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Louise Webster



Louise Webster has a dual career in music and medicine, working as a child psychiatrist and paediatrician at Starship Children’s Hospital and the School of Medicine, and as a composer. She also plays piano chamber music with friends and colleagues in the Kotuku Quintet, and violin with St. Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra.

Louise was born in Auckland and grew up in Napier and Wellington. She studied medicine in Auckland, but took a year off in 1975 to study piano performance with Judith Clark at Victoria University before returning to the University of Auckland to complete her MBChB and study with Janetta McStay.

In 2012 Louise completed an MMus. in composition with first class honours, having studied part-time with Eve de Castro Robinson, John Elmsly, and Leonie Holmes at the University of Auckland. During her time at university she received a number of prizes including first place in the Douglas Lilburn Trust Composition Prize in 2005 and in 2008, the Douglas Mews Choral Composition Prize in 2011, and the Llewelyn Jones Prize in Music for Piano in 2011. Louise was the recipient of the 2012 CANZ Trust Fund Award. She is actively involved in the composing community and in 2013 and 2014 she was co-convenor of the CANZ Nelson Composer Workshop.

Louise has written works for a range of ensembles including solo instrument, chamber ensembles, voice, and orchestra. In 2012–2013 she received commissions from 175 East, The Committee, St. Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra and Westlake High School Chamber Orchestra, and her works have also been performed in recent years by the Karlheinz Company, Wellington Chamber Orchestra, Kotuku Quintet, and the ARCO string ensemble. Louise was one of the four composers selected to participate in the APO ‘Letters in Wartime’ project in 2013-2015, resulting in Where Moons Circle and Burn. Her orchestral work Learning to nudge the wind was recorded by the NZSO as part of the 2012 NZSO-SOUNZ-RNZC collaboration.

In 2014 Louise’s Cries of Kathmandu was premiered at the Adam Chamber Music Festival by the New Zealand String Quartet. In 2015 she was commissioned to write Number 7 for Stroma’s Nine Echoes project to celebrate the centenary of Douglas Lilburn’s birth. The St Matthew’s Chamber Orchestra with Helene Pohl premiered her Concerto for Violin & Orchestra in 2016, and the work was also selected for recording by the NZSO in the 2017 NZ Composer Sessions.

Louise’s compositions draw creative ideas from a variety of sources, including the sounds and images of the New Zealand landscape, poetry and words, and the issues she confronts in her day-to-day clinical work. “I enjoy the creative challenge of writing for specific instrumental combinations, performers, and audiences. Music is essentially about communication; as a composer I try to hold the performer and the audience in mind and integral to the creative process”.

In 2019 she received her Doctor of Music from the University of Auckland.

Composed (22)

An Infinite Shore

for clarinet and string quartet, 20m


for flute and piano, 7m 10s

Cries of Kathmandu

for vocal sextet and string quartet

Distant voices

for chamber orchestra, 4m

Falling brittle on the wing

for orchestra, 8m 30s

Grief of a Girl's Heart

for chamber ensemble and soprano

In The Night

for piano

Inhabiting Every Sounding Sea

for voice and piano, 4m 51s

Landscape Songs

for orchestra, 10m

Learning to nudge the wind

for orchestra, 10m 40s

Nameless by day

for piano, 16m

Number 7

for mixed sextet, 4m

Of the night

for mixed sextet, 18m

Proof Against Burning

for orchestra, 11m 30s


for oboe and bassoon, 7m 30s

Swim the sliding continents

for string orchestra, 5m

the dancing of summer

for string orchestra, 4m 30s

The shape of your words

for two violins, 8m 19s

this memory of earth

for string quartet, 15m

Where Moons Circle and Burn

for soprano and orchestra

Recordings (1)