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Born 1955 in Napier (New Zealand), with most schooling in Taupo. Attended Auckland University 1974-1979, gaining Master of Music (1st class honours) and Bachelor of Arts degrees. Principal composition teachers were Douglas Mews and John Rimmer. Attended Auckland Teachers College in 1980, and joined the staff of Epsom Girls Grammar School the following year - appointed Head of Music in 1986. There is also extensive involvement nationally with music education including prescription writing, moderation, and as a member of the Music expert panel guiding the implementation of the new National Certificate in Educational Achievement from 1999 to 2003. Deputy Music Director of Auckland Choral (Auckland's symphonic choir) from 1996 to 2011. Served as Composer-in-Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for 1999, with leave from school extended through 2000 to pursue a number of composition projects. Returned to full-time teaching in 2001, resigning at the end of the year to devote more time to composition while maintaining active involvement in music education on a part-time basis. Continued as conductor of the highly regarded girls choir ‘Opus’ from Epsom Girls Grammar School until the end of 2003. Now working as a composition tutor and choral conductor in several Auckland schools, and involved with occasional part-time lecturing at the University of Auckland. In 2013 David Hamilton was the guest composer at the national choral event Sing Aotearoa, and wrote "A Traveller's Prayer: Ka u ki Matanuku" for the event.

He is also active as a choral conductor with community choirs, having worked with Tauranga Civic Choir, Napier Civic Choir, Pakuranga Choral Society and South Auckland Choral Society, as well as conducting Auckland Choral on several occasions. Major works conducted include Lambert's 'The Rio Grande', Haydn's 'Nelson' Mass (three times), Mozart's 'Requiem', Saint Saëns 'Christmas Oratorio', Gounod's 'Saint Cecelia' Mass, Bach cantatas, and Britten's 'Ceremony of Carols', along with a number of his own choral cycles.  He is also active as a choral adjudicator, having served on juries in Japan (twice) and Hawaii, at the Trelew international choral competition in Argentina in 2009, and in 2012 received an invitation to be an adjudicator at the prestigious Eisteddfod in Llangollen (Wales) with a return invitation in 2013.
 

Early recognition as a composer came through winning three national competitions in 1978, and another in 1979. Winner of Wellington Youth Orchestra's composers' competition twice (1978 and 1981), and Dunedin Sinfonia's competition (1987). Recent awards include first prize in the 2000 choral composition competition organised by the University of Bologna (Italy), first prize in the 2003 orchestral composition competition organised by New Zealand's New Plymouth Orchestra, and first prize in the NUVOVOX Choral Award in the USA in 2005 for "Deus, Deus Meus". This was followed in 2006 with the Ned Rorem Award for Song Composition in the USA and 1st prize in a competition by the NZ Flute Society for a new piece for solo flute. In 2007 “Hine Raukatauri”, a concerto for flute and chamber orchestra, took 1st prize in the Haifa International Composers Competition (Israel), and a setting of “The Singers” took 2nd place in the Longfellow Chorus Composers' Competition (USA). In 2008 “Carol of Cold Comfort” was awarded 2nd place in The Chapter House Choir Composers’ Competition (York, England), and in 2014 “Wairau” for solo harp took 1st place in the NZ Harp Society’s competition.

Works have been commissioned by most major New Zealand groups including Radio New Zealand, NZ Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Choral Society, Chamber Music NZ, the NZ Youth Choir, and the Auckland Philharmonia. Works are increasingly being performed outside New Zealand, with recent performances in Brisbane, Melbourne and Canberra (Australia), Vancouver and Toronto (Canada), Seattle, San Francisco, Washington DC and Georgia (USA), Manchester and York (England), and Galway (Ireland).

There is a particular affinity for choral music, with well over a hundred works for this medium, many of which are widely and regularly performed throughout New Zealand. In late 1991 a CD of a dozen choral works was released under the title “Noises, Sounds and Sweet Airs” (performed by Auckland choir Viva Voce). A substantial number of choral works have been published in Finland by SULASOL, and in the USA by Colla Voce Music, Walton Music, Neil Kjos Music, BriLee Music and earthsongs, with works recorded in North America, England, Ireland and Finland. Current major influences are from the contemporary American scene: especially the minimalist composers (Glass, Reich, Adams, Torke etc.).

Note: medium-length and brief biographical notes are printed at the foot of this page, suitable for concert programmes etc.
 

“To my mind this young writer is the most successful composer in the country in reconciling an original and imaginative style with music that is immediately accessible to a wide public.”
Ian Dando (Christchurch Star 28/6/90)

“Not surprisingly it was David Hamilton's day; this composer has cut quite a swathe through the already strong choral tradition within New Zealand with his highly effective pieces.”
Tara Werner (reviewing the Secondary Schools Choral Festival NZ Herald 22/6/95)

“Cast in three movements, the work is beautifully written for large orchestral forces, with a prominent role for the percussion. In the past, Hamilton’s work has been for smaller instrumental forces and choral platforms, so the consummate orchestral skill of 'Leukos' confirms immediately the value of his recent residency with the Auckland Philharmonia.”
Heath Lees (reviewing the premiere of 'Leukos', NZ Herald 20/10/00)

"The highlight for me was David Hamilton's "The Dragons are Singing Tonight", a strong well-crafted and highly entertaining work, performed with confidence and obvious enjoyment."
David Sell (reviewing "The Dragons are Singing Tonight", Christchurch Press 7/8/00)

"...and to cap it, the premiere of a commissioned work by David Hamilton. I say "to cap it all" because "Monday's Troll" was a real treat; it is a well-crafted work which fitted into the programme well and had the right humorous touch and gave the City Choir their best slot of the night. Hamilton is well-known for his vocal writing and this work is no exception; his orchestration was similarly impressive."
Patrick Shepherd (reviewing the premiere of "Monday's Troll" Christchurch Press 11/11/02

“Hamilton piece a triumph of innovation and vibrancy… A more welcoming score you could not imagine…it was the sheer inventiveness of the composer that made the work so vibrant. This was a solid and exciting piece, written with a balance of expertise and sensitivity that should ensure it is picked up by other enterprising choral groups.”
     William Dart (reviewing the premiere of “Missa Pacifica” NZ Herald 9/11/05)

"...David Hamilton's newly commissioned "Karakia of the Stars". With a choral wash of sound that evoked an image of Ligeti on the marae, the composer combined (Horomona Horo's) eloquent koauau solo, the insistent tapping of small stones, small hand-held bells chimed by the singers and fervent vocal solos....It was an effective cultural synthesis..."
William Dart reviewing the concert by Voices New Zealand (November 2011)

 

Medium length biographical note (updated 2016)

David Hamilton (b. 1955), is one of New Zealand's most widely performed composers. Until 2001 Head of Music at Epsom Girls Grammar School in Auckland, from 2002 he has been concentrating on composing, reducing teaching commitments to part-time. He continued to work with Opus, the top choir of Epsom Girls Grammar School until the end of 2003, and conducted St Mary's Schola (St Mary's College 2008-2012). He was a foundation member of the New Zealand Youth Choir (1979-1982), has been composer-in-residence with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (1999), and has also been Deputy Music Director of Auckland Choral (1996-2011).

With a strong interest and involvement in choral music, Hamilton's music is being increasingly performed by choirs around the world. Recent significant performances have been in Italy, Japan, Singapore, Taiwan, and the USA, and works have been commissioned by choirs in England, Japan, Ireland, the USA and Finland.

He is also active as a choral adjudicator, having been invited to Japan in 2000 (Takarazuka International Chamber Choir Contest) and 2003 (Japan Choral Association high schools choir competition), and to Hawaii in 2005 (Pacific Basin Music Festival). In September 2009 he was an adjudicator and workshop leader at the Trelew international choir competition in Argentina, and in 2012 received an invitation to be an adjudicator at the prestigious Eisteddfod in Llangollen, Wales (with a return invitation in 2013). Also in demand as a workshop presenter in New Zealand and overseas. He has lectured in both the School of Music and School of Education at the University of Auckland. In 2013 he was guest composer at Sing Aotearoa, the national choral event, and composed the work which everyone performed at 'The Forest Sing'. In early 2015 he was composer-in-residence at the NZ Singing School.

He is also busy as a choral conductor with community choirs, having worked with Tauranga Civic Choir, Napier Civic Choir, Pakuranga Choral Society, Taupo Choral Society and South Auckland Choral Society, as well as conducting Auckland Choral on several occasions. Major works conducted include Lambert's 'The Rio Grande', Haydn's 'Nelson' Mass (three times) and 'Little Organ Mass', Handel's 'Samson', Mozart's 'Requiem' and Clarinet Concerto, Saint Saens 'Christmas Oratorio', Gounod's 'Saint Cecilia' Mass, Mendelssohn's "Vom himmel hoch" and "Elijah", Bach cantatas, and Britten's 'Ceremony of Carols', along with a number of his own choral cycles.
 

Brief biographical note (updated 2016)....

DAVID HAMILTON
New Zealand composer David Hamilton studied at Auckland University (1974-1979), gaining Master of Music (1st class honours), and was Head of Music at Epsom Girls Grammar School, Auckland until 2001. He has been Deputy Music Director of Auckland Choral (1996-2011), and in 1999 was Composer-in-Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra. He teaches on a part-time basis as a composition tutor and choral conductor.

He is particularly known for his choral music, especially for school and youth choirs. His music has been published and recorded in North America, England and Finland. Recent works have been commissioned by choirs in Japan, Finland, England, USA, Canada, and Ireland. In 2013 he was guest composer at the national choral event Sing Aotearoa, and in 2015 composer-in-residence at the NZ Singing School.

He has won composition competitions in Italy (2000), New Zealand (2003 and 2006), and the USA (2005 and 2006). Most recently “Hine Raukatauri”, a concerto for flute and chamber orchestra, took 1st prize in the Haifa International Composers Competition (Israel) 2007, and a setting of “The Singers” took 2nd place in the Longfellow Chorus Composers Competition (USA). In 2008 “Carol of Cold Comfort” was awarded 2nd place in The Chapter House Choir Composers’ Competition (York, England), and in 2014 “Wairua” for solo harp took 1st place in the NZ Harp Society’s competition.