The Mozart Fellowship - Previous Recipients

Photo of Jeremy Mayall

Jeremy Mayall

Mozart Fellow 2014 and 2015

Jeremy will continue to develop some of the collaborative cross-disciplinary work he started in 2014; he will focus on some new recording projects, and perhaps compose a new orchestral piece.

About Jeremy's 2014 Mozart Fellowship.

Find up-to-date news about Jeremy and his music on his website.

November/December 2015

Thoughts on a fellowship:

My time as the Mozart Fellow has been a great one. It is a real honour and privilege to be able to come to work each day and have the freedom to pursue any creative road I choose to travel. The opportunity to just engage wholeheartedly in creative research, and the pleasure of being able to collaborate with a huge range of talented individuals.

This fellowship is a time in my life I will always remember. It has been a period of great productivity for me. During the last 653 days I have worked on: 14 albums of new music (many of which have been released); 10 short films; two children's books; numerous chamber works (including Frosted Air Suite, Fourteen Moments for Three, Signature Asymmetry, and Through the pulsating debris); interdisciplinary, multimedia performances like Flutter and Late Song; collaborations with poets, authors, musicians, sculptors, dancers, theatre practitioners, filmmakers, visual artists, museums, chefs, perfumers, and neuroscientists (for Musica in Cerebro).

The Otago University Arts Fellowships are a brilliant opportunity for creativity. George Bernard Shaw once wrote, "I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work the more I live. I rejoice in life for its own sake. Life is no 'brief candle' to me. It is sort of a splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it to future generations". To me, this is reflective of my own compulsion to create. I create something each day in an effort to build a remarkable body of work. Ideally, this doesn't mean overworking oneself. It is important to enjoy life. But, try and do something every day that matters.

In a recent conversation with an astrophysicist, we were discussing the nature of creativity, and how central this indescribable force is to most things we do... The big difference is perspective. A university should be teaching people how to research, how to think critically, and how to be creative. This applies as much to the sciences as it does in the arts. It is through creativity that innovation occurs. In music, the creativity is so often at the forefront of the experience – often ignoring the hard work and craft... The composer can be romanticised as this conduit for the creative forces to utilise, and that these masterpieces emerge fully formed from some alternate universe... But the reality is that there is a lot of hard work, craft and experimentation that is ignored. In science, the opposite is true: the spark of inspiration is often ignored in favour of presenting the experiments and the time in the lab - but success in any discipline requires both the spark and the graft.

To close I want to leave you with a few things that have inspired me throughout the past two years:

  • Collaborative interdisciplinary work has provided me with the most fascinating outcomes for my work - try not to become siloed within the academic environment.
  • Say yes to opportunities, you never know where they will lead. Do things. Don't leave all the interesting opportunities to tomorrow.
  • If something is done with enthusiasm and purpose no-one else will know it's a mistake... if you play a wrong note, repeat it a couple more times - then everyone will think it's on purpose.
  • Find some sense of comfort in the uncomfortable.
  • View the world with an inquisitive curiosity. Experience life. Experience art. Experience knowledge.

For the last few weeks of my time here in Dunedin I will be finishing up the soundtrack to the new 'Amazing Universe' show in the new Otago Museum planetarium (opening in December), and composing a new work for violin and electronics based on the poetry of Cilla McQueen.

I have absolutely enjoyed my time as the Mozart Fellow. The connections, collaborations and creativity I have been a part of in Dunedin will forever be a part of my journey. Thank you to everyone who has given their time, talent, patience, and support to the various projects I have tried to bring to life. I look forward to working with you all again in the future.

-Dr. Jeremy Mayall, November 2015

......................................

Some 2015 highlights:

Presented the following concerts:

  • Imagined Landscapes - Marama Hall, 4th August
  • Another World - Marama Hall, 11th August
  • Lost in a Moment - Toitu Otago Settlers Museum, 4th October
  • [still moments] - Dunedin Public Art Gallery, 14th November
  • 653 Days - Allen Hall Theatre, 15th November

Released the following albums:

Plus albums waiting to be released:

  • Charles the Magnificent Pony (a musical adaptation of a children's book by Scott Granville)
  • Conversations (a collection of works for solo instrument and backing track)

Hear me talk about some of this

An interview on Dunedin TV with Jeremy Mayall


653 days poster

2014 news from Jeremy

March 2014

It has been almost two months since Hamilton composer Jeremy Mayall began as the Mozart Fellow for 2014 and he is pleased to have the opportunity to focus more consistently on his music, free from other distractions. Jeremy is “completely thrilled” to be able to dedicate himself to composing under these very privileged circumstances. The fellowship has provided a break from attempting to find the balance between work, study, family and his musical life; giving him the freedom to simply spend the days writing music. This is something that Jeremy is very grateful for.

“As a composer with a young family, the benefits of having a full-time job, doing what I love for a year, are great. Being able to focus on my composition and really spend some quality time working on my music, and still have time with my family, is such a great opportunity.”

Jeremy is a composer/producer/performer whose current interest lies in “writing music that exists between genres”. His compositions and performances include, and synthesize, the genres of classical, jazz, blues, hip hop, funk, electronica, and more. He won first place in the Electroacoustic/Multimedia section of the 2013 Lilburn Composition Competition for both ‘Push for Miles’ for cello and backing track, and ‘Flow’ a multimedia video piece. He regularly composes music and sound design for film and theatre, and his recorded work has been released under a number of pseudonyms, most notably ‘One Fat Man’.

Currently finalising his PhD thesis in Music Composition at the University of Waikato, (supervised by the 1990 and 1991 Mozart Fellow Associate Professor Martin Lodge), Jeremy says he plans to use the 12 month Mozart Fellowship to write a new, larger scale orchestral work, record a new album, work on a couple of film scores, and compose a number of new chamber works continuing with the method of hybrid-genre composition he has been refining as part of his PhD studies.

He already has plans for a collaborative project with Caroline Plummer Fellow in Community Dance, Louise Potiki Bryant, and has been talking with other members of the music staff about other possibilities for collaboration. “I would also like to explore some new multi-media collaborations with other members of the University of Otago,” he says.

“The staff at the Music Department have been very welcoming and supportive, and the whole vibe of the university, and Dunedin itself, has been great so far. It is an inspiring and energising place to be and work.” Along with composing new music, Jeremy looks forward to having the opportunity to contribute to the lectures in the undergraduate programme this year.

“This year based in Dunedin also gives my family and I the chance to explore Otago and the wider South Island. I am sure that these travels, and environment and culture in Dunedin, will be beneficial for, and resonated in my compositions.”

Find more information about Jeremy and his music on his website.

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Update, May 2014

It has been a productive past couple of months here as the Mozart Fellow. Lots of projects on the go, and I still find myself amazed at the creative freedom afforded to me by this position. It is such an amazing opportunity.

Here is an update on some of the things I have been working on in the past few months:

Current Work in Progress

  • A piece for infinite guitars (a recording based piece)
  • A new orchestral piece
  • A multimedia theatre piece
  • A dance film with Caroline Plummer Community Dance Fellow Louise Potiki Bryant
  • An experimental film with Video Artist Dan Inglis
  • A song cycle for soprano Julia Booth

Photos from recordings for a new album of instrumental music featuring Adam Page

I have also started recordings on a new album of instrumental music inspired by the landscape and recently worked with multi-instrumentalist Adam Page. We recorded some parts in the Seaward Bush Reserve near Invercargill. Here are some photos from that recording.

Jeremy Mayall and Adam Page recording

Recording Adam Page

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Allen Hall Lunchtime Theatre proudly presents

Sound and Light

directed by Jeremy Mayall

A Mozart Fellow showcase featuring recent new works with special guests

August 7 & 8

sound and light poster

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The Song of Kauri, a musical interpretation with narration

  • Written and read by Melinda Szymanik
  • Music by Jeremy Mayall
  • Illustrated by Dominique Ford
  • Published by Scholastic New Zealan

Narration recorded at the University of Otago Albany Street Studios, with the support of Stephen Stedman and the University of Otago Department of Music.

Narration and music

Narration, music and images

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Update December 2014

I am nearly coming to the end of my first year as Mozart Fellow, and it is good to take a few moments to think about the things I have been working on.

(Please note:
Go to Jeremy's website for further details and links on all these projects.)

Imaginary Communication

My new album Imaginary Communication is available as a pay-what-you-like digital download. All proceeds received from the download of this album will be donated to the Himalayan Trust founded by Sir Edmund Hillary.

Go to the download site to get the album.

There is also a video clip of the track “Those Remarkable Peaks”.

imaginary communication cover art

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Late Song

This piece was commissioned by the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship Programme – as a cross-disciplinary multimedia piece to be performed by a range of Hillary Scholars.
The work is based on the poem ‘Late Song’ by Lauris Dorothy Edmond, and the performance was directed by Karen Barbour.

Featuring: Blaire White, Andrew Leathwick, Lauren Grout, Rachel Twyman, Nathaniel Smorti, Anne Mahon, Jonathon Eyres, Niamh Lovelock, Hannah Martin, Megan Harrop, Leah Parkinson, Samantha Rowe, Te Tira O Rangi Nikora, Kaharau Keogh, Hannah West, Cian Gardner.

Here is the mix from the live recording of the premiere performance.

Late Song performers

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Flutter and Cut Away the Masts

November 29th was the world premiere performance of two new pieces at the Otago Museum:
1) Flutter – a multi-sensory, site-specific performance piece including: the feel and smell of the Tropical Rainforest (with hundreds of free-flying butterflies); the sound of brilliant musicians – Julia Booth, Tessa Petersen, Rob Burns, John Egenes, and Feby Idrus (with words by Shoshana Sachi, and technical enhancement by Daniel Buchanan); the sight of the space and performers, as well as video by Dan Inglis and lighting by Martyn Roberts; and taste in the form of tasty morsels that correspond with the musical sections, created by the master baker at the Tart Tin boutique bake house.

2) Cut Away the Masts – a song cycle created in collaboration with 2014 Robert Burns Fellow Majella Cullinane. The poems in the songs are inspired by The McIlrath Letters, a series of letters which were written by two brothers, who emigrated from Northern Ireland to New Zealand in 1860, and wrote back to their family there for over fifty years. The songs will be performed by Julia Booth – Singer.

These two pieces have been recorded and are currently being mixed ready for release early 2015.

Flutter poster

Flutter performers in studio

Flutter food

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L.O.Q.SHUN

L.O.Q.Shun premiered on Radio NZ on Sunday afternoon during the Standing Room Only show. It was part of a larger interview about my ongoing work as the Mozart Fellow.

Check out the full interview.

This piece was developed through discussions with the singer Julia Booth about the work of Alexander Melville Bell on the study of elocution. We started talking about creating a loop-based performance piece in November 2013, and finally ended up in November 2014 with a completed recording of the work!

I had found a book online that he had written called “The Principles of Elocution” from 1887, and based the text of snippets from that book – particularly the second on difficult combinations.

The work is all voices (with reverb and delay effects).
Two vocalists:
soprano – Julia Booth
vocal noises – Jeremy Mayall

Listen to the work.

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New Recordings

I also managed to get some time in the Albany Street studio with Rob Burns and Robbie Craigie from the Music Department to work on some new music that we will release early 2015.

In the studio with Rob and Robbie

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Finally

And as a final part of this round up, here is a collection of most of the work I have created so far this year:

Films

  • Flare – with Dan Inglis and Dujon Cullingford
  • Whakaika Nei - with Louise Potiki Bryant, Rua McCallum and Horomona Horo
  • Partiality – with Tim Evans
  • To Darkness – with Chris Lam Sam
  • Princess Rose and the Rose Flowers and the Other Princesses - with Joe Hitchcock and Chris Lam Sam
  • Blonde – with Joanna Strange
  • DV Bryant Trust 90th Celebration – with Nimbus Media
  • on a trouvé l’horizon grand – with Ben Woollen and Chris Lam Sam
  • Penny Black (soundmix) – with Joe Hitchcock
  • Lapwing (soundmix) – with Joe Hitchcock
  • Lost Inside – thriller film cue

Compositions

  • Imaginary Communications – a suite for piano and electronics
  • Whit-woo – for solo bass
  • In that Infinite moment – for bass and piano
  • convoluted – for orchestra (to be recorded as part of the NZSO-SOUNZ-RadioNZ
  • Concert Recordings programme for 2015)
  • Infinite possibilities – for various recorded instruments
  • Late Song – for soprano, chorus, piano, violin, flute, clarinet and backing track
  • #tinyelephants – a sound art piece
  • Signature Asymmetry – for percussion and fixed media (premiered by Robbie
  • Craigie at ‘Sound and Light: A Mozart Fellow Showcase”)
  • He korokoro tūī – a soundscape for a site-specific dance work by Karen Barbour, featuring taonga puoro by Alistair Fraser. This was premiered at a conference in November.
  • Seaward Moments – for bansuri, field recordings and backing track with Adam Page
  • The Song of Kauri – a musical interpretation of childrens story by Melinda Szymanik
  • Through the pulsating debris – for four pianos
  • L.o.q.shun – for voice
  • Without Contact – soundscape and light with Martyn Roberts
  • Another World Asleep – soundscape and light with Martyn Roberts
  • Cosmic Outlaw – with Chris Lam Sam
  • Suburban Wires – with Chris Lam Sam
  • Tumbling Water – with Chris Lam Sam
  • Future Bounce – with Nick Granville
  • A Collection of Cues – with the Scorelocks Collective
  • Feathered Resonance – soundscape to accompany artwork by Madeleine Child in Wallace Art Awards

Remixes

  • John Egenes – Little Bird
  • John Egenes - Crazy Sons of Bitches
  • Subject2change – #22
  • Ed Zuccollo – Marianas Trenchcoat
  • Nick Granville – Get Lucky
  • Cheshire Grimm – Egocentric Lullabye

Plus some various production, arrangement and orchestration work for various unreleased projects!

And there is a bunch of new stuff to come!! Exciting times ahead.

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Photo of Samuel Holloway

Samuel Holloway

Mozart Fellow 2013

Samuel Holloway is pleased to have the opportunity to focus more consistently on his creative research, free from his usual pressures.

“I am interested in creating work that has a seriousness and rigour, and the Fellowship offers the necessary time and freedom to achieve this,” he says.

Samuel has won a number of national and international awards, including first prize in the Asian Composers League Young Composer Competition in 2007. His work has been performed by many prominent artists and ensembles, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the NZTrio, Stroma and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra.

Mozart Fellows featured on Radio NZ Concert, May 2013

To celebrate New Zealand Music Week on RadioNZConcert, William Dart presents compositions by recipients of the Mozart Fellowship, from its inception to the present day. Samuel's composition, 'Fault' was featured on Friday 10 May.

View the Radio NZ schedule for the week 5 to 10 May 2013

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Mozart Fellow challenged by physics and et al.

The experimental and new music of 2013 Mozart Fellow Samuel Holloway isn’t inaccessible, it’s out there - being performed, and shown, by renowned New Zealand artists. (September 2013)

Read the Otago Bulletin article.

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Photo of Robbie Ellis

Robbie Ellis

Mozart Fellow 2012

 

February 2013

This is my end-of-Fellowship write-up. The boring thing to present would be a laundry list of Pieces I Wrote, Ensembles I Collaborated With, Premières That Took Place, and People I Did Stuff With. There were a lot of them - that's what happens when you give somebody the opportunity to compose full-time for a year without having to chase other income. All those details are out there if you care to look.

Instead, here's a very abbreviated list of Dunedin highlights:

- Rolling into town after an eight-hour drive with a fully laden car and having my new neighbour offer to help me unpack.

- That first Song Sale in February, where musicians were booked on spec and nobody knew how it would go. Surprising all of us, it actually went quite well.

- That last Song Sale in December, when I sat down at half time, drank a beer, and left it up to Corwin and Gabby (the new management) to run the rest of the show. I'm very proud to have built something in Dunedin which has funding and motivation from others to continue.

- The opening night of Zomburlesque in the Dunedin Fringe Festival, which I had worked my arse off to publicise. Come to think of it, the only time I got properly sick in 2012 was in the very stressful lead-up to Fringe.

- Driving to the top of Mt Cargill to stand by the transmission tower with fog on all sides and the wind rushing in my face.

- The many shows I played with Improsaurus as a musician, especially their first improvised musical in September. I'm proud to be observing from afar their first forays onto the national scene as they head to the Wellington Fringe: http://www.fringe.co.nz/The-Green-Room.

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- Going to the Chinese Garden on a fine day and reflecting on life.

- Forcing second-year Composition students to invent music and direct actors simultaneously, and watching them rise to the challenge.

- The many hours spent in Albany Street Studios. As a former employee of Radio New Zealand it felt like stepping back in time to Broadcasting House behind Parliament (RIP) that RNZ old-timers still lament losing. Dunedin is lucky to have that building.

- Also from Albany Street, there was that amazing live broadcast of Western Art Music on Radio One, possibly the only ever programme in the history of student radio to start and finish on time.

- And I can't forget Elizabeth Bouman's review of me in the ODT : http://www.odt.co.nz/news/dunedin/225646/something-little-different : "His excellent diction and visual interpretation exposed the humour of every line, but the baritone quality is best left unsaid!" Cheers darl, love that quote. Describes my voice perfectly.

Photo of Robbie at Tulum Mexico
Photo: At the ruins of Tulum, on Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula

Now it's early February 2013 and I write this from the top deck of a bus between Ixtapa and Guadalajara, a Mexican beach resort town and the country's second-largest city respectively. I have vacated my office and flat in Dunedin, my employment is officially over, I have received my last salary payment and my successor is now installed in his office. That said, I don't feel like my Fellowship is done yet. I'm travelling for an extended period only because of the significant (albeit temporary) salary bump and the savings I accumulated in that time. So far I've spent two weeks in Cuba, a perplexing place and the origin of music that has fascinated me since high school. In Mexico, I've scaled pyramids, been awed by cathedrals and lain on beaches.

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Photo of Robbie at Che Guevara Monument Cuba

Photo: The Che Guevara Monument near Santa Clara, Cuba. Picture to scale.

Next week I head to the USA for the Seattle Festival of Improvisational Theater: http://www.seattleimprov.com/, full of performances and workshops. In a month I see Gustavo Dudamel at Walt Disney Hall conducting Stravinsky and Adams (John, not previous Mozart Fellow Chris). I'll be in Austin, Texas during the huuuge South By South West festival: http://sxsw.com/ (fingers crossed that my media accreditation comes through), and I plan to spend extended periods in both Chicago and New York. Also, I'll do some composing. Because I skived off from Dunners six weeks before my job ended, I still kinda feel like I owe the Fellowship a piece or two. Don't worry, there's something in the pipeline for Tessa Petersen and John Van Buskirk.

But best of all, this extended period away from New Zealand - especially away from the jam-packed summer festival season (Wellington/Auckland/Dunedin Fringes, Auckland Arts Fest, Hamilton Gardens etc) - is giving me time to dream. Instead of plunging straight back into that very familiar treadmill of shows, seasons and concerts, I'm taking these long flights and bus journeys to reflect on longer-term goals. Two in particular are to mount my own solo Comedy Festival show in the next couple of years and to write and produce a musical. To paraphrase the renowned philosopher Rachel Hunter, it won't happen overnight but it will happen.

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I left Dunedin with two thoughts about the world I inhabited for a year. One is about the Fellowship itself, and one is about the Music Department.

Firstly, I feel the Mozart Fellowship should be two years long. This isn't sour grapes about personally being turned down for a second year (I address that here: http://www.robbie.co.nz/2012/09/11/when-plans-change/), but it's more an observation about who I had the chance to write for. By and large, the bulk of eligible and suitable candidates for the Mozart Fellowship live in Auckland, Wellington or overseas, and most of us don't know the Dunedin music scene before we apply. When we are announced as Fellow over four months before our term actually starts, our current friends have a head-start in "booking in" pieces to be written. By the time I had got through writing everything I'd promised my Auckland and Wellington colleagues, it was very late in the year. Only then could I turn my attention to writing anything significant for Dunedin locals. It's a sad fact that we're simply more likely to write for people we already know, but with a guaranteed second year, you'd get a lot more new work specifically for Dunedin performers. That's my perspective at least.

Before I get to my second point, I want to identify noble exceptions, particularly those active in the Chamber Vulgarus collective. Now down to it: Otago's student composers are not as savvy as their counterparts at other New Zealand universities. In the University of Otago Department of Music, composers and performers all too often simply don't talk to each other, and many composers don't get their music played by humans. This means they miss out on learning what performers expect of notation and idiomatic instrumental writing, and how to get the best results out of the rehearsal and development process. It's hard to diagnose a single cause. One obvious one is the lack of regular workshop time in Marama Hall where students can present new works, performed by their peers, and receive feedback. But could it also be the architecture? Sale/Black House and Marama Hall are buildings of their time - stern, poky, no-nonsense structures without sweeping atriums or open-plan foyers to hang out in between lectures. When I think of how much I learnt talking to my student peers in the foyer of 6 Symonds St, Auckland - a set of couches nestled between a courtyard, the Music Theatre, a loading zone and three floors of offices and studios - I feel disappointed that Dunedin's classical music students have no equivalent Grand Central Station, or even a student common room! There's learning inside the classroom, and there's learning outside the classroom. Perhaps it's all that learning _around_ the classroom that Otago's student composers are missing out on.

When I return to New Zealand in May, I'll settle in Auckland, the city of my birth. I have a couple of short jobs lined up with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Radio New Zealand, and then... who knows. Five years ago I took a leap of faith moving from Auckland to Wellington with the intention of being a freelance something-or-other, and life came together pretty well. Given the incredible cachet that the Mozart Fellowship has given me so early in my career, I'm sure things'll work out as a freelancer. For instance, there's a pretty good chance I've got one or two trips back to Dunedin this year for some work. And who knows, maybe in the distant future I'll take up that second year of the Mozart Fellowship when I'm 65 or something. Good, that's settled. Book me in for 2049!

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April 2012

Robbie Ellis is a composer, performer, musician, and writer of biographies in the third person.

Born on Auckland's sunny North Shore, he studied at the University of Auckland School of Music, majoring in Composition with John Elmsly and Eve de Castro-Robinson. After graduation he worked as a producer and presenter for Radio New Zealand Concert in Wellington, and still contributes to the network on a contract basis.

Upon the University of Otago's announcement that he was to be the 2012 Mozart Fellow, he made all sorts of promises to performing groups that he'd write them pieces. This year, inbetween writing third-person bios for many different purposes, he is madly scrambling to complete said compositions for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, organist Timothy Noon (Holy Trinity Cathedral, Auckland), drummer Jono Sawyer (Batucada Sound Machine), the Estrella Quartet (winners of the 2011 Royal Overseas League International Scholarship for a Chamber Ensemble), Saxcess (for a Chamber Music New Zealand tour), and Auckland Youth Orchestra.

Further compositional promises of varying degrees of feasibility include to NZTrio, the Southern Sinfonia, bass clarinettist Andrew Uren, Chamber Vulgarus, Ben Hoadley's New Zealand Music for Woodwinds project, and the Westlake Boys & Girls High School choir Choralation (3x Platinum Awards, The Big Sing Finale).

Oh yes, did the writer mention he's trying to compose a musical as well? (The writer wishes to emphasise that the University of Otago website is not the only outlet which requires a third-person biography today, but is the closest target for his bemusement.)

Robbie also brought to Dunedin a gig format called Song Sale. This is a performance where the audience can commission brand new songs from a group of songwriter-performers, and then hear them that night. This gig runs once a month at The Church - Restaurant, Bar & Cinema on Dundas St. (Okay, let's drop this third person nonsense.) I reckon you should Like us on Facebook and find out when the next gig is:
http://www.facebook.com/SongSaleDunedin

Last of all, I'm also a specialist musician for improv theatre, and I've worked extensively with ConArtists (Auckland), The Improvisors (Wellington) and Wellington Improvisation Troupe. I've performed improv around the country, as well as in Melbourne, Adelaide and Rotterdam, and in July I'm travelling to Canberra for Improvention 2012. Now in based Dunedin, I'm taking the opportunity to perform with local troupe Improsaurus, as well as The Court Jesters of Christchurch.

In the near future (the next five minutes), Robbie will resume composing.

Robbie's Website

Go to Robbie's website for more about him and events he's involved with.

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Christopher Adams

Christopher Adams

Mozart Fellow 2010 and 2011

May 2011

The Mozart Fellowship gives you the time and freedom to observe, to take in and reflect; something that often gets lost when you are busy going from project to project, or maintaining a number of different and often conflicting jobs at the same time.

I have also really enjoyed being in an “artistic hub” with the different arts fellows at the University of Otago, being able to meet and talk with dancers, authors and artists. I have been particularly lucky to have been able to meet last year’s fellows as well as the current fellows.

I’m currently looking at working on a collaborative project with Fiona Farrell later in the year and hope also to be involved in the project that Lyne Pringle is working towards as part of her residency.

May tends to be a busy month for music in New Zealand (NZ Music Month). I have a number of performances scheduled: the NZ Trio are performing Jekyll Rat in Titirangi (Auckland, 1st May), Oamaru (3rd May) and Dunedin (4th May); the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra are reading Anastasis as part of the NZSO-SOUNZ readings in Wellington on the 9th May; the Auckland Philharmonia are premiering Antonyms of Trust (11th May) as part of the the Auckland Writers and Readers Festival and I have a new string trio being performed in the lunchtime concert in Marama Hall on the 18th May.

I have also recently finished work on the commission for the Southern Sinfonia, Symphonic Dances will be premiered as part of their second matinee series concert on the 19th of June.

May 2010

Chris Adams is only three months into his Fellowship and has already completed a number of new works for different groups around New Zealand. Three premiere performances will take place in May with further concerts planned for later in the year.

Prior to coming to Dunedin to take up the Mozart Fellowship, Chris was the 2009 Auckland Philharmonia Composer in Residence. “It was an honour to have such a prestigious residency so early in my career, but there were very specific output requirements which meant that most of my writing last year was for the orchestra and players from the ensemble. I also had commitments to the school where I was part-time Head of Music which gave me limited time for creative exploration.”

“The Mozart Fellowship, by contrast, has allowed me a fantastic amount of artistic freedom. I’ve had the flexibility to accept projects as they arise for an extremely varied range of groups and I have also had the space to develop my compositional process and ideas. The financial stability of the Fellowship means that I have been really productive and that I can completely focus on composition while I’m here.”

Of the upcoming performances of Chris’ music, one of the pieces is a commission by the contemporary music ensemble Silencio for a programme of new works to be performed in Christchurch on the 25th May. Two further compositions will be premiered in Dunedin: one for the Otago Symphonic Band, a wind band of around 30 members, on the 15th May, and one for violin quartet on 19th May as part of the Department of Music’s Showcase series.

Chris is also doing some lecturing on composition to the second year students in the Department of Music and also taking first year tutorials. “The department is very vibrant and supportive and being involved in teaching obviously helps my own work. No matter what level you are at, a lot of the processes you go through as a composer are similar, so teaching helps you to be more aware of the range of possibilities available in composition.”

Chris is currently working on a major piece for actor and orchestra for the Auckland Philharmonia to be workshopped and recorded later in the year. The text, by the New Zealand writer, Sam Mahon, is about water conservation issues and environmental degradation in New Zealand. The Auckland Philharmonia will perform the work next year as part of the 2011 Auckland Writers and Readers Festival.

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Chris Watson

Mozart Fellow 2008 and 2009

Chris Watson 2009

2009 has, following on from a busy first year as Mozart Fellow, been packed with creative activity.  The major areas of focus have been the completion of a major new work for piano duo and the preparation of a documentary film about the Nelson Composers Workshop.  The piano duo, named coffee table book, was commissioned by pianists Xenia Pestova (Canada) and Pascal Meyer (Luxembourg).  As Duo Pestova/Meyer, they will premiere the work in Wellington in June, with a follow-up performance at the University of Otago (July 29).  The prospect of working with performers of this calibre and who have such a dedicated approach to complex new music is very exciting.

While it might seem strange for a composer to be working in the field of filmmaking (aside from soundtrack creating duties), I see the Mozart Fellowship as a wonderful opportunity to spend some time expanding my skillset.  The subject of my film, the Nelson Composers Workshop is an institution to which many New Zealand composers, myself included, owe a great deal and is one that I feel is in urgent need of video documentation.  This midwinter injection of inspiration through rehearsal and performance opportunities and meeting up with other composers is widely regarded as the cause of great collegiality in the New Zealand composition community.  My film draws on some ten hours of footage that I shot at the 2008 Workshop.  Over the course of some 40 minutes, the film follows the experiences of two composers through rehearsal, performance and open forum, offering an all too rare insight into the creative lives of emerging composers.

The remainder of 2009 will see the finishing touches put on my documentary, the composition of a piano trio for performance by Otago Music Department staff and the writing of a new work for gamelan for the retirement concert of the New Zealand School of Music's Jack Body.  I'm also hoping that there will be some time at the end of the year to embark on a new work for orchestra, having enjoyed writing a violin concerto at the conclusion of 2008.  While I find myself working very hard, this doesn't feel like hard work  - it's pure creative freedom and is something I feel grateful to wake to each day.

Further details at http://www.chriswatsoncomposer.com/news.htm

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Closing remarks, 2009

The final six months of my tenure as Mozart Fellow have been productive and reflective, with the premieres of three works prepared during my time in Dunedin.

My documentary film about the Nelson Composers Workshop was premiered on the opening night of the same event in July and is available to view online at http://www.vimeo.com/5533607. It is hoped that the film will serve as a document of the successes of this almost thirty year old institution and as an encouragement for emerging composers to attend.

Later in July my piano duo, Coffee Table Book, received its premiere performance in Wellington by Xenia Pestova (Canada) and Pascal Meyer (Luxembourg). Xenia and Pascal gave an additional performance (along with a new work by Dugal McKinnon and Stravinsky's Rite) at Otago University's Marama Hall. The Wellington performance can be seen at http://www.vimeo.com/5689470.

And in September I had the privilege of working with Otago musicians Tessa Petersen (violin), Jono Squire (cello) and John Van Buskirk (piano) in preparation for their Marama Hall premiere of a piano trio in three micro movements called Schemata (http://www.vimeo.com/6773478).

I'm hoping to complete two more compositions and a short documentary film about a recent new work by Anthony Ritchie before my time in Dunedin is up.

Inevitably, the worst thing about being an Otago Arts Fellow is that one's time must come to an end. While I don't expect to be able to enjoy the kind of time, freedom and funding that the Fellowship has afforded me again any time soon, I'm confident that the memory of the last two years will sustain me as I step back into the everyday run of life of a composer.

Chris Watson

2008

Being the Mozart Fellow allows me to dedicate myself to my art form under very privileged and rare circumstances. The freedom to simply spend my days writing music is something that very few composers ever experience and, as such, I feel a keen sense of responsibility to make the most of my time in the role.

I have a number of projects lined up for 2008. The first two are ongoing Creative New Zealand commissions, both duos: for percussion and violin (for Arnold Marinissen and Marco Roosink) and for flute and piano (for Mette Leroy and Jamie Cock). These works are scheduled for performances in Europe in 2008/09. In late June I will be providing music for dance choreographed by Caroline Plummer Fellow Barbara Snook. I also intend to return to orchestral writing, with a large new work. Finally, I hope to branch out somewhat in my creative endeavours by realising a video documentary about the Nelson Composers Workshop, an institution to which I owe a debt of gratitude.

The staff at the Music Department have been very welcoming and supportive, and have given me the opportunity to lecture second year composition students, something that I look forward to very much. Moving from Wellington to Dunedin gives me the chance to explore Otago, Fiordland and Southland; I expect that these travels, and the less hectic (but no less vibrant) living environment provided by Dunedin will have a positive impact on my compositions.

 


Otago Fellows University of Otago