SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music is delighted to announce that Wellington-based collective Plan 9 (David Donaldson, Janet Roddick and Steve Roche) has won the 2021 SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha with The Bewilderness for altered string quartet and voices.

David Donaldson from Plan 9 says, “We are thrilled to have won the 2021 SOUNZ Contemporary Award Te Tohu Auaha! After working together for over 30 years Janet, Steve and I wanted to challenge ourselves creatively and the result is The Bewilderness. Awarding this to Plan 9 acknowledges the value of collaboration in music and the variety that exists in contemporary music today. We are most grateful to the extraordinary, generous musicians who played with us: Ruby Solly, Tristan Carter and Jonny Marks.”

Plan 9 was presented with the Award at the 2021 APRA Silver Scroll Awards held online on Thursday 24 March (2022).

SOUNZ Chief Executive Diana Marsh says, “The winning work ‘The Bewilderness’ demonstrates the high quality of New Zealand composition which the SOUNZ Contemporary Award has been recognising for more than two decades. Plan 9’s hugely innovative composition is both the first non-scored work and the first work by a composing collective to be recognised for the award, and seems very timely in a world collectively facing the COVID-19 pandemic. Congratulations David, Janet and Steve!”

The SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha, now in its 25th year, recognises New Zealand compositions demonstrating outstanding levels of creativity and inspiration and has been presented in collaboration with APRA AMCOS NZ since 1998.

This was Plan 9’s first nomination for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha. The Wellington-based collective (David Donaldson, Janet Roddick and Steve Roche), have composed music for an impressive array of film, television, theatrical and installation projects since 1995.

The Bewilderness is a composition loosely based on the unsettling experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic — from the sudden shock, through the stages of drama and disruption, to periods of peace and introspection. Written for altered string quartet and voices, The Bewilderness was composed with the support of Creative New Zealand.

Plan 9 say, “Although working full time as composers, we work predominantly in the area of screen music usually working to an outside brief.  Creating The Bewilderness gave us a chance to break away from those outside limitations, to challenge ourselves and compose and experiment in ways we wouldn’t usually have time or headspace for.”

The winning work was selected, through an anonymous process, by a judging panel of independent industry representatives including an international judge Ann Cleare (Ireland) and New Zealanders Ashley Brown, Leonie Holmes, Mark Menzies and Philip Brownlee. This year, 48 works were entered by 36 composers, demonstrating the high quality of New Zealand composition through compelling, fascinating works representative of a broad range of styles.