In this series, we present our new composers. We are proud to introduce Rosa Elliott.
I’m a composer currently studying at the University of Auckland. I grew up in Christchurch and had the good fortunate to attend a local school that had an excellent music programme. While I was involved in a lot of music making at school, I never really imagined myself pursuing music at tertiary level.
This all changed, however, when I won the SOUNZ Composition Competition for the Big Sing in my final year of school. The experience of my piece, ‘Requiem’, being performed in the Michael Fowler Centre was an experience I will never forget. There was something quite magical about a piece I had written for a school assignment suddenly taking on a life of its own, and impacting those who heard it in a way I couldn’t have predicted.
Since then I have completed my BMus in Composition at the University of Canterbury, and am now pursuing further study in composition in Auckland. I have always been especially drawn to writing for voice and have been lucky to write works for several choirs around New Zealand. I was recently selected for the NZ Composer Recording sessions for my three songs for orchestra with soprano and baritone soloists, which I look forward to hearing the NZSO play later this year.
I’m currently enjoying the freedom that study allows me to experiment with the works I write and challenge the styles I tend to intuitively write in. That being said, my priority as a composer is always to ‘say something,’ to impact my audience emotionally, and offer them something of meaning to chew on. This is a big motivation for me when writing, and I try to keep it at the forefront of my mind when bogged down by the nitty-gritty details of a piece.
‘Cry the Wounded Land’ is a piece I wrote for NZSSC last year in collaboration with Hinekoia Tomlinson. It is a piece that holds a lot of meaning to me, as it responds to the mosque shootings that took place in Christchurch on the 15th of March, 2019. It is performed here by the NZSSC with conductor Sue Densem and soloist Lesieli Katoa.
‘Voices of the Air’ was written for the NZTrio Composition Competition in 2017. The piece is based upon Katherine Mansfield’s poem by the same. I was fortunate to be one of the winners of this competition and to have NZTrio perform it in Auckland. You can view a recording here.
‘Out of Reach’ is a work that I originally wrote for Supertonic as an SATB setting. This work was one of three pieces based upon poetry by Mary Ann Evans, known by her pseudonym as George Eliot. This work is based upon her poem, ‘I Am Lonely’. I was fortunate to meet the conductor of Bowling Green State University Choir, Emily Pence Brown, at a choral summer school at Oxford University, and she asked me to arrange the work for her women’s choir. This is their performance, with pianist Michael Gartz and soloist Tess Marjanovic.
I’m currently working on a song cycle for mezzo-soprano, piano and percussion as part of my Honours portfolio. The song cycle is comprised of a collection of quotes from Kate Sheppard, providing some insight into her campaign for women’s rights. It includes a typewriter as the main percussion instrument!
Alongside that I’m working away at a piece for live electronics and horn, to be performed by David Kay. It explores the ‘animal origins’ of the horn and its evolution into an instrument associated with war and hunting.
I’m also very excited to have been chosen for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra’s young composer-in-residence programme for 2021, and I have begun brainstorming some ideas for my first commission with them in January next year.
You can contact me or peruse more of my music through my website.