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Recent New Works | Archives

Recent new works - a selection

A Call to Arms (2013)

solo baritone, SATB, piano
“A Call to Arms” was commissioned by Cantando Choir of Hamilton to mark ANZAC Day 2014. The selected texts speak of those who were intimately involved with the war, and the poets themselves were the participants and observers. They range from a poem about the soldiers marching off to the start of the war, through to a ‘perfect epilogue’ at the end of the war. In between are a short poem about Anzac Cove, a poem describing the laughter and song that accompanied the march towards the hell of Flanders, and a poem whose sub-text suggests deeper bonds formed between the men on active duty - even if that could not be openly acknowledged. The final movement uses Robert Bridges’ “Hymn in War Time” (sung to the well-known Tallis’s canon) as a counterpoint to the soloist.

Anthem for Doomed Youth (2013)

solo tenor, SATB, chamber orchestra
“Anthem for Doomed Youth” was written for a ‘war and peace’ themed concert to be performed on ANZAC Day 2014 by Auckland Choral. This work was written to follow another contemporary piece - an incomplete requiem setting, and the request was for something simple and beautiful to complement the more angular and dissonant requiem. The work is broadly in three sections, with a faster middle section where the text refers to the sounds of war, and the bugles “…calling for them from sad shires”. The scoring of this work matches that of the requiem, hence the unusual forces: three wind, percussion and strings. Of particular note is the percussion part which picks up on the reference to bells in the opening line of the poem - surely one of the most evocative of sounds.

A Traveller's Prayer: Ka u ki Matanuku (2013)

Composed for 2 mixed-voice choirs (or SATB choir with unison choir), this work was commissioned for Sing Aotearoa 2013. The text is an anonymous poem printed in the well-known volume “100 New Zealand Poems” (edited by Bill Manhire) where it is simply titled “Charm”. Matched with it is a Maori translation (the original version of the poem recorded in the mid-1800s), so the two languages sit side by side in the piece. The poem talks of arriving in a new place – a “resting place” where thanks can be given to the “spirit of the earth”.

St Luke's Magnificat (2013)

SATB, organ (or piano)
Composed for the Community of St Luke (Remuera, Auckland), this setting of the traditional English transaltion is a straight-forward work within the scope of a church choir.

In Flanders Fields (2013)

SATB, piano
This setting of “In Flanders Fields” was written for a commemoration of the Passchendaele battle in October 2013 at which members of Auckland Choral were to sing. A request had been made for music which referenced the war and, if possible, Flanders. Not finding a suitable piece, I offered to write a new setting of this well-known poem. Originally for solo voice, it was re-scored for mixed-voice choir.

A Blessing of Light (2013)

solo baritone, SATB, piano
Composed for Taupo Choral Society, this short work sets a text which combines several traditional blessings around the theme of light.

The Kingston Flyer (2013)

string orchestra
Written for Grammar Virtuosi (Auckland Grammar School) this short work sets out to create a musical picture of the well-known South Island steam train The Kingston Flyer.

Chimera (2013)

organ and symphony orchestra
"Chimera" came out of a composer workshop over 2012 2013 where composers were matched with organists to create new works for organ and orchestra.

Concertino for Oboe and String Orchestra (2012)

oboe, string orchestra
This work consists of a traditional three movement form: fast-slow-fast. The first movement has elements of Baroque period writing in it, including a short fugal section based on the opening melody. The second movement, “Memorial”, is a slow and poignant movement written at a time when New Zealand was experiencing a number of tragedies – the Pike River mining tragedy and the Christchurch earthquakes. The final movement, “Hoe-Down”, is a complete contrast, being a purely fun and rhythmic piece of writing suggesting the music of the old time western USA.

The Necessary Rain (2012)

soprano solo, SATB, orchestra
This piece is the second work of mine which draws on the poetry of Bill Sewell (1951-2003), specifically his “Erebus” cycle. It follows on from “Breaking the Quiet” of 2008. Both works set texts relating to the crash of an Air New Zealand sight-seeing flight in the Antarctic on 28 November 1979. The ‘necessary rain’ of the title is the rain that always seems to accompany times of great loss and sadness. It “…does not discriminate but has a preference for death and death’s rituals”. The poem includes passing references to the Tangiwai rail tragedy (1953), and the sinking of the ferry Wahine (1968).

The Son of the Virgin (2011)

SA, piano
This text, originally in the Catalan dialect, is generally associated with Christmas. It tells of giving various gifts - things that would have been familiar to the writer of the text - to the infant Jesus: raisins, olives, figs, sweet honey etc. There is a metaphorical hint of the events of Easter in the last lines. “The Son of the Virgin” was written for a choir workshop with students of Ascham School (Sydney, Australia) when they visited St Mary’s College in Auckland as part of their tour to New Zealand in 2011.

Shine Out, Fair Sun (2011)

SATB, piano
The poem “Shine Out, Fair Sun” is generally deemed to be by an anonymous author, although it has also been credited to George Chapman (1559?-1634). It contrasts the heat and light of the sun with the winter landscape, calling on the sun to “…make this winter night our beauty’s Spring”. “Shine Out, Fair Sun” was written for Choralation (conductor: Rowan Johnston), the mixed-voice choir of Westlake Girls’ and Westlake Boys’ High Schools.

Something Told the Wild Geese (2011)

SATB, piano
A setting of the short poem by Rachel Lyman Field (1894-1942) which tells of the geese that, in spite of still seeing the golden fields of summer, can feel the urge to begin their winter migration. Something tells them that frost and snow are on the way and it is time to fly. Even though the summer sun is on their wings, there is “winter in their cry”.

Escape at Bedtime (2011)

SA, piano
From Robert Louis Stevenson’s collection “A Child’s Garden of Verses” this fantastical poem tells of a child’s impressions of nighttime and the “thousands of millions of stars” which appear to be chasing him or her. Even when packed off to bed, the sight of the stars remains in the child’s mind’s eye. Several star constellations are named in the poem. “Escape at Bedtime” was commissioned by Sydney Grammar School for the school’s music tour to New Zealand in 2011.

Song in Summer (2011)

SA, piano
A movement from "Down on teh Farm" setting a Ruth Dallas poem about the constantly changing colours of the flowers in a summer meadow.

The Shop of Dreams (2011)

SAB choir, piano
This cycle of pieces sets lullaby texts, although in a couple of instances I have taken this idea quite liberally. The cycle’s title comes from the first text, by American Mary Jane Carr, where it is imagined that a shop on a hill sells the dreams that we experience at night. The second text, by an unknown poet, addresses itself to the little fish in the ocean who can rest now that the boat’s crew is asleep and fishing is done for the day. One challenge with this cycle was to avoid it becoming terribly soporific! So the third text comes from one of my favourite American poets, Jack Prelutsky. If you dream of chickens,. there might be unexpected consequences! The fourth poem, an anonymous text from America, likens the baby’s bed to a boat sailing the skies - a not uncommon metaphor. The fifth text, again anonymous, is a lullaby describing the elements of the natural landscape in autumn. Each of the animals has its particular place to sleep but “…my baby's nest is her little bed”. The sixth text is by popular New Zealand poet and author Margaret Mahy. Again there is a dramatic change of mood. In Mahy’s poem the house is full of the noise and clatter one associates with a household full of children, yet baby is somehow managing to fall asleep amidst the “racket and rumpus”. The final text is by nineteenth century poet Christina Rossetti and returns to the familiar world of traditional lullabies. Here, the audience is also invited to join in the music, and the cycle ends gently and quietly! “The Shop of Dreams” was written for Pakuranga Choral Society for a concert conducted by the composer in May 2011.

Down on the Farm (2011)

SAB choir, piano
This short cycle sets five poems by New Zealand writers. The texts all deal with aspects of farming or typical farm landscapes. The first is a witty story of a rather vain and fussy cow called Belinda, who wanted to enter the cow beauty show. Arriving late, she had to be content with being given some money by the man at the gate, for her own manicure set and a mirror. The second text is a brief Ruth Dallas poem about the constantly changing colours of the flowers in a summer meadow. The third text is about a dog whose owner realises that a small garden was not where the animal desired to live - he wanted to roam the hills as a sheep dog. ‘Drought’, the fourth text, is a short poem describing the landscape during a hot dry spell of weather. The final text tells of beginning a new farm on land that has been let go to ragwort and fern. “Down on the Farm” was written for performance by Mercury Bay Community Choir (Whitianga) in a concert conducted by the composer in May 2011.