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Lyell Cresswell, Stephen de Pledge & the Landscape Preludes Project


Commentary or analysis Publication year: 2013


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The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra’s upcoming concert features Stephen De Pledge, performing Lyell Cresswell’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra.  SOUNZ takes this opportunity to focus on Lyell Cresswell’s music, and also Stephen De Pledge’s Landscape Prelude Project, where he commissioned 12 new solo piano works by New Zealand composers.

photo: Gareth Watkins          
 Lyell Cresswell, born in Wellington, New Zealand, studied at the Universities of Wellington, Toronto, Aberdeen and Utrecht.  Following a spell as a music administrator in Wales he returned to Scotland to hold composition fellowships at the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow.  He is now a freelance composer based in Edinburgh.   His music is widely performed and broadcast - in Australia, New Zealand and the Far East as well as in Europe.  In 2001 he received a Scottish Arts Council Award to create a work of music theatre, in collaboration with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, involving issues of exile and identity.  In 2002 he received an honorary D.Mus from Victoria University of Wellington, and was awarded the inaugural Elgar Bursary.  

Lyell’s Concerto for Piano and Orchestra (2010) was commissioned by Jack Richards for Stephen De Pledge, and premiered in 2011 with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra.  This work also received the prestigious SOUNZ Contemporary Award in 2011, and was arranged and performed by The Heavy Metal Ninjas at APRA’s Silver Scrolls where this award was presented!

Read more about Lyell and his concerto here >>

There are many recordings of Lyell’s works available to stream on SOUNZ Online.  Below is a selection of recordings and resources, including two works for piano recorded by Stephen De Pledge.

Concerto for violin and orchestra (1970)

Kenneth Young introduces this work, attached to the works' listing as a resource

Acquerello for solo piano (1998)

Available on Lyell’s Anake CD, named Recording of the Month by musicweb-international in 2002

Chiaroscuro for solo piano (2005)

Commissioned by Stephen De Pledge as part of the Landscape Preludes Project

 Stephen De Pledge is one of the most exciting and innovative musicians of his generation.  After studying at the University of Auckland, he undertook postgraduate studies at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, with Joan Havill.  His career was launched after winning the Gold Medal from the Guildhall, and the NFMS Young Concert Artists’ Award, and he has since maintained a diverse and wide-ranging performing schedule, as soloist, chamber musician and song accompanist.

Stephen’s repertoire is far-reaching, from the music of the 17th to the 21st centuries.  He has always maintained an interest in contemporary music, and has given the world premiere performances of many works.  In 2008 he gave the first performance of the Landscape Preludes, twelve new works by New Zealand composers, at the International Festival in Wellington.

Read more about Stephen here >>

Videos of all 12 Landscape Preludes are available to stream on SOUNZ Online here >>

These 12 works, inspired by New Zealand’s breath-taking landscapes, are composed by Lyell Cresswell, Gillian Whitehead, Victoria Kelly, Michael Norris, Ross Harris, Dylan Lardelli, John Psathas, Samuel Holloway, Jack Body, Eve de Castro-Robinson, Jenny McLeod and Gareth Farr.

Watch Stephen speak about his works and his Landscape Prelude Project:

Picture  The Landscape Preludes album was published in 2011, this album includes two analytical articles by Fiona McAlpine and Glenda Keam.

Rattle Records plan to release a CD of the Landscape Preludes later this year, performed by Henry Wong Doe.  Henry, New Zealand-born pianist and prize-winning Juilliard graduate, features on Gareth Farr’s latest CD Horizon, where he is joined by New York City colleagues in performing the ten works on this album:





This information package was created in March 2013 by Hayden Sinclair,
Collection Coordinator, using the SOUNZ collection.

Was this useful? Interesting? What other packages do you suggest? Other comments? Questions about the SOUNZ collection? Hayden would love your feedback. Please email him at

Author note

Compiled by Hayden Sinclair, Collection Coordinator for SOUNZ