jing.

'... there is a genuine composer here, one whose relevance to contemporary kunstwerk may yet make the big impact of which I feel, instinctively, she is capable.' Musical Opinion

Composed (39)


for twelve players, 10m


for clarinet in A, 13m

a gentle infinity

for orchestra, 6m

and the rain...

for double SATB choir, 10m

Arise, Shine!

for SSA or SAB choir and organ, 4m

Behind the Apple Cases at Mapua

for a cappella SSA choir and soprano soloist


for female voices (1-2 parts) and piano

Close-up of a Daisy

six pieces for SSAA a cappella choir, 8m

Dances After the Haiku

for soprano, viola, clarinet, cello and piano, 15m

Darkness and Light

for orchestra, 5m

diffracted terrains: duo i

for bass clarinet and double bass, 6m

diffracted terrains: duo ii

for violin, french horn and piano resonance, 6m

diffracted terrains: quintet

for alto/bass flute, clarinet in A/bass clarinet, violin, viola and cello, 14m

Dreams from Stone Landscapes

for soprano, flute/piccolo, oboe and clarinet, 12m


for solo flute


for solo flute and string orchestra, 5m

for the JR

for bassoon and piano

from States of Zero

for solo violin, 6m


for S(S)A choir and piano, 2m

le kaléidoscope d’obscurité

for clarinet, bass clarinet, cello and double bass, 9m

On the Bridge

for soprano solo


for violin, cello and piano, 15m

Perigean Tide

for string quartet


for ensemble

Rare Earth

for solo cello


for clarinet, bass clarinet, bass trombone, percussion, cello and double bass, 14m

six pieces locating the body

for B flat clarinet and bass clarinet, 15m


for violin and piano, 5m

String Taxonomy

for violin, cello, piano and guzheng

the history of rock

for solo piano

The Rock, Whatipu

for solo soprano, 4m

The Structure of Memory

for mixed chamber ensemble (ten performers), 10m

The Third Dream

for orchestra, 12m

The Truth of Fire

for vocal ensemble (12 voices) and unseen narrator, 17m

these children singing in stone a

for a cappella SATB choir (divisi), 5m

Water Mountain

for violin, B flat clarinet and cello, 12m

Winter Dusk

for SATB choir, 3m