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New Zealand composers concert of new music

New works by young New Zealand composers stand tall in concert of new music

Two of Wellington’s premier performing groups are joining forces to present new compositions by emerging New Zealand composers.

The Tudor Consort, “Wellington’s superb chamber choir” (The Dominion Post), and contemporary music ensemble Gate Seven are collaborating for premiere performances of three new works by honours students in composition from Victoria University, along with James MacMillan’s remarkable cantata Seven Last Words from the Cross.

This exciting performance of new music is on Saturday 21 August at 8pm at Sacred Heart Cathedral.

Scottish-born MacMillan is “the most exciting young British composer to have emerged in the 1990s” (The Guardian). Seven Last Words, composed in 1993, is a seven-movement cantata for string orchestra and chamber choir. A remarkably beautiful work, it is rich with pathos and emotion.

At the start of the cantata MacMillan limits himself to quite simple musical themes but over the course of the seven-movement work these simple melodies gradually fracture into a vastly more complicated – and much more passionate – palette of sound.

The technique is called “deconstruction” and Victoria University composition students James Dunlop, Antonia Barnett-MacIntosh and Rachel Morgan were assigned a similar challenge by composition tutor Dugal McKinnon: to take simple themes from pieces of early music and to deconstruct these themes to create brand new art works for voices and instruments.

“The composers were asked to write music which would refer to and comment on past musical languages, recontextualizing this material through the lens of the present,” says Clark. “By hearing new works by young emerging composers, the audience gets an exciting glimpse into the future of New Zealand music.”

Victoria University composition students at all levels are expected to have their pieces performed as part of their assessments, but not normally on so grand a scale by such celebrated performers in front of such large audiences: not only this concert’s live audience, but also a radio audience, as the pieces are being recorded for later broadcast by Concert FM.

“Victoria’s School of Music has been the nesting ground for many of New Zealand’s finest composers, and I believe that one of the key factors in this success is the emphasis placed on performance of student works,” says Clark.

It’s not the first time The Tudor Consort has performed brand new works by composers based at Victoria University. The choir gave the premier performance of Jack Body’s remarkable Five Lullabies in 1992; the recording of that performance won Radio Awards both in New Zealand and in France.


8pm Saturday 21 August 2004 Sacred Heart Cathedral, Hill Street, Wellington $25 / $15 / $7 / Book online at Ticketek Visit

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