2005 Contemporary Award Winner Ross Harris
2005 SOUNZ CONTEMPORARY AWARD WINNER:
Opening a new world of tuba sound!
Composer Ross Harris was congratulated for opening up ‘a whole new world of tuba sound!’ when he was announced as the winner of the 2005 SOUNZ Contemporary Award for his Labyrinth, for tuba and orchestra.
The award and trophy were announced and presented by Arts Minister, the Rt. Hon. Helen Clark at the APRA Awards held in Auckland Monday 12th October. In what has become a much anticipated tradition the audience were treated to renditions of the award winners by other bands and groups. Ross' work for tuba and NZSO was accordingly re-presented by The Brassouls - an Auckland brass and jazz ensemble.
Labyrinth was the first of twelve works commissioned by the NZSO pairing a New Zealand composer with one of their principal players. It was premiered by the orchestra in October 2004 with tuba principal Andrew Jarvis as soloist.
“Members of the selection jury were particularly impressed with the piece’s ‘unrelenting energy and ongoing momentum, as if controlling a volcano’,” reports Scilla Askew, executive director of SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music. “They felt that Ross had pulled off an amazing feat in overcome the difficulties in balancing the solo and orchestral brass energies.”
Ross has had a strong connection to the SOUNZ Contemporary Awards over their eight year history. He previously won the award in 2000 for his piece To the Memory of I.S. Totska for soprano and chamber ensemble. He was also a finalist in 2004 and given a special commendation in 2003.
The other finalists this year were Gu Ta by Jeroen Speak, for percussion, and Kenneth Young’s Symphony No. 2, also commissioned by the NZSO.
The annual SOUNZ Contemporary Award is the major prize celebrating creative excellence by a New Zealand composer. It is a collaborative project between APRA, the Australasian Performing Right Association, and SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music.
Four other awards were presented. They were:
2005 APRA Silver Scroll Award (for best popular song) presented to Dann, Jon and Peter Hume from Evermore for It's Too Late . Pitch Black performed an electronic version of their song during the night.
2005 APRA Maioha Award presented to Anituatua Black and Whirimako Black for Tini Whetu . Kathy Phillips and the Kevin Field Trio performed an intimate jazz setting of the waiata.
2005 Most Performed Work in New Zealand - Tim and Neil Finn Won't Give In .
2005 Most Performed Work Overseas - Neil Finn Don't Dream it's Over . Guests were treated to a performance of this song by Adeaze and Nesian Mystik.
A DOWNLOADABLE PDF
of this press release and information about the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, including previous finalists and winners, is available from: http://www.sounz.org.nz/projects-Contemp.php
FURTHER BACKGROUND & EXPANDED DETAILS:
“Members of the selection jury were particularly impressed with the piece’s ‘unrelenting energy and ongoing momentum, as if controlling a volcano’,” reports Scilla Askew, executive director of SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music. “They felt that Ross had pulled off an amazing feat in overcome the difficulties in balancing the solo and orchestral brass energies. The tuba is not a traditional solo instrument, but they thought he made it sing in uncompromising musical language and opened up a whole new world of tuba sound!”
Labyrinth is the first of twelve works commissioned by the NZSO pairing a New Zealand composer with a principal player as soloists. Ross was particularly impressed by the brilliant playing of principal tuba player Andrew Jarvis and was keen to write a work specifically for him. The idea of a labyrinth came from several sources. “The tuba itself is a labyrinthine tangle of tubes and our inner ears contain bony labyrinths,” Ross comments in his programme notes to the work. “In this piece the term also describes the many pathways scattered through the work. The tuba finds itself caught in a dense web of possibilities, perhaps of its own making, and must struggle to find a resolution.”
Ross has had a strong connection to the SOUNZ
Contemporary Awards over their eight year history, an
indication of his accomplishment as an innovative and
versatile composer. He previously won the award in 2000 for
his piece To the Memory of I.S. Totska for soprano and
chamber ensemble. I.S. Totzka died in Ravensbrüch
concentration camp during World War II and Ross took the
text for the work from subtitles of the BBC series The Nazis
- a lesson in history.
He was also a finalist in 2004 with At the Edge of Silence for chamber quintet and in 2003, Chaconne, his work for solo viola, was given a special commendation by the SOUNZ Contemporary Award jury.
Wellington composer Ross Harris is currently the
2005 / 2006 composer-in-Residence for the Auckland
Philharmonia who premiered his Symphony on August 25 this
year. They will also play Roimata, a creative collaboration
between Ross and Mahinarangi Tocker in their September 26,
27 PhilharMania concerts. This is the story of a girl who
uses the world of fantasy and her love of the night time to
cope with the 'real world' that she lives in. Mahinarangi
has written the text and will sing/narrate the work
accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia.
An Ensemble Philharmonia group will premiere Jazz Suite for Wind Quintet at lunchtime concerts in October. Ross has also been mentor for the extensive range of composition workshops that the AP has offered to student and graduate composers this year.
The NZSO included Ross’ poignant Music for Jonny in the programme they took to England, Europe and Japan in August as well as their 2005 Mainland Tour. South Islanders still have the opportunity to hear this work as the NZSO continue their Mainland Tour through six centres between October 10-15.
Ross Harris was born in the small town of Amberley in North Canterbury in 1945. He was educated in Christchurch and attended University of Canterbury before moving to Victoria University of Wellington to complete his education. In the 1960s he played tuba and french horn in the National Youth Orchestra and went on to play french horn in the NZSO. More recently he has played jazz saxophone and now concentrates on jazz trumpet and accordion.
Ross was appointed a Lecturer in Music at Victoria University in 1971. After teaching at Victoria University for 30 years Ross Harris has now moved into a career as a freelance composer.
Ross Harris has written over 100 works including operas, songs, chamber music, electronic music, symphonic music and jazz. In 1985 he was awarded a QSM for Public Service following the premiere of his opera Waituhi with libretto by Witi Ihimaera. In 1990 he was awarded the CANZ Citation for Services to New Zealand Music.
LINKS TO FURTHER COMPOSER BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION:
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ABOUT THE SOUNZ CONTEMPORARY AWARD
The SOUNZ Contemporary Award is a collaborative project between APRA (Australasian Performing Right Association) and SOUNZ (the Centre for New Zealand Music) that aims to reward the creative achievements of NZ composers. SOUNZ administers the award, collating submissions and convening a jury of music professionals (players, conductors, composers, artistic directors) who choose the finalists and winners. The award is given to a work premiered during the previous year which displays excellence and innovation. The award has been presented annually at the APRA Silver Scrolls Awards Ceremony since 1998.
A LIST OF PREVIOUS SOUNZ CONTEMPORARY AWARD
is available from: http://www.sounz.org.nz/projects-Contemp.php