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The Ballad of Settler McGee was commissioned by Concert FM in 1990, New Zealand's sesqui-centennial year, for closing concert of the World Youth Festival in Christchurch, September 2nd, 1990.
The work was originally written for the combined forces of the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra, the New Zealand Youth Choir, the National Youth Concert Band, the New Zealand National Youth Pipe Band, the New Zealand Youth Jazz Orchestra, the New Zealand Secondary Schools' Brass Band, and a competition-winning Maori ensemble and rock band, all conducted by John Hopkins.
Though Settler McGee is a fictitious character, his ballad is based on the life of an early pioneering figure. Of Celtic origin, this settler emigrated to New Zealand, through Hobart, in the early 1830s. He lived with and married into a Maori tribe, was present at the sighing of the Treaty of Waitangi, and fought in several early wars. He played a prominent part in negotiating the ensuing peace and in promoting understanding between the Maori and Pakeha people. With deliberate symbolism, our Settler McGee died on the day New Zealand gained Dominion status.
This arrangement and revision of The Ballad of Settler McGee for concert band was commissioned by the Christchurch Youth Symphonic Band, conductor Mark Hodgkinson, with funding provided by Creative New Zealand and completed in 1996. It was premiered by the Auckland Wind Orchestra, conducted by Peter Thomas, on 8 August 1998 in the Aotea Centre, Auckland, as the winning entry in the 1998 Sky City Community Trust Auckland Wind Orchestra Composer's award.
Commissioned by the Christchurch Youth Symphonic Band with funding from Creative New Zealand
Eight connected movements
08 Aug 1998: Performed by the Auckland Wind Orchestra and conducted by Peter Thomas at the Aotea Centre in Auckland as the winning entry in the 1998 Sky City Community Trust Auckland Wind Orchestra Composer's Award.
18 Oct 2009: North Winds, South Winds