I’m a composer, performer and producer of music – and also the Director of NZ Member Services 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, Finn Andrews, Don McGlashan, Anika Moa, SJD and Shapeshifter. 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.
Image credit: Amanda Ratcliffe // Amanda Shoots Bands 2018 – this photo was taken at SongHubs Auckland 2018 in Sharon Finn’s beautiful studio, ‘Sharondelier’.