2012 Music

No stars, not even clouds

Chamber ensemble (2-7 players)

For string quartet

No stars, not even clouds was commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand for the Enso Quartet. The work is dedicated to them and was premiered by them in Christchurch on 23 October 2012.

About the work

I wrote No stars, not even clouds at a time when several friends of mine were seriously ill, and at the forefront of my mind. Juanita Ketchel, who lived in Dunedin, was both diagnosed with cancer and died within the short time-frame in which the piece was written. She had a profound interest in the arts, and was frequently seen at concerts. The title No stars, not even clouds came from a story she wrote some years ago. The piece is written to her memory.

The piece draws on traditional quartet forms, opening with a phrase which I realised only retrospectively echoes the same shape and rhythm that pervades Tōrua, written for violin and piano in the immediate aftermath of the February 2011 earthquake in Christchurch. Both pieces draw on the Otago accent of the korimako or bellbirds that seem to sing vociferously every time I sit down to write.

No stars, not even clouds is written in a single movement, but has elements of a tripartite structure within it.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

No stars, not even clouds — SOUNZ

A recording, released by Rattle CDs, can be bought from SOUNZ and all good record stores.

Shadows crossing water — CD

RNZ Concert recorded a performance by the Enso quartet.

No stars, not even clouds — audio


Solo instrument

For flute

The first performance of Bougainvillea was given by Bridget Douglas in the Queenstown Memorial Centre in the Festival Artists Concert during the Whakatipu Music Festival on 16 April 2022.

About the work

The writer, Lloyd Jones, organised an auction to raise funds to build and stock a library in Bougainville, and I volunteered a piece for solo instrument as one of the lots. The flautist Rebecca Steel won the bid, and Bougainvillea, a 1-movement piece, is dedicated to her.

Score and recording

Contact me to get a copy of the score.


Bougainvillea was recorded at the Whakatipu Music Festival.

Bougainvillea — video


Solo voice

For soprano and harp

Text by Rachel Bush

Cicadas was commissioned by harpist Helen Webby, with funding from Creative New Zealand. She, together with Pepe Becker (soprano) gave the first performances.

About the work

Cicadas was written for Helen Webby’s CD Pluck, for which she commissioned new harp works by 9 New Zealand composers.

The text is taken from the poem of the same name by Rachel Bush, with her kind permission, and was published in her collection Nice Pretty Things, published by Victoria University Press in 2011.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score and recording from SOUNZ.

Cicadas — SOUNZ

Pluck — CD