V (without pencil) (M)

I’m a composer, performer and producer of music – and also the Director of NZ Membership at APRA AMCOS.

I compose contemporary classical music as well as music for film, television and theatre. I play keyboards and sing. I arrange orchestral music for other artists. I’ve worked as a musical director and composer for large scale events and television programs. I’ve acted as an advisor and assessor for local and national arts organisations. I’ve worked as a live broadcaster, presenting and announcing programmes about music on National Radio. I’ve also written and presented pre-concert talks for audiences attending chamber music and orchestral concerts, and occasionally present guest lectures at schools and universities around the country.

I love doing all of these things. Because New Zealand is a small place, the music industry is an intimate environment and most of the people working in it know, respect and support each other. The projects we work on are usually low budget ones, but that gives us the opportunity to try things that people risking large sums of other people’s money might not.

I’ve worked with a wide range of New Zealand musicians and artists. My classical work has been commissioned, performed and/or recorded by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Auckland Philharmonia, the New Zealand String Quartet, NZTrio, Stroma, Michael Houstoun and Stephen de Pledge. In the popular music world, I’ve collaborated with artists like Neil Finn, Don McGlashan, Anika Moa, SJD, Shapeshifter and Nathan Haines. As a film composer I’ve worked with Peter Jackson, Jonathan King and Robert Sarkies among some others.

When it comes to influences, I don’t think there’s much rhyme or reason to my taste.

My favourite film is ‘2001’ by Stanley Kubrick.

If I had to name a film composer I loved above all others, it would probably have to be Bernard Herrmann. But my favourite soundtrack is still the original ‘Planet of the Apes’ by Jerry Goldsmith. I also hold Elmer Bernsteins’ ‘To Kill A Mockingbird’, Lalo Schifrin’s ‘Enter The Dragon’, Bernard Herrmann’s ‘Vertigo’, Wendy Carlos’ ‘A Clockwork Orange’ and Thomas Newman’s ‘Desperately Seeking Susan’ very dear.

When it comes to television, it must be said that the theme from ‘Knight Rider’ by Stu Phillips is pure genius. So is ‘Lost in Space’ by John Williams. And Joe Harnell’s gorgeous, melancholy piece at the end of ‘The Incredible Hulk’, when David Banner walks away from the camera in his torn trousers. But the greatest thing ever written for the small screen is, without a doubt, Gerald Fried’s fight music for the original Star Trek series. Curious? Watch it here.

In the world of classical music, J S Bach is my very favourite. At his right hand are Stravinsky, Schnittke, Ligeti, Brahms, Shostakovich, Adams and Adés… there is so much beautiful music, it’s hard to think about it in terms of a list.

Duke Ellington is my favourite Jazz composer and performer. ‘The Far East Suite’ is a wonder. I love Bill Frisell. It’s impossible not to love Miles Davis.  And I adore Ornette Coleman and think that ‘Change of the Century’ contains some of the most joyful music I have ever heard.

And as for popular music, Joni Mitchell, Stevie Wonder, Radiohead, Bill Callahan, Sufjan Stevens… there are so many… and yet, there can be only one. And he is Prince.

 

37 thoughts on “ About ”

  1. Victoria….you are a fabulous human being. Listening to some of your music then….brought me to tears. Much love and keep doing what you do so well. Vxx

  2. I loved reading this my friend – insightful, curious with your sense of humour shining through.

  3. Hi Victoria,
    You have such lovely music! Im doing an essay on working with Taonga Puoro in compositions (at Waikato University) and I’d love to ask you a few questions about your work with them.
    Thanks,
    Rachel Knox

  4. Hello Victoria, I’m interested in talking to either you, or your agent about possibly composing a film score for a drama series for the ABC. Have you an email or number we might be able to contact you on? Thanks. sami.booth@screentime.co.nz

  5. G’day Victoria. Great stuff. Out Of The Blue was on TV here recently and being a composer I noticed your score. It was very fitting. I remember a section sounding very Thomas Newman-esque. Nice!
    I wish you all the best.
    Michael.

  6. Hello Victoria,
    Hope you got my emails last year re performing your Landscape Prelude in my decade-by-decade recitals of NZ piano music at Auckland Public Library. A lovely piece. I performed it again last month at Wellington Cathedral, in their concert series – oddly named ‘Thank God It’s Friday!’
    Best wishes with future composing,
    William Green (composer/pianist, Auckland)

  7. Just saw you on the wonderful Neil Finn webcast! You were amazing, as well as the 9 piece strings. Did you and Neil collaborate on all of the songs on Dizzy Heights? I’ve had a wee listen on Itunes and am blown away by them!

    1. Hi Jojo, thanks so much! I haven’t seen the webcast yet. I’m looking forward to seeing it when it’s up on the website. I worked on 9 songs altogether (2 of which aren’t on the album). And I was blown away when I first heard the songs too. You have a real treat in store when the album comes out. I know I’m a bit biased, but it really is wonderful and there’s something new to hear every time you listen.

  8. Your string compositions on the Neil Finn songs showcased on the webcast are light and haunting, joyous and grim. In another word, beautiful. Sitting here in the US, I was transfixed. Thank you. Oh, by the way, I saw Prince on the Lovesexy tour with my college sweetheart and future wife. Still her favorite concert, and she loves country music. Will we see you with Neil on his tour in the new year

    1. Hi Scott. Thanks so much! They were wonderful songs to work on and the album is a whole other world of sound too – with lots of beautiful details and abstractions. I know the songs pretty well now, but I’m not even remotely tired of listening to them – which is always a good litmus test for music, I find! I’ve only seen Prince play live once, in Melbourne last year. It was my 40th Birthday present to myself. I screamed and cried like a teenager. It would have been amazing to have seen his Lovesexy Tour – and I also wish I’d seen him with the Revolution during the Purple Rain era too… that would have been pretty raw and extraordinary. I’m so glad you enjoyed the webcast!

  9. Dear Victoria Kelly,

    I am a film music composer and I live in Italy. I had
    the chance to watch the film “Under the mountain”
    and enjoyed your music.

    Would you be interested in a collaboration? Sometimes
    in my film scores I use additional music of other composers.
    Do you use as well additional music in your film scores?

    I won three Awards for the film score of the thriller “Giallo”
    with Adrien Brody and I have 25 years of experience.
    http://www.marcowerba.com/index.php/giallo

    I have been music assistant to Jerry Goldsmith on the music
    of “Leviathan”. I guess that we have the same music tastes..

    Kind regards,
    Marco Werba
    marcowerba@gmail.com

    1. Hi Marco, I’m so glad you enjoyed Under the Mountain. I actually haven’t collaborated on film scores in the way that you’re describing – though I have worked in partnerships on a few projects with a couple of good composer/musician friends. In New Zealand, being a small industry (with one or two notable exceptions that operate quite separately to the local projects) composers are usually in that low-budget situation of having to do as much as we can on our own. It must have been wonderful working with Mr Goldsmith on Leviathan. I bet he was incredibly fast and fluent with what he was doing – at least, that’s how I imagine him. I’ll looking forward to visiting your site and listening to your work. I hope you’re having a great festive season.

  10. Hi Victoria,

    I nervously spoke to you about “Toi Huarewa” (which I completely failed to be able to pronounce) after Neil Finn’s show in New York last Thursday. I brought up my favorite composer, Bear McCreary, because I think your styles have a lot in common. Bear’s first job was working with composer Elmer Berstein, who you site as an influence. Bear has also produced a number of stunning modern works that incorporate traditional ethnic instruments from different cultures (duduk, biwa, shamisen, bansuris). I look forward to checking out more of your work. Hear a couple of my favorites by McCreary, who also scores The Walking Dead:

    “Among the Ruins”

    “Violence and Variations”

    “Prelude to War (for solo piano)” – Performed by Bear McCreary

    It was great to meet you and I’ve been really enjoying your recent performances with Neil Finn. I can’t wait to hear how the strings are incorporated into the finished Dizzy Heights album.

    -Adam

    1. Hi there. Thanks so much – it was lovely to meet you too and I was very touched that you enjoyed Toi Huarewa from such a great distance. I had a wonderful time working on that piece and collaborating with incredible people. Thanks for the links to Bear McCreary’s music. When Battlestar Galactica first came to TV here, I remember being very impressed with the score. I think you’ll love Neil’s new album. Apart from the strings (which I can’t possibly be objective about), it’s full of beautiful textures and musical details. I trust you’re keeping well and happy and enjoying the festive season.

  11. Hola Victoria! It’s been far too long you know, but after many years of searching I have finally found the perfect piece of music that I feel will allow us to pick up exactly where we left off all those years ago…

    Trust you’re doing well. Would love to catch up at some stage.

    All the best,

    James.

  12. Saw you and the Orchestra with Neil Finn last night . Amazing . Great feel . Great Sound and everyone on stage was in good spirit . Loved the Hair do and outfit Victoria 😉

  13. Dear Victoria,
    I recently went to the Neil Finn concert on 31 May 2015 at the Sydney Recital Hall.
    I am a massive Neil fan!!! I have to say though, when you came out on stage, you stole the show. Your exuberance and passion in what you were doing – performing, really had me captivated!
    It is so nice to see people smile from the inside out and loving what they do. Your Classical arrangements of Neil’s songs were stunning and the ACO played them well.
    Thank you for following your heart and sharing it with the audience through music.
    A new fan!
    Martha

    1. That’s part of the soundtrack that I wrote – but unfortunately it’s not available anywhere. The score is actually very short – the use of music in the film is minimal and wouldn’t come close to filling a CD. Sorry I can’t be more help, but I’m glad you like it!

  14. Thanks for the reply about Out Of The Blue, after a lot more searching I managed to find that exact piece of music on a New Zealand page, just a page with the entire track on, I managed to convert it via another source on my Mac and now have it on my iPod.

    It’s a lovely bit of music.

    Cheers

    Nick.

  15. Hi Victoria, I recently went to Neil Finn’s two solo shows in Melbourne back on the 27 & 29 May and I really enjoyed your work the the string arrangements on both the album and the live shows which made the songs work wonderfully well on his Dizzy Heights and his back catalogue. Thank you for sharing your experiences and look forward to what the future holds for you. You are an awesome talent!

  16. Hi Victoria, I just have to let you know how amazing the score for Under The Mountain is. The opening titles, my god, so chilling!

    Hope to hear more from you soon 🙂

  17. RIP Prince. My thoughts are with you too, Victoria. Back in 1991 at a student party in Grey Lynn your love and enthusiasm for the man and his music made me revise my views and become a fan too.

  18. Hi Victoria,

    I’m a 4th year student and composer at Canterbury University currently researching Orchestration Approaches in Film and its role in dramatic elements/narrative. It would be fantastic to have feedback from industry composers like yourself, who have experience in the specific area of orchestration for film. I was wondering if you have any time, if you could answer a few questions?

    1) What are your main considerations around instrumental/orchestral choice when you are writing a film score?
    2) How important is orchestration and choice of timbre to the dramatic elements of a film?
    3) In the current trends, are composers departing from the traditional orchestral approach in favour of more hybrid approaches?

    Any feedback would be greatly appreciated!
    Many thanks for your time,

    Matt

  19. Dear Victoria
    Mana Wahine was such a wonderful experience – there are very few performances where I walk out thinking I’d like to see/hear that again but this was one of them Please tell me where I can buy/listen to the music again!
    regards
    Susan

  20. Hi Victoria,

    Very happy to see you back with Neil, adding such great textures and counterpoints to his compositions. You bring an effervescence to the music and the room that I find very appealing and positive. I watched the 1st webcast today and I would vote for Take 3 for More than One of You. That is such a beautiful song; the strings were on fleek as the kids would say. Any possibility of live shows with the beautiful and uber -talented choir? We definitely need to see The Horny Couch on stage at least once. Neil Finn and The Horny Couch, not exactly Hedwig and The Angry Inch, but still maybe too risqué? Maybe an after hours show? Funny nonetheless. Enjoy the recordings! Thanks, Scott
    N.B. Oh, I almost forgot, my niece is seeing The Revolution tonight. May our dear Prince Rest In Peace! Wendy and Lisa and the boys will keep him close to our hearts.

    1. Thanks so much Scott. It’s been a huge, mad and wonderful process. We’re doing the whole album next week on Friday (25th of August) – so, that’s 11 songs with orchestra and choir. There are many gorgeous songs still to be revealed – including my own favourites that haven’t been hinted at yet. It would be wonderful to perform the album live in concert… I don’t know if Neil has plans for that, but I’ll try and talk him into it. How amazing that your niece is seeing the Revolution. You must know that Wendy and Lisa worked with Neil on One Nil, right? I’ve never met them of course (and it’s probably best that I never do, as I doubt I would retain any semblance of dignity) but poor Neil has had to listen patiently to my tales of unabashed adoration and worship for Wendy and Lisa on many occasions… they were my heroes growing up. Such smart, talented people – I loved what they contributed to Prince’s extraordinary catalogue (the music he made with them remains my favourite music of all) and also what they went on to do later, in so many capacities as solo artists, collaborators and screen composers. Anyway… I hope you love the album. Cheers, V x

  21. Hi Victoria, Sadly I missed out on Prince with the Revolution, (I did see him on the Lovesexy tour with the incomparable Sheila E. Still the the benchmark for pop concerts I’ve had the pleasure to
    experience) . Wendy and Lisa added so many elements to Prince’s music; I loved the eclectic stylings from 1999 to some of Sign o’ the Times. I think they did the same with Neil on One Nil. From what I’ve read, they loved working with Neil. Hearing those One Nil songs on webcast 3 was a great reminder of that album’s alchemy.

    Speaking of the 3rd webcast, songs like Chameleon Days, Serious in Love (LOVE LOVE LOVE that ska infusion) and the old timey Still Got It (EJ and James absolutely nailed it) really blew me away. The little snippet of Love is Emotional from webcast 1 has me at a high level of anticipation. I hear a harmony that is so beautiful. Reminds me a bit of Brian Wilson. I’m curious to learn about your favorites after the album is released.

    I know you have an intense week ahead so I will stop
    blabbering. I will be setting my alarm for 3am on Friday here in the States. Have a great week! Scott

    BTW it’s lovely to see and hear all the wonderful Bellbirds in the same room again. Neil’s choir is a treasure trove of beautiful voices.

  22. Hi Victoria – I’m so enjoying your work on the new Neil Finn set of songs. I’ve always loved that chamber pop sound – from She’s Leaving Home, Say You Don’t Mind and on and on. Neil’s songs wouldn’t be the same without your musical backing. Thanks so much – Nigel

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