A landscape prelude for piano

Arapātiki was commissioned by Stephen De Pledge with funding from Creative New Zealand. It is one of 12 landscape preludes by New Zealand composers that he commissioned and premiered at the New Zealand Festival in 2008.

About the work

Arapātiki translates as ‘the path of the flounder’ and is the old name of the sandflats in front of my house at Harwood, on the Otago Peninsula.

The piece has to do with the advance and retreat of the tide across the flats, where many species of sea and water birds spend much of their day — an ever-varying waterscape. The opening flourish is based on the sound of the korimako or bellbird.

Kenneth Young recorded an introduction to all the landscape preludes for SOUNZ’s Resound project.

Landscape Preludes: introduction — RNZ

Stephen de Pledge talks about the project to SOUNZ.

The Landscape Preludes — Youtube

Scores and recordings

Buy or borrow the score and CDs from SOUNZ.

Arapātiki — SOUNZ

Arapātiki has been released on 3 CDs, each recording by a different pianist.

Shadows crossing water — CD

Landscape Preludes — CD

Arapātiki — CD

Hear and watch Stephen de Pledge give the premiere of the work in 2008.

Arapātiki — video

Arapātiki — audio

Central Landscapes

Piano, Teaching works

5 pieces for piano

About the work

I wrote this set of pieces, for pianists of intermediate ability, during 2009 while I was living in Alexandra in Central Otago as artist-in-residence for the Henderson Arts Trust.

Barbara Henderson, who lived in the Plischke-designed house before it became an artist’s residence, would visit her studio in the garden most weeks. So I wrote these pieces for her birthday, and they were played by my sister Joyce at Central Stories in Alexandra at Barbara’s birthday celebration.

There are 5 movements, which can be played separately or in this order:

  • Hoar frost with fire siren
  • Taking a line for a walk
  • Landscape with quail
  • Outlines through rising mist, and
  • River talk.

Central Landscapes is dedicated to Barbara Henderson.

I subsequently arranged the pieces for the Central Regional Otago Orchestra.

Central Landscapes for chamber orchestra

Scores and recordings

All 5 pieces were published by the Sunrise Music Trust in Take Flight — music from New Zealand for intermediate pianists. Gillian Bibby recorded the pieces for a CD that accompanies the book.

Take flight — publication

Fantasia on three notes


Fantasia on three notes was my first commission, requested by New Zealand pianist Tessa Birnie. She gave its first performance for Radio Turkey in 1967.

About the work

When I was writing Fantasia on three notes, I had begun studying with Peter Maxwell Davies in Adelaide, and revelled in discovering ways to extend and control my expanding technique, resulting in a technically difficult piece.

Emma Carlé writes:

‘The title refers not so much to free fantasy but to the imagination required to create music from minimal material — in this case, the opening 3-note motive. The work is in 3 sections, corresponding to these notes, and the fabric of the entire piece is generated from them. There are patterns that emerge within sections, as well as those spanning the whole work, trills and tempo changes included.

Because of the inherent symmetry of the generated material, with layers building up both forwards and backwards, the composer’s original intention was to make a palindromic structure, but it became instead, a through-composed work with coda.’

Scores and recordings

The score was published by Waiteata Music Press in 2001.

Fantasia on three notes — publication

Waiteata also released a recording in their CD series.

Waiteata Composer Portrait — CD

Five bagatelles


For piano

Five Bagatelles was commissioned by Sally Mays with assistance from the Queen Elizabeth II Arts Council and the New Zealand Composers Foundation. She gave the first performance on 18 May 1987.

Score and recording

Buy or borrow the score from SOUNZ.

Five bagatelles — SOUNZ

Listen to an RNZ Concert recording of Sally Mays’ premiere performance.

Five bagatelles — audio

Four short pieces


For piano

Four Short Pieces were commissioned for Allen’s Publishing for their Australian Bicentennial Anthology of piano music.

About the work

The pieces perhaps suggest nature images, but the only one that was a reaction to something specific is the last, which was suggested by watching and hearing a beck in spate (or flooded stream) on the west coast of Scotland.

There are 4 movements:
II. Sensitively
III. With Energy
IV. Fiercely.


Four short pieces were published in 1988 by Allens but the album is long out of print.

Australian Bicentennial Anthology — publication


Piano, Teaching works

3 pieces for piano

These short pieces are suitable for intermediate performers and were written while I was a student at the University of Sydney.


Contact me if you are interested in seeing the score.