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Philip Neill Memorial Concert celebrates 75 years of composition prize

Thursday 26 September 2019 9:41pm

The Philip Neill Memorial Concert will be held at 3pm this Sunday 29 September at St Paul's Cathedral.

The Philip Neill Memorial Concert in St Paul’s Cathedral this Sunday celebrates 75 years since the Philip Neill Memorial Prize in Music was established, and will feature performances of eight prize winners from the past.

“This concert presents a unique and wonderful opportunity to hear an all-New Zealand music concert that ranges from contemporary music way back to music from the 1940s, performed by staff and students at the School of Performing Arts,” say Professor Anthony Ritchie.

The University of Otago Philip Neill Memorial Prize in Music was established in 1943 in memory of the late Philip Foster Neill, a medical student who died in 1943. It is New Zealand’s longest running composition prize.

The list of former recipients reads like a who’s who of New Zealand’s best composers over the years, including Douglas Lilburn, Edwin Carr and Sir William Southgate.

The concert begins with the very first winner, Douglas Lilburn’s Prelude and Fugue for organ, played by Simon Mace.

The University's new Voice lecturer, Dr Tessa Romano, will feature in two of the pieces, singing John Ritchie’s Three Housman Songs and Dorothy Buchanan’s Fragments and Letters, which also includes cellist, Heleen Du Plessis and clarinettist, Stephen Cranefield.

Associate Professor Peter Adams is a former prize winner and has re-arranged his Sonata for clarinet and violin for Tessa Petersen and Stephen Cranefield to perform.

Former Mozart fellows also feature, with Jeremy Mayall’s evocative Frosted Air Suite being performed by flutist, Feby Idrus, accompanied by a backing track.

More recent composition is included, with Kerian Varaine’s Crave Release for violin and piano being played by Nathaniel Otley and Tom McGrath. Last year’s winning entry, a piano duet called #babylife by Corwin Newall will be premiered by Corwin with Professor Terence Dennis. There is even a feature role for the page-turner! (Feby Idrus)

Rounding out the concert is Leonie Holmes’ piece for two pianos and eight hands, entitled A Tedious brief scene: Bottom’s Dance.

The winner for 2019 will also be announced at the concert.

The concert is at 3pm on Sunday 29 September at St Paul's Cathedral. Entry is by koha, with proceeds going to the Dunedin Night Shelter.

Music on the programme

Douglas Lilburn – Prelude and Fugue
John Ritchie – Three Housman Songs
Peter Adams – Sonata for clarinet and violin
Dorothy Buchanan – Fragments and Letters
Leonie Holmes – A Tedious brief scene: Bottom’s Dance
Kerian Varaine – Crave Release
Jeremy Mayall – Frosted Air Suite
Corwin Newall - #babylife


Corwin Newall
Tessa Romano
Simon Mace
Feby Idrus
Nathaniel Otley
Tessa Petersen
Heleen du Plessis
Stephen Cranefield
Terence Dennis
Tom McGrath