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Sep 30, 2017

Nelson Composers Workshop 2017

From 9 – 13 July 2017, a team from Singapore comprising of composers Phang Kok Jun, Chew Jun An, Tan Yuting and Daniel Lim, a quartet from the Singapore Chinese Orchestra [Yuan Qi (huqin), Yu Jia (pipa), Tan Chye Tiong (dizi) and Ngoh Kheng Seng (Chinese percussion)] and their manager Loh Mee Joon, participated in the 36th CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop.

Photo credit: Michael Norris

The workshop, organized by Simon Eastwood and Tristan Carter, consisted of two concerts, both held at the Old St Johns Church in Nelson. The first, held on 10 July, was by the SCO quartet, and the second, on 12 July, was a concert of works by participant composers. 

Composer Chew Jun An’s piece “Waxing Moon” was performed by Jennifer Vaughn (flute), Yu Jia (pipa), Yuan Qi (erhu), Debbie Rawson (bass clarinet), Paul Mitchell (cello) and Michael Norris (conductor). Despite his piece breaking down in the middle and restarting, he said that “the musicians were very supportive and done everything they can in the limited rehearsal time”, and that it was a great experience working with the musicians.

Photo credit: Michael Norris

“Carried by the Wind”, a work by Tan Yuting, was performed by Shayne Harris (flute), Justin Dehart (percussion), Ngoh Keng Seng (Chinese percussion) and Yu Jia (pipa). She said that one of the most valuable experiences at Nelson was “hearing and getting to know the maori instruments, the taonga puoro, and meeting all the NZ composers!”

In addition to the concerts, there was another interesting activity, called “microscores”, in which composers collaborated with musicians to write very short pieces to be showcased on the last day of the festival. Composer Daniel Lim wrote a short dance-like piece for SCO’s Chinese percussionist, Ngoh Keng Seng. The composer said “My goal was to write some quick and efficient, and my natural reaction was to approach with something metered with a fixed structure”, and was surprised to see that his New Zealand counterparts took a different approach–being more experimental with a free structure.

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