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2021 SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha Finalists

SOUNZ Centre for New Zealand Music, with APRA AMCOS NZ, is thrilled to announce the finalists for the 2021 SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha, celebrating excellence in contemporary composition:

  • Neville Hall for so flamed in the air
  • Plan 9 (David Donaldson, Janet Roddick and Steve Roche) for The Bewilderness
  • Reuben Jelleyman for Klein Fountain

The finalists were selected by a judging panel of independent industry representatives, including an international composer representative Ann Cleare (Ireland):

“It was a real pleasure and voyage of discovery to review the works for SOUNZ Contemporary Award 2021. The stylistic range of the works included was impressive, as was the dedication of each composer to the development of an integral musical language. Although I haven’t yet had the chance to visit New Zealand, I now have the impression of it having a diverse, dynamic, and imaginative compositional landscape with many dedicated musical minds at work.”

The panel, which included New Zealanders Ashley Brown, Leonie Holmes, Mark Menzies and Phil Brownlee, commented on the very high quality of the submissions this year, demonstrated in the 48 works entered by 36 composers.

Mark Menzies says, “Listening and viewing the 48 entries submitted for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award this year, has been to experience an euphoric-inducing sample of the cultural/creative/imaginative richness we are surrounded by in Aotearoa.”

Neville Hall, a first-time finalist for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, has been nominated for his work so flamed in the air, for orchestra.

Neville Hall says, “I was, of course, thrilled to learn that so flamed in the air had been nominated for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award. The composition emerged in the strange environment of the Covid-19 pandemic and a lot of the work was done during various levels of lockdown. The concert at which it was premiered focused on the music of the superb Italian composer Salvatore Sciarrino, who had initially planned to attend the event in Ljubljana. The pandemic unfortunately prevented his participation, but I was grateful to the management of the Slovenian Philharmonic that, against all odds, they persevered with the project and realised the concert via live streaming. I hope that I may eventually have an opportunity to present this work to the New Zealand audience.”

The Wellington based collective Plan 9 (David Donaldson, Janet Roddick and Steve Roche) are also first-time finalists for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award, and have been nominated for their work The Bewilderness, for altered string quartet with two voices.

Plan 9 says, “It’s a real honour to be nominated for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha surrounded by the huge number and growing diversity of talented composers here in Aotearoa.

“Although working full time as composers, we work predominantly in the area of screen music usually working to an outside brief. Creating The Bewilderness gave us a chance to break away from those outside limitations, to challenge ourselves and compose and experiment in ways we wouldn’t usually have time or headspace for. We set ourselves a new set of constraints – to compose within the context of an altered string quartet – double bass, cello, and two violins, and incorporating vocalists Janet Roddick and throat singer, Jonny Marks. The composition is loosely based on the unsettling experience of the 2020 Covid19 lockdown from the sudden shock through the stages of drama and disruption to periods of peace and introspection. We are extremely grateful to the three generous musicians who worked with us on this recording: Ruby Solly, Tristan Carter and Jonny Marks.

“Drawing on our 35-year history of working together as a composing partnership combined with the support and ease of our collaboration enabled us to explore writing, arranging and producing this work that was some way outside our usual comfort zone. Plan 9 acknowledges the support of Creative New Zealand Toi Aotearoa.”

Reuben Jelleyman (finalist for the 2015 SOUNZ Contemporary Award) has been nominated for his work Klein Fountain.

Reuben Jelleyman says, “It’s a lovely surprise! Music passes between us, and to know that there are things about this piece that presented themselves as fascinating and beautiful to the jury is a wonderful outcome to what was a difficult, tiring project. I am very honoured to be selected, and it means a lot to me being far from home at this moment.

“Klein Fountain is a piece that I wrote for the musicians of Ensemble Intercontemporain at the end of 2020. After a workshop with the ensemble in late December 2020 where I presented relatively finished materials, I found that some of the core materials were in fact not working so well. The piece underwent significant changes in the final month of composition, and was finished through the perpetual night in the weeks over Christmas and New Year's at my sister’s place in Stockholm.”

The winner of the SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha will be announced at the 2021 APRA Silver Scroll Awards to be held at the Town Hall in Auckland on Thursday 14 October.

The SOUNZ Contemporary Award | Te Tohu Auaha, celebrating its 23rd anniversary this year, recognises New Zealand compositions demonstrating outstanding levels of creativity and inspiration and has been presented in collaboration with APRA AMCOS NZ since 1998. Read more about the Award and its past winners and finalists, and explore their works here.

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