03 Feb 2021

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Music scholarships help Kiwi composers and musicians gain international experience

More than 90 Kiwi composers and musicians have been supported by Creative New Zealand music scholarships over the past 30 years to pursue international professional development opportunities, including five recently announced recipients.

Creative New Zealand Senior Manager – Arts Development Services, Cath Cardiff says, “It’s fantastic to see these talented people making the most of funding we offer with the help of generous private donors, to further their studies overseas. Like those who’ve gone before them, I’m sure their careers will blossom from these valuable experiences.”

As well as music scholarships, Creative New Zealand funds a wide range of classical and contemporary music projects through arts grants, special projects and investment clients. This totalled $11.2 million in the 2017/18 financial year, 28% of our total investment by artform.

Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship

The Edwin Carr Foundation was established in 2004, with support from the estate of New Zealand composer, the late Edwin Carr. Twenty Kiwi composers have since received scholarships to help them further their music studies overseas.

Tony Carr, Advisory Trustee of the Edwin Carr Foundation and Edwin Carr’s brother, says, “My brother Edwin was a passionate composer and teacher and spent much of his life encouraging young New Zealanders to hone their skills in music. He would be thrilled to see that Creative New Zealand has again been able to identify two outstanding candidates for support. Members of the Carr family will follow the progress of Jasmine and Alex with great interest and we all offer our congratulations and best wishes.”

Alex Taylor

Composer and musician Alex Taylor will receive $21,850 towards completing a PhD in Composition at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD).

"I'm very excited to begin the PhD Composition programme at UCSD. It's one of the most prestigious schools in the United States, particularly known as a centre of innovation and collaboration across disciplines. UCSD is unique in having a doctoral performance programme alongside the composition programme, meaning that in depth and long-lasting collaborations are formed,” Alex says.

“New Zealanders may know composer Celeste Oram (2014 Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship recipient), who is just coming to the end of her PhD at UCSD. Through a show Celeste and I worked on together, Tautitotito, which was presented at the Darmstadt Ferienkurse last year (and received Creative New Zealand Funding), I came into contact with a great group of UCSD graduate students, and was drawn to apply for the composition programme.”

“For me this is an opportunity to really extend myself musically in a competitive but supportive environment, and an important next step in my career path as a composer. I am grateful for the support of the Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship: this is a significant funding boost and will allow me to throw myself headlong into this new chapter."

Alex’s works have been commissioned and performed by prominent artists and ensembles, including the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra, NZTrio, Enso Quartet, Stephen de Pledge, Alexandra Smither, and the New Zealand Youth Choir.

Alex has received a number of awards, including the 2012 SOUNZ Contemporary Award for his orchestral work [inner], the 2013 CANZ Trust Fund Award and, in 2016, an Arts Foundation New Generation Award. Alex has held residencies with the Caselberg Trust, the Auckland Youth Orchestra, and the National Youth Orchestra of New Zealand, and was a Composition Fellow of the 2017 Tanglewood Music Center (an annual summer music academy in Lenox, Massachusetts, USA).

More on Tautitotito on Celeste Oram’s website.

Jasmine Lovell-Smith Photo: Michael Dunham.
Jasmine Lovell-Smith Photo: Michael Dunham.

Jasmine Lovell-Smith

Composer and soprano saxophonist Jasmine Lovell-Smith will receive $3,150 towards a residency led by composer/improviser Nicole Mitchell at the Atlantic Center for the Arts, Florida, USA.

Jasmine says “I’m really grateful to have the support of the Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship to attend the Nicole Mitchell residency. Nicole Mitchell is one of the world's foremost composer/improvisers, and this workshop provides a unique opportunity to learn from her in collaborative, hands-on environment."

Jasmine’s work explores the intersections of jazz, folk, free improvisation and chamber music. She has released two albums with her New York based quintet Towering Poppies, and composed for jazz and chamber ensembles including Stroma, the JAC, the CODE quartet and Loadbang (NYC).

Having graduated from Wesleyan University (Middletown, Connecticut) with a Master of Arts in Composition, Jasmine is currently a Doctor of Musical Arts candidate in composition at the New Zealand School of Music, working with John Psathas. An active member of the Wellington jazz scene, Jasmine performs regularly with her own ensembles, including the Noveltones and the Jasmine Lovell-Smith Quintet, and as part of composers’ collective the Arthur Street Loft Orchestra.

Salina Fisher returning for Te Kōkī residency

Salina Fisher Photo: Hagen Hopkins.
Salina Fisher Photo: Hagen Hopkins

In July, composer Salina Fisher, a member of the Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship alumni, returns to New Zealand to take up the Creative New Zealand Composer-in-Residence for 2019 at Victoria University of Wellington's New Zealand School of Music—Te Kōkī.

Salina received an Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship in both 2017 and 2018, to support her in completing her Master of Music in Composition at the Manhattan School of Music, New York. She graduated in May this year, winning the Carl Kanter Award in Orchestral Composition for her thesis work Murmuring Light.

Salina says, “I am extremely thrilled and grateful to have this opportunity to return to Wellington and focus on creating new works. Wellington has inspired several of my pieces so far, and I am beyond excited to feel its energy again and reconnect with its creative community through the New Zealand School of Music.”

Salina plans to work on a number of new pieces, including one for shakuhachi, koto, viola and cello, a new piano trio, and an orchestral work featuring pūtōrino.

Full announcement: Award-winning composer and violinist announced as Composer-in-Residence

See previous Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship recipients

Jack McGill Music Scholarship

Established in 1985 with a bequest from the estate of the late Jack Wynnegate McGill, the Jack McGill Music Scholarship enables young music practitioners, primarily pianists, to undertake advanced studies or investigations into music overseas. Some 43 music practitioners have received a scholarship since the fund was established.

Siyu Sun Photo: Heather Milne.
Siyu Sun Photo: Heather Milne.

Siyu Sun

Pianist Siyu Sun will receive $6,500 towards her studies for a Masters in Performance (Piano) at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, London, UK.

Siyu began piano studies at the age of four, and is currently studying with Associate Professor Rae de Lisle at The University of Auckland. She has appeared as soloist with the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and Wellington Chamber Orchestra.

Siyu was awarded the 2018 Blues Award for Most Meritorious Performance in the Arts and Culture, and was the fourth prizewinner of the 2017 Lev Vlassenko Piano Competition in Brisbane, where she won the Best New Zealand Pianist Award and the Virtuoso Prize.

Earlier in 2017, Siyu took first prize in the National Concerto Competition, and second prize in the Wallace National Piano Competition. A passionate chamber musician, Siyu’s piano quartet also won the Auckland Chamber Music Society Prize that year.

Siyu has performed in the NZSO National Youth Orchestra on both French horn and orchestral piano.

See previous Jack McGill Music Scholarship recipients

New Zealand/Aotearoa Music Scholarship

The New Zealand/Aotearoa Music Scholarships help young musicians further their music studies in New Zealand or overseas at a recognised tertiary institution. The scholarships were established in 2009 with a bequest from the estate of the late Brent Lewis, and 15 musicians have now received a scholarship.

Alexander Arai-Swale Photo supplied.
Alexander Arai-Swale Photo supplied

Alexander Arai-Swale

Alexander Arai-Swale will receive $9,600 towards a Master of Music in Double Bass at the Hochschule für Musik Hanns Eisler, Berlin, Germany.

Alexander played the cello from the age of six and, while completing his music degree at the University of Waikato, toured the UK for two months with his cello quartet, as a recipient of the 2014 Pettman/Royal Over-Seas League Arts International Chamber Music Scholarship. This included performing at London’s St Martin-in-the-Fields and the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.

Alexander formally changed his major to double bass in 2015, inspired by occasional lessons from Hiroshi Ikematsu, followed by regular lessons with Joan Perarnau-Garriga. He attended the Australian National Academy of Music (ANAM), and in his first year was a finalist in the ANAM Concerto Competition. He received the Audience Prize after performing with the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Johannes Fritzsch. He was recently chosen from past and present ANAM musicians for a position at the Berlin Philharmonic’s Karajan Academy, and will play with them from September this year. Alexander also received the St. Silas ANAM Achievement Award for the best first-year musician.

In Berlin already, he says “in the last couple of weeks I have been able to perform with the Berliner Philharmoniker, an experience that I am still trying to wrap my head around. I am learning so much here, and it is thanks to institutions such as Creative New Zealand and the good people behind this scholarship in particular, who are affording me these kinds of experiences.”

“I hope my story thus far can encourage others to go outside of their comfort zone and work hard knowing that this scholarship is ready to support their pursuits overseas.”

William McNeill

Hornist William McNeill has been awarded $5,251 towards continuing his Master of Music in French Horn at the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, Wiemar, Germany. William is studying under Munich Philharmonic Solo-horn Jörg Brückner. Entry to the course is highly competitive and William was one of three accepted of the 25 auditioning. Originally from Palmerston North, William recently completed his Bachelor of Music at Codarts Conservatory of the Arts, Rotterdam, The Netherlands.

As well as regularly playing with professional orchestras, such as the Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, William has begun taking professional orchestral and academy auditions, and aims to become a Solo-horn in a world-class professional orchestra.

William says, "Professor Jörg Brückner knows exactly what I need to improve to get to the next level of my playing and is incredibly dedicated, ensuring each of his students plays to their potential. Thanks to the Creative New Zealand and the New Zealand/Aotearoa Music Scholarship, I can focus on the horn and make the most of the time I have with Professor Brückner.

“We all think music should be 100% organic, but I’m learning that by planning everything first, you free yourself to concentrate on what you want to say, without the technique suffering. Planning is especially important for orchestral auditions, where everyone has only a few minutes to convince the jury. Since beginning my studies at the University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar, I have found myself progressing to second, third and final rounds for professional orchestra auditions. While a first round may contain 15-30 players, already the second round will consist of around 4-8 players."

New Zealand/Aotearoa Music Scholarship

William McNeill Photo: Ales Schröder.
William McNeill Photo: Alex Schröder.

Butland Music Scholarship

A fourth scholarship opportunity, the Butland Music Scholarship, was established in 1994 by a bequest from Jack Malfroy Butland. It was not offered in 2019, but you can see some previous recipients on our website.

Butland Music Scholarship