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Finalists Announced For SOUNZ & Screen Awards –To Be Presented At The 2020 APRA Silver Scroll Awards

Some of New Zealand’s best songwriters and composers have been shortlisted for three prestigious awards to be presented at the 2020 APRA Silver Scroll Awards.


The SOUNZ Contemporary Award celebrates excellence in contemporary composition.

2020 finalists:

All three SOUNZ Contemporary Award finalists this year are former finalists, but they take us in very different directions in contemporary classical music.

Celeste Oram is a New Zealand composer and vocalist now based in San Diego, who aims to create work “in which performers and listeners explore sonic and social histories, micro-cultures, and utopias.” This year she is a finalist for her work a loose affiliation of alleluias – a concerto for improvising violinist and three voices, commissioned by the La Jolla Symphony & Chorus. The piece takes inspiration from pop song structures and the mechanisms of breathing, while intertwining glimpses of material from contemporary works like Paul Simon’s The Boy in the Bubble, redemption by serpentwithfeet, as well as choral works from the 12th and 17th centuries.

The genesis of Assemblage is truly collaborative, with composer Alex Taylor (also now San Diego based) working with visual artist Simon Ingram, to bring together the sounds, movements, and inspirations of a painting robot (who is part of the performance), with an orchestral composition. Commissioned by conductor Marc Taddei and premiered by Orchestra Wellington, the piece draws on many of the gestural elements of the robot – gradients, curves, expansion and contraction, and much of the work is built on a series of slow-moving chromatic harmonies – creating a constrained quality to the sound. But like a rubber band being pulled, there’s always the potential for that energy to snap or release.

Commissioned by the NZSO, Michael Norris’ Mātauranga (Rerenga) is a work for orchestra, taonga puoro and live electronics which reflects on Captain Cook’s first voyage to the South Pacific and his arrival in Aotearoa. Norris (who has been a finalist six times, and won the award three times) recognised the many issues surrounding Cook's arrival in New Zealand, and the piece is not so much a celebration as an evocation of a moment in time. “I'm not just thinking of the cultural collision between Cook and the local iwi and tangata whenua, but I'm also thinking of a kind of sonic world. What were the seascapes that Cook was experiencing during those long days of endless voyaging around the South Pacific? What were the birdscapes or the gentle lapping of the waves on the shoreline of these places where Cook put down his anchors?”

Judging for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award is conducted by an anonymous judging panel of local and international composers, convened by SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music.


The APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film and APRA Best Original Music in a Series Awards celebrate New Zealand's screen composers. The awards recognise the relationship that composers have with cinema and the power of music to illuminate, elevate and support real and imagined worlds, narratives, images and performances.

2020 finalists for APRA Best Original Music In A Series Award:

2020 finalists for APRA Best Original Music In A Film Award:

Claire Cowan is a prolific Auckland based composer, and won Best Original Music in a Series for her work on Hillary in 2017. This year she’s a finalist in both categories. Firstly for her innovative work on Queenstown-based mystery series One Lane Bridge, evoking the eerie solitude of the landscape and familial tensions, and secondly for her energetic score for larger-than-life drama Runaway Millionaires, based on the true story of the Kiwi couple who ended up with $10 million in their bank account by accident, and decided to take off to China to see if they could evade authorities and keep the cash.

Wellington’s David Long (also a former finalist and winner) is recognized this year for his work on the sumptuous international co-production of The Luminaries. Based on Eleanor Catton’s acclaimed historical novel, and series unravels an incredible tale of star-crossed love bound up in a gold-rush mystery, and Long’s score carefully intertwines the spiritual with the gritty, building drama while also delineating the many characters who cross paths.

The names Don McGlashan and Harry Sinclair are synonymous with the innovative and hilarious 80s musical creations of The Front Lawn. Now they have transposed that same knack for whimsy and delight to children’s animated TV series Kiri and Lou, for which they are finalists. Blending songs with soundscapes that highlight the adventures of the two pre-historic mates of disparate sizes, they capture a wild natural world, and encourage subtle life lessons we can all relate to.

Having carved a successful career as the bass player in Die! Die! Die!, Lachlan Anderson has been concurrently emerging as an in-demand screen composer both in Aotearoa and internationally. Having been applauded for his work on Belgian Netflix hit Tabula Rasa, and London-based true life thriller 6 Days, he’s recently returned to Auckland and completed work on transgender drama Rūrangi and high intensity action adventure series The Dead Lands – for which he is nominated.

Karl Steven is no stranger to the APRA Screen Awards, having been nominated six times, and won twice. This year, his work on cult horror thriller (with a touch of comedy) Come To Daddy is a finalist, applauded for its characterful chamber orchestra score which balances intrigue, knife-edge tension, and mayhem, enhancing the unpredictable storyline that unfolds as a son reunites with his estranged father in a remote location.

Also a former finalist and winner, Mahuia Bridgman-Cooper is known for his playful, innovative scores, and this year’s nomination is no different. The Legend of Baron To’a is a Kiwi-Polynesian action comedy which finds pathos in amongst the exceptionally choreographed and shot fight scenes, and Bridgman-Cooper’s music gives it extra punch and energy, with touches of island inspiration.

The judges for the 2020 APRA Screen Awards were: Amanda Brown, Janet Roddick, Rhian Sheehan, and Tom McLeod.

All awards will be presented at Auckland Town Hall on Wednesday October 14th 

The awards are proudly supported by NZ On Air.



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