Chamber orchestra or large ensemble

Central landscapes

Chamber orchestra or large ensemble

For chamber orchestra

The first performance of Central landscapes was given by the Central Otago Regional Orchestra (CORO), conducted by Aart Brusse in Cromwell, Central Otago on 12 December 2009.

About the work

I had written a set of pieces for piano to celebrate the birthday of Barbara Henderson while I was living in Alexandra in Central Otago as artist-in-residence for the Henderson Arts Trust, and subsequently arranged them for CORO, which at the time was low in numbers, so the scoring was rather idiosyncratic — an extravagance of flutes, no violas, and so on.

There are 5 movements, based on surroundings of the property where I lived for over a year — Hoar frost with fire siren, Taking a line for a walk, Landscape with quail, Outlines through rising mist, and River talk.

Central landscapes for piano


After the first performance I rearranged the score for a more traditional ensemble, but am happy that parts be reassigned — for example, Aart Brusse rearranged some of the score to suit CORO.

Central landscapes is scored for 2 piccolos, 2 flutes, oboe, 2 clarinets, bassoon, timpani, xylophone and strings.


Buy or borrow the score, or hire the parts from SOUNZ.

Central landscapes — SOUNZ


Chamber orchestra or large ensemble

For chamber orchestra

Hoata was written for the Northern Sinfonia, who, conducted by David Haslam, gave the first performance during the 1980 Newcastle Festival.

About the work

I wrote Hoata, named for the Māori phase of the moon when the new moon is barely apparent, while I was living on the Northumbrian moors north of Hexham and while I was composer-in-residence for Northern Arts and a Fellow of Newcastle University. It was a cold winter, and the snow around the small remote cottage, which was not well insulated, lay on the ground for 4 months as blizzard followed blizzard, and something of the isolation and the environment seems to have got into the piece.

Hoata consists of sections built up in a mosaic-like manner, separated by freer sections, which may be cadenzas, or have a degree of improvisation; there is at times perhaps a suggestion of birdsong.


Hoata is scored for: 121(+bass clarinet)2; 2000; timpani and strings.


Buy or borrow the score, or hire the parts from SOUNZ.

Hoata — SOUNZ


Chamber orchestra or large ensemble

Concerto for chamber orchestra and solo harp

Karohirohi was commissioned by the NZSO, and is dedicated to harpist, Carolyn Mills who gave the first performance with the NZSO conducted by Alexander Lazarev in the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington on 21 June 2006.

About the work

Karohirohi — which means iridescent, shimmering, the sparkling of light on water — is the point of arrival rather than of departure in this piece.

Written for the forces of a classical symphony, Karohirohi draws on characteristics of classical form, and of classical concerto form, not so much in terms of exposition, development and recapitulation, nor in terms of the syntactical sentence and period structure (although these aspects are doubtless present), but more in the sense of classical style as it was perceived in the 18th century. At that time there was a gradual rather than an abrupt change away from the characteristics of Baroque music, and classical masterpieces drew on and seamlessly combined a variety of influences. In the background were the dance forms of the Baroque, but on to these were mapped remnants of older styles — learned style, such as fugue and imitation, styles from different genres, or forms of expression, such as brilliant or virtuoso style, singing style, or sensibility style, and even imitative styles, such as military fanfares and hunting calls.

Karohirohi, to my ears, like much music written today, is similarly eclectic, drawing on a range of references appropriate to this time and place. Its single movement incorporates various aspects of 3-movement concerto form, before dissipating in a coda.


Karohirohi is scored for: 2 (1+picc)222; 2200; timpani, strings, and solo harp.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Karohirohi — SOUNZ

Karohirohi is available on CD and can be bought from all good CD stores.

Alice — CD

RNZ Concert recorded Karohirohi in 2006.

Karohirohi — audio

Napier’s Bones

Chamber orchestra or large ensemble

For 24 percussionists and improvising pianist

Napier’s Bones was commissioned by Judy Bailey and funded by the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council. The first performance was given by Judy Bailey and the Sydney Percussion Ensemble conducted by Graeme Leak at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music in 1990.

About the work

I wrote Napier’s Bones to involve the improvising talents of Sydney-based pianist Judy Bailey, who, like me, grew up in Whangarei, New Zealand, and as a companion piece to Charles Wuorinen’s Percussion Symphony.

The title has many resonances, but the Napier referred to is Sir John Napier, the inventor of logarithms, and Napier’s bones in Africa were strips of ebony and ivory used for calculating, suggesting to me both rhythmic complexity and the layout of a keyboard.

The piano part is almost entirely improvised, although the pianist is given basic material to work with. There are various forms of interaction with the ensemble for the soloist — call and response, elaboration of harmonic patterns, decoration of percussion textures, improvised duets with percussion instruments, free solo improvisation. The details will vary greatly from performance to performance, although the shape of the piece, which encompasses many speeds, moods and textures in its single movement, remains constant.


There is also a later version for 6 percussionists and improvising pianist.

Napier’s Bones

Buy or borrow the score and parts from the Australian Music Centre.

Napier’s Bones — AMC


Chamber orchestra or large ensemble, Choral music, Collaborations

For voices, brass, woodwind and percussion

The first performance of Passio was given by The Tudor Consort conducted by Alistair Carey and the Royal Air Force Band conducted by Owen Clarke, on 2 June 2006 at the Great Hall, Massey University, Wellington. The soloists were Alistair Carey (Evangelist), Brian Hesketh (Christus) and Madeleine Pierard (Spiritus).

About the work

Conceived by composer and close friend Jack Body, Passio is a re-contextualised version of Richard Davy’s (c.1465-1538) Passio Domini Nostri Jesu Christe.

Jack invited composers associated with the New Zealand School of Music — David Farquhar, Ross Harris, Michael Norris, Lissa Meridan and me — to work on a movement of the work each. My contribution was the Gethsemane narrative.

The premiere was memorable as the audience was encouraged to walk around the performance area during the performance which took place in the large and resonant Great Hall at Massey University. The work was reconstructed for the 2017 Auckland Festival.


There is an audio recording of the first performance, and a video of a performance at the Auckland Festival in 2017.

Passio — audio

Passio — video


William Dart  and Alex Taylor wrote reviews of the Auckland Festival performance.

Stroll through Passio — New Zealand Herald

What would Jack do? A review of Passio — The Pantograph Punch


Carla van Zon, Director of the Auckland Festival, and I were interviewed when the Auckland Festival performance was in preparation.

In pursuit of Passio — interview

Te tangi e apakura

Chamber orchestra or large ensemble

One movement work for string orchestra

The first performance of Te tangi e apakura was given by the New Zealand Sinfonia conducted by Stephen Estall at St Johns Smith Square, London on 5 October 1976.

About the work

When I was living in London in the 1970s, there was a couple, Hans and Elsbeth Juda, who were wonderful arts patrons, and they were very kind to me.

This piece, which suggests the lamentation of Apakura, (also a word meaning lamentation) was written after Hans died in 1974. Coincidentally the first performance took place on the first anniversary of his death — the piece is dedicated to his memory.


Buy or borrow the score from the Australian Music Centre.

Te tangi e apakura — AMC