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Mozart Fellow challenged by physics and et al.

Thursday 5 September 2013 8:05am

Samuel Holloway_Mozart Fellow_Bulletin650
2013 Mozart Fellow Samuel Holloway.

Samuel Holloway began his Mozart Fellowship in February with plans for new work, and the luxury of time to complete projects already underway – but he’s also run with new opportunities offered by artists producing work as challenging as his own.

“One that wasn’t on the horizon was a collaborative project with et al., the Auckland-based collective,” Mr Holloway says. “Upright Piano, the work we created, has a number of components – a painted and modified piano, an annotated score, and the potential for a live realisation involving performances with the piano.”

Upright Piano was shown in April and May at Michael Lett, a gallery in Auckland, as part of the show Michael Parekowhai et al.. The work has since been acquired by the Chartwell Collection (a collection of contemporary art from New Zealand and Australia held on long term loan at the Auckland Art Gallery).

A work Mr Holloway began prior to arriving in Dunedin, and completed in May, has received its premiere performances. Written for a Chamber Music New Zealand tour that took place in July, Matter wasn’t the easiest of pieces to complete.

Mr Holloway explains, “The project was called Einstein’s Universe, and included both a lecture by Oxford University Professor Brian Foster about Einstein’s life and work, and a concert of music that Einstein, as an amateur violinist, played and loved. My piece needed to have some connection with the subject, requiring me to learn about Einstein’s work; some of the physics was a struggle... But the performances went well, and the piece was well reviewed, which is affirming.

“I was delighted to be offered the commission. My music is usually programmed alongside new and experimental music, while in this concert it was with Brahms and Beethoven. It was a welcome opportunity to share my work with potentially a very different audience.”

Mr Holloway is deeply committed to New Zealand’s experimental/new music scene and the musicians who perform it. He is artistic director of 175 East, one of New Zealand’s foremost contemporary music ensembles. In 2011 he launched Score, a publishing enterprise dedicated to new music.

“Making and sharing challenging new music isn’t that easy anywhere in the world,” he says. “Funding is limited and we are a small community, and there are limited numbers of people who are really interested in new music in a meaningful sense.

“But I think if you are going to stay and live and work in New Zealand, then you have to make things happen; no-one else is going to do it for you. And at the moment I have the energy to be involved in these activities.”

Even so, prior to taking up the Mozart Fellowship, Mr Holloway was aware that he wasn’t creating as much work as he wanted to.

“I don’t need to be prolific, but I had realised that I needed to be writing more. Having my own office in a quiet corner of the University is extremely useful – I’ve never had a space like this before. It is very easy to tuck myself away here.”