Part 3 of our series exploring past winners and nominees of the SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha.

Leonie Holmes: Aquae Sulis (2014 nominee)
Leonie writes: “The worship of the Celtic Goddess Sulis and the Roman Goddess Minerva gave rise to the cult of Sul-Minerva at the ancient springs situated in Southwest England. A visit to the site summons up a variety of underground imaginings – dark, steaming pools, slowly dripping water and faster running streams, ancient supplications, sacrifice, curses and prayers, fertility and healing.”

Chris Gendall: Incident Tableaux Part One (2017 nominee)
‘Incident Tableaux Part One’ is an arrangement of three sections from the chamber opera ‘Incident’. The opera is about a notorious tragedy in a Featherston prisoner of war camp during World War 2 in which 48 Japanese soldiers were killed by guards.

John Psathas: View From Olympus (2002 winner)
John writes: ” I The Furies – The Furies were avenging spirits of retributive justice whose task was to punish crimes outside the reach of human justice. Their names were Alecto, Megæra and Tisiphone. This movement contains an adapted transcription of a fragment of improvised playing by one of my favourite Greek violinists, Stathis Koukoularis (It appears as a solo for violin about 2 minutes into the movement).

II To Yelasto Paithi (The Smiling Child) – This is the closest I’ve come to expressing – in a way not possible with the spoken or written word – the feelings inspired by my precious children, Emanuel and Zoe. In this movement is also caught the summer I spent working on the concerto at my parents’ house just outside the village of Nea Michaniona – a house perched on a cliff which looks down on the Aegean and up to Mount Olympus.

III Dance of the Mænads – Draped in the skins of fawns, crowned with wreaths of ivy and carrying the thyrsos – a staff wound round with ivy leaves and topped with a pine cone – the Mænads roamed the mountains and woods, seeking to assimilate the potency of the beasts that dwelled there and celebrating their god Dionysos with song, music and dance. The human spirit demands Dionysiac ecstasy; to those who accept it, the experience offers spiritual power. For those who repress the natural force within themselves, or refuse it to others, it is transformed into destruction, both of the innocent and the guilty. When possessed by Dionysos, the Mænads became savage and brutal. They plunged into a frenzied dance, obtaining an intoxicating high and a mystical ecstasy that gave them unknown powers, making them the match of the bravest hero.”

Leonie Holmes: Aquae Sulis (2014 nominee)
Performed by the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, conducted by Peter Scholes

Chris Gendall: Incident Tableaux Part One (2017 nominee)
Performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Hamish McKeich

John Psathas: View From Olympus (2002 winner)
Performed by Perdro Carneiro (percussion), Michael Houstoun (piano), with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, conducted by Marc Taddei

Approximate running time | Te roa: 52 minutes