More performances – but I need to write!

They say that life not only imitates art, it gets in the way of art. In my case, both are incredibly true.

The last two years have been crazily busy, and I’ve had little time to create new music, although I’ve been jotting ideas down and scrabbling text together.

In late 2016 I sold the farm I owned with my ex-husband, and now I’ve moved back into the city (well, Dunedin is a small town really!) with my new partner Matt. Together with the four kids we have between us we’ve bought a new home, and begun the long process of renovations. It’s taking most of my spare time, bringing a beautiful old villa up to date, and I’m thoroughly enjoying the process, but it has left me little time for anything else creative.

Hence my lack of new music.

My apologies.

The last two years has, however, also seen a significant number of performances, as current pieces continue to get outings around the world. I continue to be one of the most regularly performed New Zealand composers, and possibly the most performed New Zealand female choral composer, a fact for which I am incredibly grateful and for which I feel very honoured.


Above, Mary Sings A Lullaby, performed by Coro Armonie in Voce, Italy, directed by Mario Riva. 16 August 2017.

Crescent Moon has had performances in Australia (Melbourne and Darwin), Spain, Iceland, Canada, the United Kingdom, Slovenia, Ireland, and several more states in the Unites States including Oregon, Alabama, California, New York, Michigan, North Dakota and Florida.

Bell Carol was given eight performances in West bend, Wisconsin in the United States. Thanks so much to West Bend Masonic Lodge for contacting me, and letting me know! 🙂

Where Is The Moon? had a recent outing in Quebec, Canada, and in Alabama, and various movements from The Wheel of the Year continue to be performed all around the world, finding favour in Spain and Brazil in particular. The entire Wheel of the Year was also performed in Goirle, near Tilburg in the Netherlands.

Finally, The Chocolate Song, a joint composition with my ex-husband Michael Winikoff, was recently performed in Liverpool, England.

Thankyou to all of the choirs and individuals who continue to perform my work. I will write more! I promise! Now we’re settled into our new home, composition has moved from the back burner to the front burner, so I’ll get in gear and get cracking! 🙂

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Where the wild things grow…and a new choral composition competition!

It looks like ROCS (RMIT Occasional Choral Society, based in Melbourne, Australia) is having another Choral Composition competition.

So…do I enter, or don’t I?

ROCS is a terrific choir, and one of my “home choirs” – I was a member for a number of years, and many of its members are longtime friends. They’re well-known for supporting upcoming composers, for having a membership of choral composers in their ranks, and for being intensely creative and original in the works they choose to perform.

Which is bloody brilliant, I think. We need more choirs like them. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I love the Mozart Requiem and Handel’s Messiah, but do they really need to be performed that much?

Anyway, ROCS has run a number of these Composition Competitions over there years. Here’s the poster from the last one:

wildthings

And yes, the concert was named after a piece of mine – I wrote the lyrics and Michael Winikoff the music. Here’s a link to the piece in question, and here are the lyrics:

I know a place where the wild things grow
I know a place where the wild things grow
There’s an apple tree
From a core
That someone threw away
The fruit is sweet
So sweet
And no-one knows but me

I know a place where the wild things live
I know a place where the wild things live
Down on Puddle alley, where the little river flows
And a mother duck lives With her baby ducklings,
Soft and grey
So quiet
No-one knows but me

I climb along the bank
And sit so quietly
That no-one knows I’m there
I’m hidden safe away
I see the world go by
And no-one knows I’m there
Hidden in my safe and secret magic world

I know a place where the magic lies
I know a place where the magic lies
A world so far away
And still so close to home
I never feel alone
I never am alone
In my secret place
Where the wild things grow

I wrote the lyrics while reminiscing about the times I used to slip away from all the chaos as a child. I’d go and hide in the quiet places in gullies and near creeks, not too far away from home – behind trees or in them, down banks, or just anywhere I couldn’t be seen, and I’d watch and listen and let myself calm down and relax. It’s still something I do – nature calms and soothes me, and helps me find peace.

I wanted the whole feel of the piece to be as if it were a child talking, sharing a secret with someone they trust. I wanted the innocence and transparency of that special time in our lives to come through in the text.

In the case of this work, I turned to the local scenery near my current home in Mosgiel, near Dunedin. Puddle Alley is a real place, and yes, there are families of wild ducks, and there are cows in the paddocks, and sheep, and alpacas, and great big shire horses…and if you stay still and quiet, they’ll all forget you’re there. It’s a real magic that never grows stale.

And there really is an apple tree from an apple core someone threw away. I can’t help wondering if they know.

The competition

Back to the composition competition. Should I enter? Every time one of these comes up, I never know whether to enter or not. I’ve pretty much moved beyond competitions, and am successful enough that I don’t need them, but I still enjoy supporting them and having my work performed. And I love ROCS, which is an awesome choir and is doing an awesome thing in hosting the competitions in the first place.

I think I’ll enter. I have a couple of new pieces up my sleeve, and I haven’t published for a while.

I think it’s time to get back in the saddle 🙂

It’s been a while…

Yes, it’s been a while since I’ve been blogging, and yes, I know it’s certainly been a while since I’ve published any music on CPDL.

I apologise – I’ve been busy. I think John Lennon said, Life is what happens to you when you’re busy making other plans. He was right. Life has been happening, I’ve been very happy, and music just hasn’t…happened.

However, now that life is starting to settle down again, I’m getting back to composing, and it’s been nice. There have been a lot of ideas floating round in my head, and I’ll be writing some pieces with my ex-husband Michael, and my son, who is also a budding composer.

For me this is exciting, as it shows we’re creating a bit of a family tradition. I have hopes my son will be a much better composer than I am. I also hope he will support, as I do, the idea of free, freely-accessible music, available for all.

TO NEWS…

I suppose my biggest news is that, despite not writing anything recently, I continue to be performed worldwide. I am aware of several hundred performances last year, and about the same number in 2014, which shows there is a huge demand for free and easy choral music. I’m proud of this, and keen to continue to support free choral music.

My next goal, now I’ve been performed on all major continents (including Antarctica), is to be performed in space. If you’re an astronaut reading this, or you know someone on the space station, contact me! No, I’m not kidding 😉

In other news, the piece for which I wrote lyrics in association with Michael Winikoff, Deconstruct a Chrysalis, has been selected for performance for Canberra Intervarsity Choral Festival this year. This is great news, as the choir and venue (to be announced) promise to be world-class and yes, CDs will be available for purchase.

NON-COMPOSING NEWS…

I’ve finally got around to learning the ukulele! It’s a fun and easy instrument to learn, and I strongly recommend it, especially for those of us who sing a bit. I took a beginner course earlier this year, and now I’ll be taking an intermediate course in a few weeks’ time. If you are really unfortunate, I may even post a youtube of me singing and playing 😉

That’s it for now, but I hope to have a recording of Deconstruct for you after that performance, and I hope it goes well.

In the meanwhile, here’s a lovely new recording of “Crescent Moon” by Bell, Book and Canto in Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA: