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Red Contributor


Gillian Whitehead

Composer

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Born: 1941

Biography

Dame Gillian Whitehead was born in Hamilton, New Zealand in 1941. She studied at the University of Auckland from 1959-62, and Victoria University of Wellington in 1963, graduating BMus Hons in 1964. She then studied composition at the University of Sydney with Peter Sculthorpe from 1964-65, graduating MMus in 1966. That same year she attended a composition course given by Peter Maxwell Davies in Adelaide and in 1967 travelled to England to continue studying with him. She worked in London composing and copying music for two years and then with the assistance of a New Zealand Arts Council grant worked in Portugal and Italy from 1969-70.

For the next seven years she continued freelance composing, principally based in the UK. From 1978-80 she was Composer-in-Residence for Northern Arts attached to Newcastle University (UK). In 1981 she returned to Australasia to join the staff of the Composition School at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and was for four years Head of Composition there before taking early retirement in 1996. She now divides her time as a free-lance composer between Sydney and Dunedin, New Zealand. In 1999 her opera, Outrageous Fortune, won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award and she was honoured with membership of the NZ Order of Merit.

In 2000 she became one of the inaugural Artist Laureates of the NZ Arts Foundation and is now a governor of the organisation. During 2000 and 2001 she was Composer-in-Residence at the Auckland Philharmonia and her orchestral work, the improbable ordered dance  written during the Residency won the 2001 SOUNZ Contemporary Award. In 2003 she again won the Award for Alice, a major work for mezzo-soprano and orchestra which was also written for the Auckland Philharmonia. From 1998-2003 Gillian was President of the Composers’ Association of New Zealand.

Gillian Whitehead has written a wide range of music including works for solo, chamber, choral, orchestral and operatic forces, most of them direct commissions from performers and funding organisations. A number of her works have been recorded for commercial release, including a CD of her chamber works by Wai-te-ata Press and a recording of her opera, Outrageous Fortune. Her scores are available from the Australian and New Zealand Music Centres or from her agents who can be contacted through the Music Centres. In 2003 she was given a Dmus (honoris causa) by Victoria University of Wellington, and in 2007 the KBB Citation for outstanding services to New Zealand Music presented by CANZ.

In 2008 she became a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, one of New Zealand’s highest honours, and she was granted the title ‘Dame’ in 2009.

In March 2009 Gillian was invited to be an artist-in-residence for 12 months at the Henderson House – a Plischke designed house in Alexandra, Central Otago. In 2012 and 2013 Gillian had two CDs, Arapatiki and Alice, released under the Atoll label. In 2013 she held a James Wallace Arts Trust residency at the Pah Homestead.

[As an inaugural recipient of the Arts Foundation Laureate Awards in 2000, more information about Gillian Whitehead can be found on the Arts Foundation website.]


Composed (122)

"Aria" from Outrageous Fortune

for soprano, taonga puoro, flute, bassoon, cello and piano


Ahotu (O Matenga)

for chamber ensemble, 10m


Alice

an eight movement monodrama for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, 36m


Almost an Island

for unspecified low voice and piano, 7m


Almost an Island

for soprano and piano, 7m


Angels born at the speed of light

for narrator, dancer and improvising trio (flute/saxophone, percussion, piano), 1h


Antiphons

for brass nonet, 11m


Arapatiki

a "landscape prelude" for piano, 6m


Ascot Suite

for solo viola


At night the garden was full of voices

for two alto recorders and two bass recorders, 4m


Awa Herea (Braided Rivers)

a song cycle for soprano and piano, 22m


Because of the child

for solo voice


Beloved....

for solo violin


Bright Forms Return

for mezzo-soprano and string quartet, 25m


Bright Silence

for solo violin, 8m


Camelot

for mezzo-soprano, piano and bassoon


Central Landscapes

for orchestra


Central Soundscapes

for small orchestra


Cicadas

for soprano and harp


Clouds Over Mata-au

for string quartet


E Haki

for female voice


E rewa mai, e ra

for unaccompanied (high) voice


E rewa mai, e ra

for unaccompanied (low) voice


Eleanor of Aquitaine

for mezzo and chamber orchestra, 30m


F/Wh/Fugue

for mezzo-soprano, piano, bassoon and male choir


Fantasia on Three Notes

for piano, 10m


Five Bagatelles

for solo piano, 7m


Five Songs of Hildegard Von Bingen

for unaccompanied SATB choir, 13m


For Timothy

prelude, two pieces and postlude for guitar, 6m


Four Short Pieces

For solo piano, 7m


Fragments from Roxburgh

for solo viola


Girl with a Guitar: Words for Music

for mezzo-soprano, cello and piano, 8m


Haiku

for soprano voice, viola and piano


Haiku

for soprano, violin, cello and piano, 9m


Hineputehue

for string quartet and taonga puoro (Maori instruments), 25m


Hineraukatauri

duo for piccolo/flute/alto flute, and Maori flutes


Hineteiwaiwa

for taonga puoro and chamber ensemble, 20m


Hinetekakara

for voice, flute/alto flute, and taonga puoro (improvised part)


Hinetekakara

for voice, taonga puoro, flute, alto flute, and bassoon


Hinetekakara

for kaikaranga, taonga puoro, flute, bassoon and cello


Hinetekakara

for voice, taonga puoro, and bassoon, 16m


Hoata

for chamber orchestra, 19m


Hotspur

for mezzo soprano and chamber ensemble, 35m


Ipu

for narrator, taonga puoro (Maori instruments), jazz piano and cello, 42m


Iris Dreaming

a chamber opera in one act, 40m


Iris Dreaming (version with piano trio)

for soprano and piano trio, arranged from original version for ensemble of 10 players, 40m


Jesus falls for the third time

for bass clarinet


Karakia

for solo piano


Karohirohi

for harp and orchestra


La Cadenza Sia Corta

for piano, 12m


Low Tide Aramoana

for mezzo, SATB large choir and brass, 23m


Lullaby for Matthew

for piano, 4m


Lullaby of Loss

for SSSATB choir


Manutaki

for chamber sextet, 12m


Mata-au

for solo clarinet, 12m


Matariki

for solo soprano, 3m 30s


Missa Brevis

for unaccompanied SATB, 15m


Moments

for unaccompanied SATB choir, 15m


Moon, Tides and Shoreline

for string quartet, 15m


Moonstone

for viola and piano, 15m


Napier's Bones

for 24 percussionists and improvising jazz piano, 35m


Napier's Bones

for 6 virtuoso percussionists and improvising jazz piano, 35m


Naumai e te ao marama

For voice and koauau (Taonga Puoro)


Nga ha o nehera

for solo bassoon, 16m


No stars, not even clouds

for string quartet


Okuru

for violin and piano, 15m


Out of this Nettle, Danger

a monodrama on Katherine Mansfield for mezzo-soprano and chamber sextet, 35m


out the window breath bone feather

for cello, flute, and clarinet


Outrageous Fortune

a chamber opera in two acts, 1h 58m


Pao

for mezzo-soprano, piano and clarinet, 16m


Passio

for voices, brass, woodwind and percussion


Poroporoaki

for string quartet


Postcards from Harwood

For voice and piano, 6m


Puhake ki te rangi

for string quartet and taonga puoro, 16m


Pukeko

for piano, 1m 30s


Qui Natus Est

carol for SATB, 4m


Quintet

for oboe, clarinet, horn,bassoon, piano, 16m


Requiem

for mezzo soprano and organ, 20m


Resurgences

for orchestra, 14m


Ricercare

for solo viola, 16m


Riddles 2

for soprano and piano, 20m


River talk

for piano


still, echoing

for piano and string quartet


Symphony: The Islands

for baritone and orchestra


Taiohi taiao

for SSAATBB choir with koauau, 11m


Tamatea Tutahi

for piano, 12m


Taurangi

for flute and piano, 13m


Te ao marama

for voice and traditional Maori instruments (te taonga puoro)


Te mauri o te awa

for two voices unaccompanied


The Art of Pizza

a chamber opera in two acts for 12 singers and ensemble


The Bride of Fortune

A chamber opera focusing on the Italian migration to Melbourne in the 1960s, 2h


the improbable ordered dance

for full orchestra, 18m


The Journey of Matuku Moana

for solo cello, 18m


The King of the other Country

chamber opera, 1h 30m


The Pirate Moon

opera, 1h 30m


The River Flows On...

for mixed chamber sextet


The Tinker's Curse

a childrens' opera, 1h 10m


The Virgin and the Nightingale

five songs for voices, 25m


These Isles your Dream

for mezzo, viola and piano, 16m


Thin Ice

for soprano, mezzo-soprano and percussion


Three Songs of Janet Frame

for soprano and chamber ensemble, 17m


Three Windows in the Weather

for reciter, piano and bassoon


Tirea

for soloists and strings, 23m


Tom's Serenade to Ann Morris

for oboe, violin, viola and cello, 12m


Tongues, Swords, Keys

for eight singers and four percussionists, 23m


Tristan and Iseult

chamber opera, 1h 5m


Two Frame Songs

for mezzo soprano, violin, and piano


Tōrua

for violin and piano, 5m


Venetian Mornings

for flute, bassoon, and piano


Voices of Tane

Seven piano pieces for children, 8m


Windstreams

for solo percussion, 15m


Wulf

for female reciter, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion, 20m



Resources (23)

Canzona 2003 vol 24 no 45

Commentary or analysis


Canzona 2004 vol 25 no 46

Commentary or analysis


Canzona May 1982 vol 3 no 11

Commentary or analysis


Music in New Zealand Spring 1989

Commentary or analysis