2016 NZ Composer Sessions - Resound films

SOUNZ is proud to bring you not one, not two, but three years of complete Resound film coverage from the 2016, 2017 and 2018 NZ Composer Sessions. Read on for this feast of New Zealand orchestral music, with works by John Elmsly, Richard Francis, Philip Norman, Natalie Hunt, Louise Webster, Patrick Shepherd, Jack Speirs, Tabea Squire, Nigel Keay, Louisa Nicklin, Andrew Perkins, Anthony Ritchie, Maria Grenfell, Reuben Jelleyman, Brad Jenkins, Alex Taylor, James Wade and Salina Fisher.  

ALEX TAYLOR and BEN HOADLEY introduce ‘Bassoon Concerto

We begin our season of Resound films and composer interviews from three years of the NZ Composer Sessions with Alex Taylor’s ‘Bassoon Concerto’.  But before we hear from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, here’s Alex and bassoonist Ben Hoadley discussing the work and a wide range of issues around composing for the bassoon. We even hear about the contraforte, which you can delve into more deeply with this excellent recent video from our friends at RNZ Concert – https://bit.ly/2I5WQIH.


ALEX TAYLOR: Bassoon Concerto

Alex Taylor’s ‘Bassoon Concerto’ was commissioned by the Auckland Chamber Orchestra, which premiered it under the baton of Peter Scholes in 2014 (https://bit.ly/2HQP4D4). The performance seen in this Resound film from the 2016 NZ Composer Sessions retains the work’s original bassoonist, the venerable Ben Hoadley, backed now by the Hamish McKeich-led New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. 

The composer writes, “I cannot speak for all listeners, but for me, the bassoon is one of the most personal of all instruments. It speaks not grandly or with perfect eloquence but with an immediacy and intimacy that is quite special.”  He continues, “The work consists of three slow movements interrupted by two tiny slivers of energetic activity, ruptures in a continuous, static texture. There is some kind of journey here, albeit simply expressed and slow in its unfolding. The music has ended up following its own course, offering not solutions or even reflections, but only a singular focus, a line, a channel. Therefore it has a certain kind of impermeability, and requires a deal of faith and patience in the single path, with all its bends and diversions.”


PATRICK SHEPHERD introduces Lithosphere (Movement II)

Patrick Shepherd discusses his Antarctica-inspired work ‘Lithosphere’ in this introduction made in 2016.


PATRICK SHEPHERD: Lithosphere (Movement II)

Christchurch composer Patrick Shepherd’s first symphony ‘Lithosphere’ follows on from an earlier Antarctic-based work, ‘Cryosphere’ (https://bit.ly/2UqQGcA). Instead of dealing with a world of ice, Lithosphere tunnels down further to a world consisting of rock.

In this Resound film, we hear the Hamish McKeich-conducted New Zealand Symphony Orchestra perform the symphony’s second movement (the first movement having been recorded at the 2010 NZSO-SOUNZ Readings, the predecessor to the NZ Composer Sessions).


BRAD JENKINS introduces ‘The Way Out Is Through

Brad Jenkins is a Wellington-based composer and sound designer, who works during the day as a Music Editor for Promethean Editions. In this Resound film he discusses his orchestral work ‘The Way Out is Through’, an “orchestral transcription of inharmonic spectra evolving through time, the sound source being a swell played on a 22-inch ride cymbal.”  For listeners new to the notion of spectralism (a movement in art music headed by the likes of Saariaho and Murail) Brad provides an excellent introduction.


BRAD JENKINS: The Way Out is Through

‘The Way Out Is Through’ is a work for orchestra by Brad Jenkins.  Brad writes, “I took influence from compositional techniques found in spectral music, which in this instance involved using computer analysis of the timbral quality of a particular sound source (here I analysed a swell played on a 22” ride cymbal) to derive a sequence of chords to be “moved through” during the work. I was inspired by the idea of getting inside of a noise-like sound devoid of ordered, ratio-based overtones and using orchestral colours to communicate its dominant inner frequencies. The pitches that make up this work’s harmonic material are the most dominant frequencies within the cymbal’s shifting harmonic spectra during the swell.”



Salina Fisher’s ‘Rainphase’ has enjoyed significant success since its concert debut with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra in 2015. The Hamish McKeich-conducted performance by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra seen in this Resound film from the 2016 NZ Composer Sessions was followed by a performance by the Saint Louis Youth Symphony and a further NZSO performance conducted by Edo de Waart. The Auckland Philharmonia played the work at its “A Woman’s Place” Suffrage 125 event last November (Resound film of that is forthcoming) and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra will bring it to audiences in Te Waipounamu this June.

But that’s not all. This SOUNZ Contemporary Award-winning work is scheduled for performances by the Sewanee Symphony, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and the National Symphony Orchestra (Washington) through in to 2020.


JAMES WADE: Te Matua Ngahere

James Wade was a gentle and thoughtful presence at the 2016 NZ Composer Sessions, a composer from Australia with strong family links to New Zealand. We were greatly saddened to learn of James’s passing in 2017 and we are pleased to be able to bring you his ‘Te Matua Ngahere’ in this Resound film. Of the work James wrote:

“‘Te Matua Ngahere ‘(The Father of the Forest) takes its name from the ancient Kauri tree located in Waipoua Forest, Northland, New Zealand. The music is a journey to meet with the great tree, drawing on two visits made to the Waipoua Forest in addition to many other natural environments. ‘Te Matua Ngahere’ received its premiere performance in 2006 by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra conducted by Brett Dean.”