28 Aug 2009
The three finalists selected for the 2009 SOUNZ Contemporary Award include a multi-media work written in response to the 1970’s Cambodian genocide, a symphony inspired by the imagery of painter Marc Chagall, and a piano concerto which at one point requires the performer to leap up from their seat to play inside the piano. They are My Name is Mok Bhon by Jack Body, Symphony III by Ross Harris and Volti by Michael Norris.
The SOUNZ Contemporary Award is a project of both the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA) and the Centre for New Zealand Music (SOUNZ). The award invites composers who are APRA members to submit two works which have been premiered in the previous year. SOUNZ convenes a panel of experts to assess the entries on artistic criteria including compositional excellence and inspiration.
Scilla Askew, Executive Director of SOUNZ comments: "The SOUNZ Contemporary Award is the most prestigious annual prize for composers offered in New Zealand. There were a record-breaking 35 entries this year representing every area of composition: from electroacoustic and multimedia to choral, chamber, orchestral, concerto and solo works."
My Name is Mok Bhon by Jack Body, a work for orchestra with video images and sounds, was premiered by the NZSO conducted by Hamish McKeich, in their Made in New Zealand concert in May, 2009. The panel agreed the work has an undeniable emotional impact through its subject but they were particularly intrigued by the way in which Body was able to evoke an Asian sound world by transcribing music of other cultures for Western orchestral instruments.
Symphony III by Ross Harris was premiered by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra conducted by Marko Letonja, in August 2008. As well as Chagall, Ross admits to klezmer influences and the instrumentation includes a solo accordionist. In choosing this work as a finalist, the panel were impressed by Harris’ “amazing control of counterpoint and fresh, sophisticated musical language."
Volti by Michael Norris is a work for piano and orchestra premiered in Seoul, Korea as one of the New Zealand pieces selected for the 2009 Asian Composers League Conference and Festival in April, 2009. The panel enjoyed the theatricality inherent in the work and agreed that the work held their attention.
"The calibre of the entries this year was particularly strong," Scilla Askew notes, "and reflects the level of commitment and creativity to be found in the work of New Zealand composers. We can only hope that many of these works will be given further performances or broadcasts so that a much wider audience can enjoy and experience the rich and diverse music being created and performed in this country."
The 2009 SOUNZ Contemporary Award winner will be announced, along with the winners of the APRA Silver Scroll and APRA Maioha Awards, on Thursday 17 September. This year the event will be held in Christchurch for the first time. The SOUNZ Contemporary Award consists of a trophy and $3000 cash prize from APRA. The trophy was designed and made by Auckland sculptor Sarah Smuts Kennedy and depicts a bronze fern frond mounted on a shaped oak and ebony base.
The finalist works and composers:
SOUNZ Contemporary Award (including a list of previous finalists)
SOUNZ, Centre for New Zealand Music
APRA, Australasian Performing Right Association
For hi-res images of the award or composers, or for further information, contact :
SOUNZ: marketing coordinator
04 801 8602
PO Box 10042