1963 Music

Three improvisations for solo oboe

Solo instrument

I wrote these 3 short pieces — which are not really improvisations — while I was an undergraduate at Victoria University of Wellington. They waited 27 years for their first performance which was given by Diana Craig in Katoomba, Australia.

Scores and recordings

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Three improvisations — SOUNZ

A Rattle CD with a performance by Vilém Veverka was released in 2018.

Shadows crossing water — CD

RNZ Concert recorded the work in 2012.

Three improvisations — audio

Lord’s Prayer

Choral music

For voices, with or without piano accompaniment

This setting of the Lord’s Prayer was written for and sung at Whangarei Girls’ High School assemblies.


Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ soon.

Missa Brevis

Choral music

For SATB choir

Text of Latin mass

The first complete performance of Missa Brevis was given by the Leonine Consort in Sydney in 1965.

About the work

I have always had an affinity with the music of the 16th century. For 3 years I sang in Peter Godfrey’s choir at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Auckland, where the repertoire included Byrd’s 4-part mass. This experience meant that the writing of this work came naturally.

Written while I was studying in Wellington, it was one of the first of my works that I heard performed — the Victoria University Choir conducted by Robert Oliver sang selected movements. Its first complete performance — in an otherwise ‘all Bach’ concert given by the Leonine Consort — was broadcast on television.

Scores and recordings

The score was first published by Musica Dei Gloriae Wellington in 1978, but is now out of print. In 1996 it was re-published by Waiteata Music Press.

Missa Brevis — publication

Missa Brevis was released on a Waiteata Music Press CD of my works.

Composer portrait: Gillian Whitehead — CD

RNZ Concert recorded Missa Brevis in 2011.

Missa Brevis — audio


‘Gillian Whitehead’s Missa Brevis easily rose to the challenge of justifying its presence, [showing] rare understanding of how to write for concerted voices; everything she calculated on paper worked in practice in this tenderly beautiful performance’.

— Roger Covell, Sydney Morning Herald, 1965