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Triple SOUNZ Contemporary Award Winner Ross Harris

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Triple time for award winning composer
2006 SOUNZ Contemporary Award Winner: Ross Harris

“This work represents a fantastic accomplishment – to take the theme of war and to treat it so sensitively, and yet with such drama. It was an inspired decision to use a soprano soloist to convey the literary elements.”

These comments from the jury marked their decision to award the 2006 SOUNZ Contemporary Award to Ross Harris for his Symphony No. 2, the third time he has won the award in its nine-year history. The Award was announced and trophy presented to the composer at the APRA Awards held in Auckland on Wednesday 20th September.

“Ross previously won in 2000 for his piece To the Memory of I.S. Totska for soprano and chamber ensemble, and in 2005 with Labyrinth, for tuba and orchestra,” commented Scilla Askew, Executive Director of SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music. “His music is admired by his peers, enjoyed by audiences around New Zealand and continues to attract international attention. Ross is one of a growing group of New Zealand composers who make the work of SOUNZ in taking our music to the world both rewarding and essential.”

The Wellington-based composer is currently Composer in Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia and the orchestra, conducted by Bundit Ungrangsee, premiered his Symphony No. 2 in June this year. The work is a symphonic setting of text from Vincent O’Sullivan’s poems which convey the ‘horror and terrible sadness of the man-made hell’ of war. Madeleine Pierard was the soloist and William Dart, writing of the performance, said she : “illuminated O’Sullivan’s often chilling critique of the senselessness of war. … The orchestra gave a consummate performance, no doubt proud of the part that it was playing in the genesis of a major New Zealand score.”

The other finalists this year were also orchestral works featuring a soloist: Releasing the Angel by Eve de Castro-Robinson for cello and orchestra and Dylan Lardelli’s Tumbu for clarinet and orchestra, both commissioned and premiered by the NZSO.

The annual SOUNZ Contemporary Award is a collaborative project between APRA, the Australasian Performing Right Association, and SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music. It celebrates creative excellence by a New Zealand composer and consists of a $3000 cash prize and a trophy designed and made by Auckland sculptor Sarah Smuts Kennedy.It is


Ross Harris: Brief Biography:

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. He has been Composer in Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia in 2005 and 2006 and has written 10 works, including two symphonies, for the orchestra and its ensembles. His Music for Jonny has been taken on tour by the NZSO throughout New Zealand and to England, the Netherlands and Japan in 2005 and was included in the 2006 New Zealand International Arts Festival. His At the Edge of Silence was the only non-European work performed at the concert for the International Association of Music Information Centre’s Conference in Sweden.

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.

A list of previous SOUNZ Contemporary Award winners:
is available from:


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