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Exhibition Celebrating New Zealand Composition

26 April 2005

Exhibition Celebrating New Zealand Composition

A new exhibition celebrating New Zealand contemporary art music has just gone on show at the National Library Gallery.

Entitled Mardi Gras: a celebration of New Zealand composition, the exhibition is named after Edwin Carr's overture Mardi Gras, first-prize winner at the 1950 Auckland City Festival. Surprisingly, the work was too tricky for the National Orchestra's conductor, so its promised premiere that year was cancelled.

Three years later, however, Carr was present when it opened a concert at the Festival Hall in London to farewell Queen Elizabeth II on her departure to New Zealand and Australia. Charles Mackerras conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and reviews encouraged the young composer.

The original score of this work is displayed in the exhibition, which includes items from some of the music collections acquired by the Alexander Turnbull Library, mainly over the past four years.

Included is a letter from an ecstatic Douglas Lilburn to pianist Peter Cooper, on his first hearing of a recording of the latter's performance of Lilburn's Chaconne for piano.

Exhibition curator, Jill Palmer, Music Librarian of the Library's Archive of New Zealand Music, says that the exhibition celebrates the work of our composers and the increase in recording, publishing, broadcasting and promotion that New Zealand music has experienced in more recent years.

'In the early 1980s, there were relatively few recordings and scores of New Zealand compositions published each year, but those produced were very significant. Now, there are many composers, with more support and opportunities than before, and our New Zealand voice is more often being heard internationally.'

Mardi Gras is the current 'Gifts to the Nation' exhibition, which acknowledges donations and materials acquired by the Alexander Turnbull Library for the benefit of all New Zealanders. It will run until 3 July 2005.


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