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After Lilburn - a celebration of our gay composers

Thu 21 Feb 2013 In: Music View at Wayback View at NDHA

A young Douglas Lilburn A landmark Pride Festival concert in Auckland tomorrow (Friday) night will present music from nine of New Zealand's most prominent composers in a variety of music genres, all of whom are gay. Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001) himself is known as the 'grandfather of New Zealand composition.' "He forged a career as a composer without compromise, and has left a remarkable legacy," says the After Lilburn concert's curator Samuel Holloway, "not only through his creative work, but also in terms of the institutions he was involved in and the way he assisted in the development of many composers that came after him." "So many of the finest composers in New Zealand are gay and lesbian – and I thought it was time we celebrated that fact," says Holloway. "Also, while Lilburn's work is relatively well known, he isn’t often discussed as a gay composer. The major biography of him barely deals with this fact. But I think that his homosexuality is not inconsequential, and this concert is in part a way of acknowledging this." This will be a unique opportunity to hear work by each of the composers "in a distinctly queer context," according to Holloway. "It will be an important and rare celebration of our cultural heritage." The composers chosen have a very broad range of "stylistic approaches and compositional concerns." "If there is a commonality it is their undoubted creativity and originality. They are not just some of the best queer composers in New Zealand, they are some of the best composers, period. Whether there is a ‘gay sensibility’ that can be located in the work of these composer remains, I think, an open question…" Those composers range from key figures such as Jack Body (b. 1944), to some of our best emerging composers such as Alex Taylor, (b. 1988). "I've tried to demonstrate the range of approaches that these composers take in their work. The concert includes, for example, a moving lament for soprano by Annea Lockwood (I give you back), a tribute to Tane-Mahuta by Gareth Farr (Waipoua), and Jack Body’s Meditations on Michelangelo, a work which “honours male beauty and laments the ravages of age”. Many in the glbti communities will be familiar with the choral music of David Hamilton, who has worked a number of times with the Gay And Lesbian Singers who have premiered several of his works. "I very pleased that we’ll be presenting two pieces from the '80s by David for solo flute, to be performed by Luca Manghi, which present a very different side of his compositional practice. I’m also thrilled that the NZTrio will be performing Claire Cowan’s utterly beguiling wood : strings : hammers : flesh, alongside my own work Stapes," Holloway says. Holloway is excited about the overall quality of performances that the audience will get to experience tomorrow night. "It will feature a range of performers, from the established to the emerging. I am very pleased that the NZ Trio, one of New Zealand’s foremost chamber groups, are part of the concert, as well as visiting violinist Mark Menzies, who has received international acclaim for his performances of new music. The stunning soprano Claire Scholes and flautist Luca Manghi will also be performing, alongside the outstanding recent graduates Flavio Villani (piano) and Finn Schofield (clarinet)." There will be something for most musical tastes, Holloway says, glancing over the programme, "with the music ranging from the gentle and lyrical to more dramatic and experimental. No musical knowledge whatsoever is required. Some notes will be provided to help guide listeners through the concert, but the most important thing is to come with an open mind and be ready to have a new musical experience." The individual pieces range from a few to fifteen minutes in length, "and there will be a brief interval for a quick glass of wine!" Holloway notes that the Lantern Festival, focused on Albert Park close to the School of Music's theatre at Auckland University, has just started and he suggests that people attending After Lilburn should be sure to leave sufficient time to find parking. After Lilburn Friday 22 February, 8pm Music Theatre, School of Music Adults $25, Concession $15 Bookings:, or 09 361 1000, or Real groovy or Conch Records - 21st February 2013    


First published: Thursday, 21st February 2013 - 3:31pm

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