Solo Instrument

Three Improvisations for solo oboe (1963) 8 minutes (SOUNZ)


I wrote these three 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, given by Diana Craig in Katoomba.

Karakia (1964) - 6 minutes (available from composer)


Three very short pieces suitable for intermediate performers, written while I was a student at the University of Sydney.

Fantasia on Three Notes (1966) - 12 minutes (Wai-te-ata Music Press)


This was my first commission, requested by Tessa Birnie, who gave its first performance for Radio Turkey in 1967.

I had begun studying with Peter Maxwell Davies in Adelaide, when I was writing it, and revelled in discovering ways to extend and control my expanding technique, resulting in a technically difficult piece. Emma Carlé writes of the Fantasia.

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 three-note motive. The work is in three 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. (Emma Carlé).

La cadenza sia corta (1974) - 12 minutes (Price Milburn Music)


La cadenza sia corta was commissioned by Stephen Pruslin, who gave its first performance in London's Purcell Room in 1974. The title is Beethoven's direction to the soloist – let the cadenza be short – near the end of his Fourth Piano Concerto. In La cadenza sia corta, it refers to the short, cadenza-like sections which interrupt the main argument (based on a well-disguised mensural canon, with sections for left hand and right hand alone) and finally fuse with it in the coda.

Voices of Tane (1976) - 8 minutes (Price Milburn Music)


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Voices of Tane was the first piece I wrote on my return to New Zealand after nine years in Europe. A series of seven short piano pieces, written with intermediate performers in mind, was written for my godson, Kit Boyes.

Tane is the Māori god of forests, and the trees, plants, birds and other creatures who live there. There is little to say about the pieces themselves except that the last repeats the first, the third has to do with birdsong, the fifth with wind, and the sixth consists of nine ideas that the pianist plays in whatever sequence she or he wishes.

Ricercare (1976) - 16 minutes (score available from composer)


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Three very short pieces suitable for intermediate performers, written while I was a student at the University of Sydney.

Commissioned by Philip Clark

First performance: Philip Clark, Maidment Theatre, Auckland 1976

Programme Note to come.

For Timothy (1979) (SOUNZ)


Written in 1979, while I was living in Northumberland to celebrate the bar mitzvah of Timothy Fox. For Timothy is in four short movements. The two middle movements are based on two folksongs – Binnorie, O Binnorie, a Scottish song dating from the 1650s and a Northumbrian ballad, Buy Brooms, Buzzems. These are preceded by a prelude which is repeated as a postlude.

Programme Note to come.

Tamatea Tutahi (1980) 12 minutes


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Commissioned by Sally Mays with funding from APRA/NZ Arts Council.

Written while composer-in-residence for Northern Arts (U.K.)

First performance: Radio Theatre, Auckland, 1980.

Programme Note to come.

Lullaby for Matthew (1981) - 4 minutes (SOUNZ First XV)


I wrote this lullaby to celebrate the birth of my nephew, Matthew, and it is dedicated to my sister Joyce and Matthew.

Five Bagatelles (1986)


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Programme Note to come.

Four pieces (1988) - 8 minutes (Albert) (SOUNZ)


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I wrote this piece in 1992, in response to a commission, funded by the Performing Arts Board of the Australia Council, from the Danish-born Australian-based cellist, Georg Pedersen, who gave its first performance in Sydney in 1993. Matuku moana is the Māori name of the white-faced heron, and the piece was mostly composed in Sydney while I was receiving treatment for breast cancer. I had a large wooden sculpture of a heron in my room, and I completed the work in New Zealand in an environment where herons fed in the mudflats outside my house. The Journey of Matuku Moana is based on the idea of the double, where the initial ideas are recycled and condensed, and the call of the Australian currawong and the New Zealand korimako (bellbird) recur during the piece.

Korimako (1996) - 1 minute (Forsythe)


After the outstanding English soprano Tracey Chadwell died at far too young an age, a number of composers wrote short tribute pieces for a concert that celebrated her life. This piece was my contribution. The performer was John Turner; the korimako is the New Zealand bellbird.

Beloved (1997) - 8 minutes (SOUNZ)


Beloved... for solo violin was written as a birthday celebration for Australian violinist David Saffir, commissioned by his wife Anna dell'Oso. The first performance was given in Sydney by David Saffir.

Bright Silence (2001) - 8 minutes (Wai-te-ata Music Press Music Press)


Bright Silence, for solo violin, is an evocation of Central Otago, the high plateau between the Southern Alps and the coastal plains in the South Island of New Zealand. The area is treeless, rocky, sparsely populated, sometimes snow-covered, and the piece reflects the sounds, silences and ghosts of the area. I wrote it while I was composer-in-residence with the Auckland Philharmonia, as the competition piece for the inaugural Michael Hill World Violin Competition, held at Queenstown, New Zealand, where I heard 18 very different performances. The competition was won by Joseph Lin, and the piece is dedicated to Michael Hill.

Arapātiki (2003) - 6 minutes (SOUNZ)


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To watch video, click here

Arapātiki translates (from the Māori language) 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.

Arapātiki was commissioned by Stephen D.e Pledge and funded by Creative New Zealand; it is one of twelve landscape preludes by New Zealand composers.

Ngā Hā o Neherā (2004) - 16 minutes


Ngā Hā o Neherā, which translates from the Māori language as “a breath from the past” is a five- movement suite, written after a taonga pūoro wananga at Ohinemutu on the shores of Lake Rotorua. The first movement is Ngā Hā o Neherā, (a breath from the past), the second puna wera, which suggests the continual welling up of hot water from a spring at the edge of the lake, and the third, Mokoia, suggests the soundscape of Mokoia Island which, as well as being a major historical site, is also a bird sanctuary. The fourth movement, He pūrakau recounts a folk story - not a specific tale, but suggesting the elements of all strong stories, and the last movement, Ohinemutu, locates the piece in place, and reflects on the story of Hinetekakara, ancestress of the Te Arawa people, whose untimely death gave the place its name.

Ben Hoadley commissioned Ngā Hā o Neherā with funding from the Becroft Trust.

Ascot Suite (2006) - 2 minutes


Ascot Suite was written in the form of a mini-suite to celebrate the wedding of Charlotte Wilson and Paul Mann. It is part of a two-movement work, with the other movement, Two Pages, contributed by Lyell Cresswell. The pieces were played at the wedding breakfast in Christchurch by Gillian Ansell in January, 2007.

Fragments from Roxburgh (2007) - 2 minutes


I wrote this short piece to celebrate Elizabeth Kerr’s sixtieth birthday, and Gillian Ansell played it at a party April 2008, to mark the occasion.

Pukeko, Sad song on a rainy day, Taniwha (2007) - 4 minutes (Sunrise Music Trust)


These three pieces, written for beginning pianists, were commissioned by the Wellington Piano Group for their first album of music by New Zealand composers.

Jesus falls for the third time (2008) - 3 minutes (SOUNZ)

bass clarinet

In 2008, St Heliers Presbyterian Church commissioned artists and composers to create an Easter exhibition and performance based on the Stations of the Cross. My contribution, Jesus falls for the third time, was played by Anna McGregor.

Central Landscapes (2009) - 6 minutes (Sunrise Music Trust)


I wrote this set of pieces, for pianists of intermediate ability, 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 at Central Stories in Alexandra at her birthday celebration by my sister Joyce. There are five movements - Hoar frost with fire siren, Taking a line for a walk, Landscape with quail, Outlines through rising mist, and River talk.

The pieces are dedicated to Barbara Henderson,

A series of five piano pieces were written by previous winners of the SOUNZ Contemporary award for a silent auction which was a fund-raiser for The New Zealand Music Information Centre. Helen Kominik, who won the auction for my piece, wanted a piano piece which she dedicated to her grandchildren, Kate and Tom Fraser. Tūmanako, which means 'hope' in the Māori language, was the name of the house in which Helen grew up. I wrote the piece shortly after I'd been travelling by car through Yunnan, and made a link between the journey through a landscape where you know nothing beyond the immediate surroundings, and moving through the landscape of the score. Diedre Irons gave the first performance at The New Zealand International Piano Festival, 8 April 2011.

Programme Note to come.

Song without words for Kai (2010) - 3 minutes (SOUNZ)


Kai is the son of Ryoko Tabuchi and Cameron Mewburn, and this short piece was written to celebrate his birth.

Mata-au (2010) - 13 minutes (SOUNZ)


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Mata-au is the original name of Central Otago's Clutha river, which I saw from the Plischke house in Alexandra when I was artist-in-residence for the Henderson Arts Trust in 2009-2010. Mata-au refers to the to the river's characteristic whirlpools, caused by layered currents moving at different speeds, which resemble facial moko, or the wake of a giant waka, and the piece has its origins in Māori chant. Anna McGregor has prepared a score detailing fingerings for the extended techniques.

Robert Carew commissioned the piece for Anna McGregor to play, to celebrate his partner Scilla Askew's contribution to SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music.

Bougainvillea (2012) - 7 minutes (available from the composer)


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 the one-movement piece is dedicated to her.

Song Without Words (2014) – 2 minutes

versions for violin, viola or cello

Song without words was written to mark the occasion of Helen Young's departure from Wellington to live in Auckland. Helen was always a champion of New Zealand music during her years at Radio New Zealand.

The piece has been written to be played by violin, viola or cello; a score exists for each of the three instruments.

The first performance was given by cellist Rolf Gjelsten in Wellington on February 2nd, 2014 at a private function.