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The New Zealand Trio

The New Zealand Trio

1-3. Island Songs John Psathas (I) 4:42 (II) 4:34 (III) 3:34


4. Sono Victoria Kelly


5. dirty pixels Michael Norris


6. A Feather of Blue Maria Grenfell


7. For Violin, Violoncello and Piano Penelope Axtens 9:50 8. Ahi Gareth Farr Trio 6:47 Scherzo 3:00 Interlude 1:16 Finale 5:28 Total



MMT2066 Digital Stereo Recording Š 2005 HRL Morrison Music Trust P 2005 HRL Morrison Music Trust

John Psathas (b.1966)

Island Songs (1995)

John Psathas is a freelance composer and teacher who – at a relatively early stage in his career – has established an international profile and receives regular commissions from organisations both in New Zealand and overseas. He studied composition and piano performance at Victoria University of Wellington, and continued studies in composition with Jacqueline Fontyn in Belgium before returning to New Zealand where he has since lectured in music at Victoria University while continuing to fulfil a busy schedule of commissions. His works are championed around the world by a growing number of leading international artists, one of the most consistent of whom has been the Scottish percussionist Evelyn Glennie. Initially making a name for himself as a composer of high-energy percussion music, more recently Psathas has concentrated on a series of larger-scale concertante works. A major career highlight to date has been the exposure he received as the composer of the music for the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens, Greece. The composer writes: These three pieces were each inspired by certain styles of Greek dance music. They are not so much simulations of these styles as they are my own reaction to them, and what I have responded to mostly is the unique energy of each of the dance types. The first piece involves a number of styles and reflects what I perceive as the latent energy in much of this music – although here it only surfaces from time to time. The second is a reaction to the great strength of the zeibekiko dance, which is in 9/4 time, and often extremely slow.

While not cast in the same time frame as a true zeibekiko, this movement does dwell upon the uncertainty of the downbeat and the intensely focused emotional content of this dance. The third piece is much in the style of the Sirto dance, whose energy is always lively and unfailingly contagious.

Originally composed in 1995, Island Songs exists in two versions. The first (for clarinet, cello and piano) was commissioned and premiered by the Kandinsky Ensemble, and the present adaptation for piano trio was made at the request of the Ogen Trio.

Victoria Kelly (b.1973)

Sono (2000)

Victoria Kelly studied the oboe at The University of Auckland before focusing on composition. She completed a Bachelor of Music in 1993 and while pursuing further study, she developed a passion for writing film music. After winning a TVNZ Young Achiever’s Award and receiving a professional development grant from Creative New Zealand in 1996, Kelly travelled to the United States to study film composition at the University of Southern California, where her teachers included Elmer Bernstein, Leonard Rosenman and Christopher Young. She has worked extensively in theatre in association with the New Zealand Actors’ Company, has a long-standing involvement with the Auckland band Strawpeople and has worked as a performer and arranger for artists as diverse as Greg Johnson, Anika Moa, Fiona McDonald and True Bliss. Victoria also appears as a guest lecturer in schools and universities around the country.

The composer writes: The idea for this piece began with the Portuguese word sono which describes the feeling of wanting to go to sleep – but in a mental rather than a physical way. In the case of this piece, the desire for sleep is inspired by wanting to rejoin a dream – and in my experience, it is always impossible to do this once having woken up. The trio begins with an impassioned event which soon disappears, leaving the piano alone to dream about it – and you will hear a repeating note emerge which sits throughout the music, representing the real world lingering in the background. Around this note, the dreams wander, in chords and gestures on the piano, and in deep breaths and ascending melodies on the strings, which never quite seem to arrive at their destination.

Sono was commissioned by the Turnovsky Trio in 1999.

Michael Norris (b.1973)

dirty pixels (2004)

Michael Norris was born in Dunedin and studied composition at Victoria University of Wellington and City University, London. He was composer-inresidence with the Southern Sinfonia (Dunedin) in 2001 and the Mozart Fellow at Otago University in 2002. His orchestral work Rays of the Sun, Shards of the Moon was awarded the Douglas Lilburn Prize in 2003. He is a cofounder and co-director of the new music ensemble Stroma, and he currently lectures in composition and musicianship at Victoria University of Wellington.

Recent projects include a solo piano piece for Indonesian pianist Ananda Sukarlan, a piece for musical saw and tape for Dutch percussionist Arnold Marinissen, and a solo guitar work for British guitarist Michael McCartney. Future projects include a work for chamber ensemble and saxophone to be premiered by Stroma with Swiss saxophonist Lars Mlekusch, a new solo piano work for Stephen de Pledge and a concerto for the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s 2006 season. The composer writes: dirty pixels was written in response to two stimuli: an exhibition of the same name (curator, Stella Brennan) in the Adam Art Gallery featuring New Zealand artwork of a certain rough-hewn, ‘gritty’ nature; and hearing the work Jagden und Formen by German composer Wolfgang Rihm, an unremittingly wild and preposterous discourse of extremes. These two stimuli caused something of an aesthetic dilemma: leaving behind my rather French fondness for euphonious washes of sound, I became interested in the characteristics of ‘roughness’ and ‘raggedness’, and in how a ‘pure’ conceptual scheme, such as the quite systematic construction I had formulated just prior to starting this piece, became ‘dirtied’ by intuition, by the exigencies of the material and by the reality of having it performed.

dirty pixels was commissioned by the New Zealand Trio, with funding from Creative New Zealand.

Maria Grenfell (b.1969)

A Feather of Blue (2000)

Maria Grenfell was born in Malaysia and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand. She received music degrees from the University of Canterbury and the Eastman

School of Music, and a doctorate from the University of Southern California, where she also lectured. Grenfell’s work takes much of its influence from poetic, literary and visual sources and from non-Western music and literature. Her orchestral and chamber music has been performed in the USA, South Africa and Mexico as well as in New Zealand and Australia. Maria has been a violinist with the Christchurch Symphony and the New Zealand Youth Orchestra. She is currently a lecturer at the Conservatorium of Music of the University of Tasmania in Hobart. The composer writes: A Feather of Blue takes its title from a phrase in the poem A View From A Window by New Zealand writer Kevin Ireland. I have always admired the wry humour and brightness of Kevin Ireland’s writing and many years ago set three of his poems for soprano and mixed ensemble. As a kind gesture Mr Ireland sent me a copy of his book Skinning A Fish, and I was particularly struck by the imagery of colours, flowers, feathers and birds in this poem mentioned above, which depicts rain pouring down a window pane and giving way to a burst of sunshine after a storm.

Penelope Axtens (b.1974)

For Violin, Violoncello and Piano (1999)

Currently based in London, Penelope Axtens completed an Honours degree in Composition at the University of Auckland, and a Masters degree at Victoria University of Wellington in 1999. She won the inaugural Music 2000 Prize awarded by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and Concert FM for her orchestral work Part the Second, which was subsequently performed and broadcast throughout New Zealand. Part of the prize was a commission

from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra for a 20-minute orchestral work, which resulted in From the Sixth Hour; this premiered in October 2002. Axtens has had works performed by 175 East, the Turnovsky Trio and other contemporary music ensembles. The composer writes: For Violin, Violoncello and Piano was completed in 1999 for the final year of my Masters degree. It was first performed at the Nelson Composers Workshop that year by Mark Menzies, Katherine Hebley and Donald Nicholson. Here it received the Workshop prize, and later in the year the work also received the main prize in the Victoria University School of Music Composition Competition. The piece follows no programmatic ‘storyline’ but moves rather within shifting emotional sound-worlds. The opening is very ‘inward’, and the intensity eventually builds and explodes into areas of anger or yearning, or maybe something far more subconscious and indefinable. Moments of beauty surface above the intensity, and the journey ends having come full circle – introspective, transcendent, resigned.

Gareth Farr (b.1968)

Ahi (1998)

Gareth Farr was born in Wellington, New Zealand. He began his studies in composition and percussion performance at The University of Auckland. The experience of hearing a visiting gamelan orchestra prompted his return to Wellington to attend Victoria University, where the characteristic rhythms and textures of the Indonesian gamelan rapidly became hallmarks of his own composition. Farr continued with postgraduate study in composition and

percussion at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, where his teachers included Samuel Adler and Christopher Rouse. In 1993, at the age of 25, Farr was appointed composer-in-residence by Chamber Music New Zealand, the youngest-ever composer to hold that position. At the conclusion of the residence, Farr returned to the Eastman School to begin a doctorate in composition. The inclusion of his works in four events at the 1996 New Zealand International Festival of the Arts kick-started his career as a dedicated freelance composer. Since then, his music has been heard at, or especially commissioned for high-profile events including the 50th anniversary of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (the 25-minute From the Depths Sound the Great Sea Gongs), the opening of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa and the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney. In addition to his music for the concert chamber, Farr has written music for dance, theatre and television. Recently he composed the score for the major theatrical production Maui. The composer writes: Ahi is the Maori word for fire. This work stands in extreme contrast to anything I have written before. I have experimented with stripping away the density of past compositions to let the simplicity of line come through and speak for itself, to explore classical clarity in a work for piano trio. Ahi was written for the Ogen Trio – ogen is the Bulgarian word for fire, and I wanted to link the piece to them by the inclusion of a reference to fire.

The New Zealand Trio, Ensemble in Residence at The University of Auckland.

Comprising three of the country’s most outstanding and successful young musicians, the New Zealand Trio has quickly established itself on the national landscape, as evidenced by its inclusion in the 2004 New Zealand International Arts Festival and a highly successful tour for Chamber Music New Zealand in May 2004. Internationally, the trio has performed in major universities in the United States as well as key main-stream concert venues such as St. Martin-in-the-Fields in London during its tour of the United States and United Kingdom in January and February 2004. In July 2004 the ensemble took up residency at the The University of Auckland, a partnership which demonstrates a joint commitment to the continued growth of a vibrant creative arts environment in this country. With the University’s support, the Trio is commissioning the work of leading New Zealand composers, broadening interest in and access to chamber music in New Zealand, and is an important ambassador on the international stage for New Zealand and New Zealand music.

Justine Cormack, violin

Justine Cormack appears regularly around New Zealand as a recitalist, chamber musician, adjudicator and concerto soloist. She is the former concertmaster of the Auckland Philharmonia, has been a member of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and New Zealand Chamber Orchestra and was concertmaster of the National Youth Orchestra. A graduate of the University of Canterbury, studying with Jan Tawroszevicz, Cormack went on to complete a Master of Music degree at the San Francisco Conservatory with Isadore Tinkleman and a Doctor of Musical Arts degree at the State University of New York at Stony Brook under Joyce Robbins and Mitchell Stern. Cormack has taught violin at Victoria University of Wellington and she now balances her role as performing artist with that of teacher at The University of Auckland. Cormack has been singled out for many awards, including a TVNZ Young Achievers Award, two QEII Arts Council Grants, a Fulbright Scholarship, and an NZSO Alex Lindsay Memorial Award and was runner up in the 1990 TVNZ Young Musicians’ competition.

Ashley Brown, cello

Besides his many local performances as a soloist and chamber musician, Ashley Brown has played in New York, London, Paris, Brussels, Munich and elsewhere in Europe, America and Asia. As a recording artist, Ashley has worked with composers Victoria Kelly and Joel Haines, and with songwriters Bic Runga, King Kapisi and Mark de Clive-Lowe. He has also performed live with Anika Moa and Mahinarangi Tocker. Brown has taught cello at the Universities of Waikato and Canterbury and now teaches at The University of Auckland. He has been principal cellist of the National Youth Orchestra, the Yale Philharmonia and the Auckland Philharmonia, and was cellist of the Turnovsky Trio. Brown studied at the University of Canterbury with Alexander Ivashkin, graduating master of music with distinction. During this time he won the TVNZ Young Musicians’ competition, the CCMC National Concerto competition and a special prize at the IPSL music competition in London. He spent two years studying with Aldo Parisot at Yale University, graduating with the artist diploma, and six months with William Pleeth in London before returning to New Zealand.

Sarah Watkins, piano

Sarah Watkins is an active chamber musician, collaborative partner, touring and recording artist. She performs frequently throughout New Zealand, and has performed in Japan, England and the United States with some of America’s leading instrumentalists. Sarah has given master-classes in accompanying and chamber music, has been an official pianist at national and international competitions, and has also acted as an adjudicator for competitions. A graduate of the University of Canterbury, Watkins went on to complete a Master of Music degree and a Doctorate of Musical Arts in collaborative piano at the Juilliard School, New York. During her subsequent time in the United States, she was a staff pianist at the Juilliard School, Yale University and the Aspen Music Festival, and was the co-ordinator of the collaborative piano program at the Music Academy of the West in Santa Barbara, California. Watkins has been a member of the music faculty of Purchase College, New York, and now teaches at The University of Auckland.

Gretchen Albrecht (b. 1943), Core, 1994, lithograph, 605 x 800mm. Collection of the University of Auckland.

Gretchen Albrecht has exhibited in New Zealand and internationally for more than 35 years. Recent work has appeared in exhibitions in both Europe and the USA, including the exhibition Decades at Robert Steele Gallery, New York and a major survey exhibition Illuminations held at the Auckland Art Gallery in 2002. A retrospective exhibition of oval and hemispherical paintings, accompanied by recent works on paper and editions will be shown at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery in early 2005, before travelling to the City Gallery in Wellington later in the year. Albrecht’s work as an abstract artist has evolved from the rectangular stained canvases of the late seventies into a pair of signature formats, the hemisphere (half circle) and the oval, shapes that she associates with particular meanings and states of mind. In the resulting works resonant combinations of colour and geometry create images with a clear poetic impulse in which references to landscape, family and the cosmos act as emotional points of departure. Early in 2000 Pohutukawa (The Cicada’s Song) a commissioned work was installed in the newly developed foyer of the Royal & Sun Alliance building in Shortland Street, Auckland, while later the same year a work of similar scale was installed in the renovated Air New Zealand first class lounge at Sydney’s International Airport.

The HRL Morrison Music Trust was established in March 1995 as a charitable trust to support New Zealand musicians of international calibre. All funds received by the Trust are used to make recordings, present concerts – both in New Zealand and overseas – and assist artists to undertake projects to further develop their talents.

New Zealand Trio MMT2066 © 2005 HRL Morrison Music Trust P 2005 HRL Morrison Music Trust

Recorded in the Music Theatre, The University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand, 7-9 September 2004 Producer Marc Taddei Digital Mastering Wayne Laird Recording Engineer Paul McGlashan Executive Producer Ross Hendy Design Cato Partners The music of John Psathas and Gareth Farr is published exclusively by Promethean Editions Ltd. Island Songs © Promethean Editions Ahi © Promethean Editions

HRL Morrison Music Trust PO Box 1395 Wellington, New Zealand The HRL Morrison Music Trust gratefully acknowledges the support of the following people and organisations in the making of this recording: Robyn Hill, Natasa Kruscic, The University of Auckland Art Collection.


The New Zealand Trio

1-3. Island Songs (I) 4:42 (II) 4:34 (III) 3:34

John Psathas


4. Sono

Victoria Kelly


5. dirty pixels

Michael Norris


6. A Feather of Blue

Maria Grenfell 9:57

7. For Violin, Violoncello and Piano

Penelope Axtens 9:50

8. Ahi Trio 6:47 Scherzo 3:00 Interlude 1:16 Finale 5:28

Gareth Farr 16:31

Total Time


MMT2066 Digital Stereo Recording Š 2005 HRL Morrison Music Trust P 2005 HRL Morrison Music Trust

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