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Meet Composer Jerome Kavanagh

In this series we present our new composers. We are proud to introduce Jerome Kavanagh.

Please tell us about yourself and what you do.
I am reviving the ancestor practice of using our Taonga Puoro traditional Māori musical instruments as healing tools. Through ORO ATUA Puoro Māori sound healing journey which permanently tours Aotearoa and the through marae, Universities, Yoga communities, festivals and corporations. We weave our healing music into all and every aspect of life. It’s for all people from all cultures and religions. ORO ATUA goes everywhere. One time, my aunties asked me if we could share ORO ATUA for some of our gang whānau who needed some awhi. The next day we were working with people in mental health, the following week we had news that we were part of winning a Grammy. ORO ATUA is reclaiming the practice of healing music vs the new model of music for entertainment.

We are going back to fly forward. I have performed in some of the greatest venues as a Taonga Puoro performer like Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, the Sydney Opera House, even recorded at Abbey Road Studios. The most exciting and real opportunities have come in the intention of utilising our Puoro like our ancestors did. Primarily for healing and ceremony so entertainment comes last for us now. I look back and think lots of those days of striving for awards and big venues and festivals was more about my own ego than progressing and reclaiming the art of Puoro with as much integrity as possible. I have always had a high focus on touring around kohanga, Ece and Kira with our Puoro music and this has kept me grounded in the real mahi. We always play to the whenua and then for the people. Taonga Puoro is my life, I’m not a musician I don’t call myself that. I am a Taonga Puoro practitioner, full time at home and around the globe, free of any need and want of government funding. This is how we can best walk the path of Rangatiratanga in our mahi and life.

Tell us a bit about some of your recent albums:
ORO ATUA Pūoro Māori Sound Healing journey 2017
This is our most recent album, it’s all Taonga Puoro from my whānau collection of Puoro “ Te Haa o Pohokura” we made this album with the intention of utilising song as a Rongoa Māori. 

Calling All Dawns - Chris Tin
On this two times Grammy award album 2011 (I co-wrote, performed and featured as a solo artist on the track Kia Hora te Marino)
We wove Taonga Puoro into the orchestral piece performed by the London Philharmonic at Abbey Road Studios. I used my Tokere and Poi Awhiowhio and was most excited to bring the voices of Puoro and our beautiful Reo Māori into the realms of a Grammy Award.

Got to live - Huia 2009
This was my first ever album with Māori London based producer Ben Mullon. This was an exciting time for us creating an album quite ahead of its time. We mixed the sound and vibe of Taonga Puoro with the streets of London and the multitude of cultures and people there. Our Jamaican brother Kevin Mark Trail (The Streets) featured and we had own studio in the north. We also created a beautiful music video there with a French film crew of Parkour innovators. A special time and massive mihi aroha to the Mullon family. Once again we did it all ourselves, with no funding and just a passion, vision, belief in the mahi - Mahi a te mahi.

What are you working on at the moment?
I’m about to go away on tour with the greatest band I’ve ever been a part of Small Island big Song - an indigenous music collective with culture women and men just like me. We have traditional musicians from Rapa Nui, Hawaii, Tahiti, Torres Strait Islands, Solomon Islands, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Taiwan and Madagascar. We are all connected through shared ancestors and I have felt and seen this as a real thing spending time with all these beautiful culture keepers. We tour sharing our ancestors' songs and stories through live performance and film. It’s a full Indigenous unity experience. We are raising the indigenous voice internationally. We will tour Australia and Europe. I’ve strapped on the ORO ATUA to continue my own tour through Austria, Germany, Denmark and London.

Where can people connect with you online?

Any last words?
Arohanui whanau whanui o te Ao 
Thank you


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