“I heard the bells on Christmas Day” and other performances

I’ve just had a request for an SSAB version of “I heard the bells on Christmas Day”, for the sesquicentennial celebrations of the American Civil War in Gettysburg, USA in June 2013! So I’m busy working away, and that should be released on this website within the next day or two.

In the meanwhile, the current SATB version is (of course) available here. Go have a listen – it’s quite a lovely piece.

I’m thrilled at the chance to be part of such an important celebration – the American Civil War not only changed the face of US history, but also the path of human rights worldwide. I just wish I could thank the great poet Longfellow for writing such a beautiful text. I hope I’ve done it justice.

Other performances

When I began 2012, I was hoping that I might equal the sixty (or so) performances I managed worldwide last year. Things are looking good – so far I’ve had about a dozen performances, primarily in the UK, plus a couple of performances in the US and in New Zealand. I really need to update my performance page!

But the year has been so busy with other things – at home we’re ripping out a swimming pool, doing landscaping of the farm and painting, we’ve got in a new ram, and I’ve also been busy hatching out baby chicks. All have kept me busy, not to mention looking after a very active four year old, and a pretty precocious seven year old. I sleep well these days!

New works

However, I’ve finally got back to composing, now the kids are back in school and kindy (I’m sure Beethoven never had to deal with parent-teacher timetables!). I’m currently working on an Ave Maria – something I always intended to write but which, until now, I never felt competent enough to attempt. But now the time has come, and it is happening, and I’m about halfway there.

I’m thrilled with the piece, my husband hates it, so I guess the proof in the pudding will be how you all out there respond to it. It certainly isn’t “traditional” in any sense!

The “Ave Maria” should be completed and released in the next week or two, if all goes well. It will be released here at this website first, so stay tuned 🙂

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Happy New Year – the apprenticeship continues…

2011 has been a good year for me, composition-wise. So I thought I’d write about what happened, where I currently stand, and what my goals for 2012 are.

2011 – my first year apprenticeship!

Firstly, I’ve been accepted as a fully represented SOUNZ composer, which is wonderful news. More info on that to come: my forms have only just gone in.

To be a fully represented composer, I needed to have had 7 performances, plus international performances, prizes and recordings. I’ve done all that, thanks to so much support from people all around the world who have loved and shared my music, so everything I’m starting to achieve right now is due to you all, and your decisions to perform and record my music, as much as anything I’ve done.

Thanks in particular to RMIT Occasional Choral Society in Melbourne, Australia, and to Grupo Talliesin in Brazil, who have been there from the beginning. Both groups have been incredibly supportive not just of me, but of other aspiring musicians and composers. We need more awesome people like you in the world, willing to take a chance on those of us who are still building our name and credentials.

This year, I’ve written and published about a dozen pieces of music. I’ve had over 60 performances around the globe, more than one a week, and everywhere from Brazil to London to Pennsyvania to Shanghai!

Every performance I hear of is a thrill to me – it’s wonderful to know that my music is being performed and enjoyed around the world. It’s also very humbling to receive so many emails from so many lovely people.

Thankyou thankyou thankyou!

Some of the places I’ve been performed I’ve had to look up on Google, so it has been an education in other ways besides music, because I’ve learned more about where people live. Every city and town I’ve heard from I’ve looked up on Google Earth, and learned a bit more about it. The world really is a village now, and we can connect with one another through music.

When I began 2011, I thought of this year as my “first year of apprenticeship”, learning to write music as a composer.

There is so much to learn, and the more I learn, the more I realise I’ve a lot of growing to do. But I do feel like I’ve learned a huge amount, and that I am growing and developing my skills. Pieces are happening more quickly and naturally now, and the flow is easier.

Overall, I do feel like I’ve learned as much as any music student would have, by doing my own “private apprenticeship” at home.

If I can write music at home, anyone can. If you’re reading this, and you’ve ever wanted to write music, don’t let anyone or anything stop you. You can do it!

So let your music ring out and light the world up!

Goals for 2012

2012 will be my second year of my “apprenticeship”.

I’ll continue to study scores by the “Great Composers”: everything from Mozart to McCartney.

I’ve been starting to get more interested in the Russian dudes – Russian church music is so beautiful. And in early music. Plus anything from anywhere I happen to think is good. Lady Gaga, for instance, is a master of the ear worm, and I’m starting to take her music to pieces, and see how it operates: there really is a calculation and method to it all.

That’s the beauty of studying and learning by myself – I can pick and choose what I want to learn from! I don’t know of any course that compares Wagner to Gaga – but they should! The two have a lot of similarities in how they “hook” your ear, and it is interesting to compare methods and techniques in the writing styles.

Goals for 2012 include finishing a Christmas Song Cycle which I have already started. I’m planning for it to run between 15 and 20 minutes in length, and be set for full choir plus piano. As far as I know, no New Zealand composer has ever written anything like this, so I guess it’s up to me 🙂 Yee haw!

That’s my major goal. I’m also planning to write a few solo pieces, and start writing instrumental works. A big part of the plans involves setting up a recording studio here at home, and organising a group of singers and instrumentalists to do some recordings. I just have to find some talented people who are interested.

Another goal is to try writing some children’s music. I’d like to write some nursery rhymes, and have had some ideas jotted down for a while now, but haven’t got around to filling them out. They’d be in unison with piano, with maybe a few simple splits here and there.

That’s probably enough for 2012. If I achieve all that I’ll be doing really well.

So here’s to a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

May 2012 be peaceful, joyful, and filled with music for everyone 🙂

Performances in New Zealand – including Dunedin

My Christmas music is getting a number of performances around the world this Christmas, including locally here in New Zealand and in Dunedin.

I was contacted by Professor Caldwell of Susquehanna University in Pennsylvania earlier in the month, letting me know that my short work, Love Will Make The Roses Grow was to be performed by the Susquehanna University Women’s Choir on the 18th of November.

Auckland’s “The Three Mezzos Vocal Trio”, comprising accomplished singers Lynne Anderson, Margo Knightbridge and Barbara Lynch, performed the three voice version of my recent composition Mary Sings A Lullaby on November 20th in the Ballroom at Highwic in Epsom.

Also on the North Island, the Renaissance Singers in Hamilton performed Mary Sings a Lullaby, in four parts, on the 20th of November, together with Samhain, Beltane, Yule and Lammas from my Wheel of the Year song cycle.

“Mary” is getting a number of performances around the world – it has other scheduled performances for 2011 by choirs in England (London) and Canada, and possibly Hong Kong (China).

Probably the most exciting performance for me, though, is one by a local choir, Southern Consort of Voices. They’re a Dunedin-based chamber choir, and will be performing my 2010 piece Sing Christmas! in St. Paul’s Cathedral in the Octagon at their traditional lunchtime Christmas concert.

The concert is at 12:15 pm, tickets are $15 and $10. This concert is particularly exciting for me, because I get to hear my work performed live – usually I only get recordings, or word of mouth that the performance occurred!

The concert is also exciting because I used to sing in St. Paul’s Cathedral. Hearing my own music performed there by a local choir will be a real honour.

Here is the press release for the concert:

    This year’s Christmas concert on Friday, December 2nd, is to be held in the traditional venue, St Paul’s Cathedral at 12.15pm. But the programme is far from traditional, with a variety of works from the 20th century, including several New Zealand pieces.

    The concert will begin with the energetic Noel by Roxburgh and the lilting Shepherd’s Carol by Bob Chilcott. These are followed by a couple of charming vignettes from John Ritchie and the warm and colourful Bless this Child from Christopher Marshall’s Triptych (No. 1). The title song, Sing Christmas, is by local composer, Leanne Veitch, and features playful rhythms and even a little percussion.

    We allow ourselves a step back in time to sing three Marion pieces, notably Phillip’s beautifully-constructed renaissance motet, Hodie Beata Virgo, and two gorgeous Russian pieces, Dostoino Yest by Tchaikovsky and Bogoroditse Djevo by Rachmaninoff, from his Vespers.

    We then finish with a flourish, tackling a couple of snappy Jazz numbers.

If you’re a Dunedinite, come along, and support a great choir, and get a chance to listen to some terrific music in a beautiful accoustic.