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Annual SOUNZ Community Commission

Press release begins:

Recorders and gamelan. Improvising teenagers. Choral and orchestral players from Central Otago. Blind and visually impaired students.

This list illustrates the diverse range of community groups who have, over the last seven years, enjoyed the thrill of rehearsing and performing a piece of music written especially for them.

The SOUNZ Community Commission is an annual project administered by SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand music. It allows a community group to work with a professional composer in a creative collaboration that results in the performance of new music in the following year. Through the generosity of an anonymous overseas benefactor up to $1500 is available for the composer to create the new work.

Applications for the 2006 SOUNZ Community Commission close on Friday 30 June.

“The proposals can come from either the Community Groups, or the composers themselves,” Scilla Askew, executive director of SOUNZ comments. “It is always exciting to see the range of proposed projects each year. The SOUNZ Community Commission is all about bringing professional composers and community musicians together. Not only do both these parties benefit in the process, but also, when the result is performed, the audience share in the energy and vitality that is engendered in the commissioning of new music.”

This year, students and teachers taking part in the annual music course hosted by Homai Campus for the Blind and Visually Impaired will rehearse and perform a work for choir, piano and viola by composer Ross Carey. “Following two workshops with pupils and staff I am now putting the final touches to the piece,” Ross explains. “Then the score will be transcribed into braille notation ready for the choir to rehearse. The students have a wide range of ages, cultural backgrounds and musical ability: from 12 years old to early 20’s, from willing singers to an Auckland University Vocal student. One section of the work has a phrase repeated in the various languages of the participating group: Maori, Samoan, Korean, Croatian and English. The process has been fascinating, and very rewarding.”

The first SOUNZ Community Commission in 1999 enabled composer Jonathan Besser to create New Dawn for the Millennium Parade in Gisborne.
The 2004 SOUNZ Community Commission was a partnership between the Festival of Colour organisers in Wanaka and composer Rachel Clement which resulted in a performance of Taking Off , a festival anthem, by the Central Otago Regional Choir and Central Otago Regional Orchestra. In between, other commissions have included Helen Bowater’s Hu, a work for massed recorders and gamelan for the NZ Recorder Conference in Christchurch (2001) and Jeff Henderson’s work with senior instrumental students at the Auckland Academy of Music to create an improvised work for (09)03 Festival of Contemporary Music (2003).

More information about the SOUNZ Community Commission can be found on the SOUNZ website, or by contacting the Centre for New Zealand Music on 04 801 8602 or by e-mail:


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