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Riki Pirihi
Te Hou Nui

Riki Pirihi's (Ngāti Wai/Patuharakeke/Ngāti Māhanga Hourua) Te Hou Nui, a SOUNZ community commission for over 100 performers, was recently premiered at this year's Cuba Dupa festival. SOUNZ caught up with Riki to find out more about the piece and its performance.

What was the inspiration behind Te Hou Nui? 

The inspiration for Te Hou Nui came from a few places: one being a memory of  performing with the Kaikorai Brass Band when I was a really young musician in  Ōtepoti, the other is an admiration for a particular album by South African musician,  Chris McGregor and the Brotherhood of Breath. I guess what I am trying to say is  that any kind of music we happen to compose, improvise, or think about is an  accumulation of many exposures to different musical experiences. 

What was it like to work with so many different musicians and groups? (air force band, community choir, percussion groups) 

I felt hugely honoured to have worked with such a diverse range of people in our community. The whole thing felt joyous to me, right from the first rehearsal.  

How did you find debuting the work at Ngā Toi O Te Aro Pā (located in the vicinity of Courtenay Place, Wellington)? 

When I think about that space I imagine a time before the buildings, roads, etc  existed and I tried imaging this when I was writing the piece. It was deeply special in  a way I can’t really articulate with words.  

Can you describe how you communicated throughout the performance with such a diverse group of musicians? 

We relied on a trustworthy means of technology called the score for this  performance. Initially I was thinking of having no score and semi-improvising the  whole piece but decided to just premeditate the music instead, with help from my  friend Ben Woods.

Are you planning any more collaborative projects like this? What's next for you? 

I will be working towards finishing my doctorate this year and mostly working with Te Ātea Nui – a taonga puoro orchestra based here in Poneke. This group has a special place in my heart and this will be my focus for now. Also at the moment I am working on a book of conducting gestures with Heidi Brickell, that will be a resource for composing in real-time.