1981 Music


Voice and instrumental ensemble

For soprano, clarinet and piano

Whakatau-kī translated from Māori by Margaret Orbell

Pao was commissioned by the Northumberland-based Syrinx Trio, with financial assistance from Northern Arts. They gave the first performance in Newcastle-upon-Tyne in 1981.

About the work

Pao is the name given by Māori to 2-lined epigrammatic songs which comment on a wide range of subjects such as love, war, politics or religion, often topical, often improvised.

Most of the songs set here were collected in 1864 from Māori prisoners captured during the land wars in the Waikato area south of Auckland. The couplets are not connected in any way except for the central group, set for unaccompanied voice, concerning Pikeri, a character famous at the time for his escapades evading the police; in this instance, enforced separation during a love affair is charted.

The central section, Pikeri can be performed separately.


About the text

Margaret Orbell’s English translations of these pao, published in her Māori Poetry, an introductory anthology (Heinemann, 1978), are used with her kind permission.


Pikeri  was published in Kowhai an album of songs by New Zealand women composers. It is now out of print.

Kowhai — publication

Buy or borrow the score of Pao from SOUNZ.



Solo voice

For solo voice

Whakatau-kī translated from Māori by Margaret Orbell

About the work

Pikeri is the middle section of a larger work, Pao for soprano, clarinet and piano, but can stand alone.


Scores and recording

Pikeri was published in 1993 in Kowhai, an album of songs by New Zealand women composers in celebration of 100 years of women’s suffrage. This is now out of print.

Buy or borrow the scores of Pao and Pikeri, or borrow Kowhai, from SOUNZ. They also have audio of a performance of Pikeri.

Pikeri — SOUNZ

RNZ Concert recorded Pikeri in 1995.

Pikeri — audio


Solo voice, Dance

For mezzo-soprano and organ

Text: Latin

Requiem was to have been performed in 5 cathedrals around Britain during the summer of 1982 with a company of 5 dancers. The dance component was cancelled and so the work received a performance by Elizabeth Lamb (mezzo) only in Carlisle Cathedral.

About the work

Requiem was originally intended for 5 dancers and organ — the soprano was added at my request. I initially delayed beginning work on the piece, since my sister was expecting a baby, and a requiem did not seem an appropriate preoccupation. The successful birth was however followed by 2 close family deaths and it was these which provided me with the emotional impetus to proceed with the composition.

It was subsequently presented with a solo dancer, Bronwyn Judge, at the 1987 Sonic Circus in Wellington. The singer on that occasion was Glenys Taylor and the organist Douglas Mews. It has been performed several times since and recorded.

Scores and recordings

Requiem was published by Waiteata Music Press in 2001.

Requiem — publication

Waiteata Composer Portrait — CD

Lullaby for Matthew

Piano, Teaching works

For piano

I wrote this lullaby to celebrate the birth of my nephew, Matthew, and it is dedicated to my sister Joyce, and Matthew. It was premiered by pianist, David Guerin in Germany in 1982.

About the work

This work for solo piano has been described by Fred Blanks of the Sydney Morning Herald as ‘a haunting gem for a modern baby.’

In Music in New Zealand Gillian Bibby wrote, ‘In a simple arch structure of 8-bar phrases, [Lullaby for Matthew] progresses in variations from naive simplicity to what could almost amount to a nightmare in the centre, then back to slumbering innocence once again.’

Lullaby for Matthew is suitable for intermediate pianists, about Grade 5.

Scores and recordings

Lullaby for Matthew was published by SOUNZ in First XV, an album of piano works for intermediate pianists. This is now out of print.

First XV — publication

You can buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Lullaby for Matthew — SOUNZ

The work was recorded by Dan Poynton in 1997 on an award-winning CD.

You hit him he cry out — CD

SOUNZ released a promotional recording in 1996, and Burnside High School included it in a CD of works suitable for Royal Schools piano exams.

SOUNZfine Volume 1 — CD

New Zealand colours: alternative piano works for Royal Schools music exams — CD

This work has also been the subject of some education resources.

Lullaby for Matthew: course for NCEA Level 1 — recording