Taonga pūoro specialist announced as Composer-in-Residence

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Released: 14 Feb 2017
Filed under: Composition | Staff

Victoria University of Wellington’s Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music (NZSM) has announced New Zealand artist Rob Thorne (Ngati Tumutumu, Hauraki, Tainui) as the next Creative New Zealand/Jack C. Richards Composer-in-Residence.

Mr Thorne is a Palmerston North musician of 25 years’ experience, who has spent the last 15 of those years researching, playing and performing taonga pūoro—traditional Māori instruments.

Mr Thorne has experience in bands and solo performance, predominantly within alternative rock, free noise, experimental, and improvisational sound art. His work since 2001 with traditional Māori musical instruments has seen him recently complete a Master of Arts in Social Anthropology and in 2014 he published the album Whaia te Maramatanga with Rattle Records, a solo album of original taonga pūoro compositions. Recently he collaborated with NZSM composition graduate Salina Fisher, resulting in Fisher’s “Tōrino – echoes on pūtōrino improvisations by Rob Thorne” for the New Zealand String Quartet.

NZSM Acting Director Dugal McKinnon says: “Rob has demonstrated both an innovative and sustaining approach to the traditions he is engaged with, with excellent cross-disciplinary musical outcomes. He will have a stimulating influence on both the NZSM and Wellington’s musical community.

“Rob brings with him an intensity, passion and an openness that enables wider engagement with taonga pūoro and Māoritanga. We’re greatly looking forward to his time with us.”

Mr Thorne will move to Wellington in July 2017 to take up residence in the former Thorndon home of celebrated New Zealand composer the late Douglas Lilburn. He will be NZSM’s fourteenth composer-in-residence.

In his time at NZSM, Mr Thorne will work on collaborative and solo works, all involving taonga pūoro.

“The NZSM offers one of the best residencies available to New Zealand composers,” Mr Thorne says.

“The sheer length of it allows a large body of work to be achieved, and it is an honour to be welcomed into the NZSM fold. The School has always had a strong focus and identifying attitude toward the New Zealand sound—something that I am passionate about. Taonga pūoro is the first music of Aotearoa, and the development and scope of it, is the development and scope of New Zealand music in itself. I look forward to having the time, space and support to concentrate on my work in a historically amazing institution.”

NZSM is hosting a Composer-in-Residence concert on 22 February, featuring outgoing Composer-in-Residence Alison Isadora, and former Composer-in-Residence John Elmsly. The Edith Fischer/Jorge Pepi-Alos Piano Duo, guest artists of Jack C. Richards, will also perform as part of the concert.

For more information contact Dugal McKinnon on 04-463 6448 or dugal.mckinnon@vuw.ac.nz

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