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Red Contributor

Ross Harris

Composer, Performer, Presenter

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Born: 1945 Website  External link


Arts laureate Ross Harris is one of New Zealand’s leading composers. He has written more than two hundred compositions including opera, symphonic music, chamber music, klezmer and electronic music. He has won the prestigious SOUNZ Contemporary Award more times than any other New Zealand composer.

Harris received a QSM in 1985 for his opera Waituhi with libretto by Witi Ihimaera and the CANZ Citation for Services to New Zealand Music in 1990. His major works include five string quartets, six symphonies, a violin concerto (premiered by Anthony Marwood in 2010) and a cello concerto (premiered by Li-Wei Qin in 2012).

His collaborations with poet Vincent O’Sullivan have produced two operas, two symphonies, three song cycles and Requiem for the Fallen. One of the song cycles The Abiding Tides (for soprano Jenny Wollerman and the New Zealand String Quartet was described by music critic Rod Biss as “…a work that instantly enriched our heritage of New Zealand music”. His Requiem for the Fallen (2014) has been described as “a devastating commentary on the ravages of war” and “a never-to-be-forgotten experience for all who attended.”

Recent premieres include Aria for Solo Viola and String Orchestra (2014) by Robert Ashworth and Auckland Philharmonia, Piano Quintet (2015) by the New Zealand String Quartet and Stephen de Pledge, There May Be Light (2016) by Julian Bliss and NZTrio, Symphony No. 6 (words by Vincent O’Sullivan) by Auckland Philharmonia, and Brass Poppies (2016), a chamber opera with libretto by Vincent O’Sullivan at the Wellington International Festival.

Composed (144)

"God, pity us poor soldiers"

for koauau and strings, 5m

...and the final sky

for SATB choir, 5m

...of memory...

for orchestra, 14m

A Path To Memory

for piano


for piano, 3m

Aria for Solo Viola and Strings

for solo viola and strings

Arms and the Boy

for TBarB vocal trio


for tuba and piano, 4m

As though there were no God

for orchestra, 18m

At the Edge of Silence

for chamber quintet, 11m

Audi Caelum

for three sopranos and four cellos, 7m

Ave Maris Stella

for SSAATTBB choir

Black Ice

an opera in two acts for full orchestra, vocal soloists and chorus

Brass Poppies

a chamber opera, 1h 10m

Bremner Aria

aria for trombone and brass band, 6m


for soprano, violin, cello and piano


for mezzo-soprano, flute, clarinet and piano, 2m


for full orchestra, 10m 40s

Chamber Concerto

for piano, winds and percussion, 12m


for solo piano, 9m

Concerto for Violoncello and Orchestra

for cello and orchestra


for horn and piano, 7m


for solo contrabassoon and mixed chamber ensemble


for wind and percussion, 5m

Dreams, Yellow Lions

for baritone and chamber ensemble, 20m


for violin and cello, 7m


for trumpet and tape delay system, 10m

Eight Duets for French Horns

for two french horns

Etude (Waves)

for piano solo


for orchestra, soprano, tenor, bass-baritone and chorus, 40m

Fanfares for Solo Horn

for solo horn

Farbenkt (Nostalgic)

for klezmer band

Fault Lines

for brass quintet, 3m 2s


for clarinet and string quartet


for flute and tape, 6m

Four Laments for Solo Clarinet

for solo clarinet, 7m 33s

From one JSB to Another

for solo piano

Games Affair Suite

for tape, 8m

Ghost Dances (String Quartet No.2)

for string quartet, 13m


an electroacoustic work, 5m


an electroacoustic work, 8m


for tape, 7m

Horn Call on Makara Cliff

for horn and tape, 8m


for oboe and piano, 5m

In Memory - Judith Clark

for solo piano

In Memory G.B.

for bassoon and piano, 5m


for Soprano and Tape, 8m


for piano and tape, 10m

Jazz Suite for Wind Quintet

for wind quintet

Ka wawara te hau...

for flute and piano, 11m

Klezmer Trio

for string trio, 6m


an electroacoustic work, 10m

Konen (Rounds)

for klezma band

Lament for Natural Horn

for natural horn

Lament- Butrymonys

for solo french horn, 5m

Lines and Circle

for two B flat clarinets, 3m

Micro-Piece for Xenia

for solo piano


for klezmer band

Moler (Painter)

for klezmer band

Mosaic (Water)

an electroacoustic work, 7m

Mozaic: You Must Remember This?

for two pianos, 8m

Music for Jonny

for string orchestra, 8m

Music for Solo Cello

for cello, 5m

Music for Trombone

for solo trombone

Music for Two Guitars

for two guitars, 7m

Narish (Silly)

for klezmer band

Nga Manu

for piano


for violin and piano, 7m

Orchestral excerpts from the opera 'Rasputin'

excerpts for orchestra from the opera, 16m

Ornamental Gorse

for baritone and piano

Paoro (to echo)

for solo trumpet


for voices, brass, woodwind and percussion

Piano Fragments

for solo piano, 8m

Piano Piece 1987

for piano, 5m

Piano Piece for JR

for solo piano, 3m

Piano Quintet

for two violins, viola, cello and piano

Piano Trio

for piano trio, 15m


for tape, 7m


for piano, 2m


for horn and piano, 7m

Requiem for the Fallen

for solo tenor, SATB choir, taonga puoro, bass drum, and string quartet.


for three percussionists, 8m


for piano trio

Seven Haiku

for soprano, guitar, harp and accordion

Shadow Music

for tape, 8m

Shpasik (Funny)

for klezmer band

Shtiklekh (Morsel)

for flute/piccolo, soprano saxophone and piano

Silence Greets the Dawn

for vocalising percussionist, 6m


for string orchestra, 13m


for computer generated tape, 7m

Sleep O Beloved

for four female voices and percussion, 15m


an electroacoustic work, 12m

St Stephen's Chorale and Variations

for organ, three trumpets, and three trombones

String Quartet

for string quartet, 10m

String Quartet No. 5 (Songs from Childhood)

for string quartet, 9m 30s

Sunt lacrimae rerum

for cello and piano

Symphony No. 1

for symphony orchestra

Symphony No. 2

for mezzo-soprano and orchestra, 31m

Symphony No. 3

for full orchestra including accordion, 40m

Symphony No. 3 arr. by Silencio Ensemble

Silencio Ensemble's arrangement for the 2009 Silver Scroll Awards

Symphony No. 5

for alto and orchestra

Symphony No. 6, "Last Letter"

for mezzo-soprano and orchestra


an electroacoustic work, 7m

Tanz der Schwane

an opera, 2h

Te Moanapouri

for cor anglais, harp and string orchestra, 7m

The Abiding Tides

for string quartet and solo soprano, 21m 59s

The Floating Bride, The Crimson Village

for solo soprano and orchestra, 18m

The Floating Bride, the Crimson Village

for soprano and piano, 18m

The Hills of Time

for orchestra, 12m

The Sleep of Reason....

for chamber sextet, 10m

There may be light

for clarinet, violin, cello and piano

Three Pieces for Orchestra

for full orchestra

Three Rilke Songs

for soprano, clarinet and harp, 10m

Three Sandcastle Songs

for voice and piano

To a Child

for tape, 12m

To the memory of I.S. Totzka

for soprano soloist with chamber nonet, 20m


for SSAA


for flute, viola and harp, 6m

Trombone Opera

for solo trombone with mixed chamber ensemble


for solo piano, 13m

Variation 25 (String Quartet No. 4)

for string quartet, 8m

Violin Concerto No. 1

for violin and orchestra, 23m 30s


an electroacoustic work, 12m

Voglenish (Wandering)

for klezmer band

Wananga i te rangi

for tape, 20m

Wild Daisies

for mezzo-soprano and piano, 8m


for klezmer band

Zukhenish (Searching)

for klezmer band

Resources (79)

Canzona 2005 vol 26 no 47

Commentary or analysis

Canzona February 1984 vol 5 no 17

Commentary or analysis

Canzona October 1981 Vol 3 no 9

Commentary or analysis

Ross Harris' five symphonies

Commentary or analysis

Ross Harris' works for string quartet

Commentary or analysis

The Kugels