Honorary doctorate for acclaimed composer
Internationally acclaimed New Zealand composer Gillian
Karawe Whitehead is to receive an honorary doctorate from
Ms Whitehead will receive an honorary Doctor of Music degree at the University's graduation ceremonies later this year.
Born in Hamilton, Ms Whitehead studied at Auckland University before graduating from Victoria University with an Honours degree in Music in 1964. She then studied composition at the University of Sydney where she graduated with a Master of Music degree in 1966 before moving to Britain where she worked as a composer.
In 1981, she returned to Australasia to join the staff of the Composition School at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and was for four years Head of Composition before taking early retirement in 1996. She now divides her time as a free-lance composer between Sydney and Dunedin.
In 1999, her opera, Outrageous Fortune, won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award and she was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. In 2000, she became one of the inaugural Artist Laureates of the New Zealand Arts Foundation. During 2000 and 2001 she was Composer in Residence at the Auckland Philharmonia. In 2001, her piece, The Improbable Ordered Dance, won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award.
Ms Whitehead, who is the President of the Composers' Association of New Zealand, has written a wide range of music including works for solo, chamber, choral, orchestral and operatic forces, most of them direct commissions from performers and funding organisations. A number of her works have been recorded for commercial release. Ms Whitehead is of Ngâi te Rangi and Tuhoe descent and her heritage and the New Zealand landscape are strong influences on her work.
She has also remained in contact with Victoria, being a frequent guest contributor to composition workshops, and encouraging and supporting the development of composition students at the University by, among other things, acting as an external examiner.
Victoria University Vice-Chancellor Professor Stuart McCutcheon said the honorary doctorate was recognition of Ms Whitehead's contribution to music both in New Zealand and internationally.
"We're delighted to have the opportunity to acknowledge Gillian Whitehead's exemplary musical achievements with an honorary doctorate. She has not only achieved at the highest levels but has also contributed much to the University."
Ms Whitehead's website is: www.artsfoundation.org.nz/whitehead.html
Issued by Victoria University of Wellington Public Affairs
For further information please contact Antony.Paltridge@vuw.ac.nz or phone +64-4-463-5873