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Inaugural composer in residence appointed at Vic

Inaugural composer in residence appointed at Victoria University

Leading contemporary musician James Gardner has been appointed as the inaugural Creative New Zealand Victoria University composer in residence.

Mr Gardner is the director of the Auckland-based contemporary music ensemble 175 East. The group has gained an international reputation and given many acclaimed world premiere performances of music by New Zealand and overseas composers.

Head of the School of Music, Euan Murdoch, said the Creative New Zealand Victoria University Composer’s Residency was sorely needed in the Capital.

"As the home of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Wellington Sinfonia, the New Zealand String Quartet and groups such as Stroma, Saxcess and Strike, the Capital is, musically speaking, the nation's most dynamic city and there are lots of outlets for musicians. But for composers, the creative opportunities are far more limited compared to other art forms.

"Thanks to the support of Creative New Zealand, we believe the School of Music will provide a stimulating environment for the resident composer, allowing them to attend workshops, to interact informally with both staff and student composers and to have active contact with the large number of musical organisations and performing groups in the city."

Creative New Zealand chief executive Elizabeth Kerr commended the University and the School for coming forward with the residency proposal.

"The Creative New Zealand Victoria University Composer's Residency is one of a series of similar programmes we have helped establish throughout the arts sector in partnership with the tertiary sector and other arts and performing groups. We believe a residency provides an artist with the opportunity to take time out to allow their creative abilities to flourish. It is often a chance for them to take artistic risks or pursue new directions in their work.”

Mr Murdoch said Mr Gardner was an excellent choice for the appointment, which would run from a year from July 2004.

"Since coming to New Zealand from Britain a decade ago, James Gardner has quickly built a reputation as one of New Zealand's leading contemporary composers. His works are played increasingly overseas and are often broadcast on Concert FM, as are a number of programmes he has written and presented for the station on a wide range of composers including Frank Zappa.”

"He has also given guest lectures in New Zealand, Spain and the United States and lectured on electronic music at the University of Auckland. The Composers' Association of New Zealand has also honoured him by making him the recipient of its CANZ Trust Fund Award last year and choosing him to be one of two delegates to represent New Zealand at a series of New Zealand-Korea exchange concerts in Seoul in May 2003."

“Before moving to New Zealand and becoming a New Zealand citizen, Mr Gardner played keyboards and programmed synthesizers for a variety of well-known artists. In 1990, he co-founded the band and remix team, Apollo 440, with whom he reworked tracks by artists such as U2 and Scritti Politti.”

Mr Gardner said he was delighted and honoured to be appointed to the position.

"As a freelance composer I relish the opportunity to devote a year to writing music, freed from distractions, and look forward to collaborating with many of the world-class musicians currently based in Wellington.

"While there are—quite rightly—many residencies for those working in the visual arts and literature, there are hardly any for composers and I congratulate Creative New Zealand and Victoria University on their foresight in creating this overdue and invaluable residency, not least for the sake of my successors. I shall do my best to use my time in Wellington as fruitfully as possible.”

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