Nowdrifts in NZ

Richard Haynes did a superlative job giving Nowdrifts its NZ premiere, not to mention Michael Norris’ musically beguiling but performatively torturous De Corporis Fabrica, in back to back concerts on Sat 19 and Sun 20 May (meaning two concerts per evening).

Richard Haynes

This is the first time, hopefully not the last, I’ve heard a work of mine performed four times in 48 hours. Richard didn’t flag, despite playing with a heavy cold, and both his performance and the music itself was appreciatively received (listen to Phil Brownlee’s review on Upbeat). The Page Blackie gallery made for an intimate venue, and though I liked the contribution the traffic noise made to my piece, it wasn’t always well paired with the other works on the programme. Yet, the seamless morph from a high clarinet note to an impromptu soprano performance somewhere outside on Victoria St (downtown Wellington) was a delicious moment that Cage would no doubt have savoured…

Nowdrifts review

Steve Berryman, writing for, reviewed The Body Electric concert which featured my piece “Nowdrifts for solo bass clarinet and fixed media… this piece opened with breath sounds, blowing through the instrument… Delicate conventional bass clarinet sounds slowly emerged, yet the fixed media was always in the foreground and often disguised [Richard] Haynes’ playing. The ending, a low sustained note with an unexpected twist to a short note, was uncoloured by the pre-prepared media and as such it made this solo note even more poignant.”

While it’s unclear if, according to Berryman, Richard’s being “disguised” by the audio material is a good or bad thing  – certainly my intention was for it to be difficult to distinguish between the two – I’m gratified that the ending created poignancy; in writing the piece I was thinking of Lachenmann’s Pression for solo ‘cello, which only slips into pitch after about 5 minutes of often intense noise, the effect of which (the emergence of pitch that is) is affectively intense.

Arcades: irresistible existential bubblegum

Music critic William Dart likes the Arcades – thanks William!

“Arcades is the name by which composers Dugal McKinnon and David Prior identify their partnership. Rattle’s press release spins words about the pair’s subverted pop sensibility sitting perfectly with the label’s penchant for music that follows its own compass. ‘Who’s Most Lost’ is a set of 13 rather tricky pop songs that delight in toying and sometimes mashing our expectations. They’re elliptical pieces, and if we were thinking a paper score, there’d be a lot of white in between the black. Both McKinnon and Prior are known for their weighter works. Prior can boast prizes at theillustrious Bourges Festival – but in ‘You Were Born Into This’ they have furnished me with a gorgeous summertime hit that I suspect will be on high rotate over the next few months. Alt.pop perhaps or maybe existential bubblegum, its wafting scales, modish sonic gristle and cute boyish vocals are irresistible.”

William Dart, The Critic’s Chair, Radio New Zealand Concert, Dec 2011