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Contributor


Christopher Prosser

Composer, Performer

Born: 1956

Biography

Chris Prosser is a violinist-composer who writes music primarily to perform and record himself, as a solo artist and in collaboration. Much of the work exists in shorthand notation. Some scores have been written out for others to play.

Born in England 1956, Chris came to New Zealand at age 9. He started learning the violin and became head chorister at Southwell School, Hamilton. He moved to Christchurch, before composing Sonatina for Violin, Flute, Cello which won the 1972 Bank of New South Wales Chamber Music Competition. His qualifications in ATCL Violin Teaching, BA History (Canterbury University, NZ), and MA Music (Middlesex, London) followed.

Based in London during the 1990s, Chris won a British Council award, recorded for VPRO Radio Netherlands, performed free improvisation with London Musicians Collective and at traditional music festivals around Britain with roots/rock band, The Eclectics. He earned a living busking the Underground, took violin teaching courses by Kato Havas and Sheila Nelson, played at the Glencolumcille Fiddle Festival in Ireland, and taught Skills for Life at Hackney Community College.

In 2000 Chris founded Kauri Music Ltd and released four CDs reviewed in the international music press (The Wire, Cadence NY, Folk Roots) and broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Radio Hesse and Radio Populare Turino. He is currently living in Wellington.

In 2008 Chris was back on stage in Wellington playing free improvisation. He performed with ‘Wellington Most Famous Orchestra’ and ‘The Doubles’ at diverse venues such as Te Marae Te Papa, St.Andrews-on-the-Terrace, Happy, and Fred’s.

2011-2012 saw Chris performing with ‘New Klezeland’ klezmer band with J.Besser and R.Harris at the New Zealand International Arts Festival, ‘Chimera’ physical theatre show with S.Perfect at The Body Festival Christchurch, ‘Babylon’ voice theatre at NZ Fringe Festival, and ‘Found’ exhibition as resident composer/performer at Adam Art Gallery Wellington. He recorded the ‘Hunting Ground’ CD for solo violin and improvisations at Fred’s Wellington in 2012. The ‘Silver Darlings’ arrangements of traditional Scottish songs with S.Mechan culminated in a CD and South Island tour. He also performed regularly with SAMPLE collective Wellington. Chris performed solo improvised shows in the 2016 and 2017 Wellington Fringe Festivals, both featuring his own compositions.

Chris Prosser describes two different approaches to composing: “1. Violin in hand, music on and for that instrument, often with compound and additive rhythms similar to the Indian idea of ‘tala’. The scordatura pieces fall into this category. With standard tuning this violin based approach can lead to Balkan sounding modality and rhythms. 2. Away from the violin I also hear melodies and dances. These are scored for instruments to play solo or with chord accompaniment and resemble Celtic modal tunes. The music for flute with rhythm violin and the children’s dances for violin and guitar are examples of this second approach.”

Works such as Pacific (1992) are written for scordatura violin, and he has also focused on writing for violin in standard tuning which includes Additive Rhythm Cycles for Violin (2006). The more recent collection Snap Into It (2010) has skeleton structures for improvisation as well as fully composed pieces.

Chris' collaborations are various and include jazz and “crossover” bands around New Zealand which have incorporated elements of different musical genres (“1769” Christchurch; “Noise and Smoke”, “The Zestniks”, “Bowing Jets” in Wellington; “In Transit” in Dunedin, Harold Anderson in Auckland). In 2006 Chris studied with Leroy Jenkins, a jazz and blues violinist in New York, to arrange his solo compositions; a set which remains to be recorded.

"It is the Livingness in Art that makes it art." - Fela Sowande.


Composed (76)

Ballad

for melody instrument and chords


Beam

for violin and tanpura


Birds Reply to Bartok: 44 Violin Duos

improvisatory violin duos


Book of Tunes

for violin


Bouncer

for violin and guitar, 55s


Brightest Day

for violin, 1m 5s


Cake of Marches

for melody instrument and chords


City Raga

for violin and piano


Czeske Krumlov

for violin and guitar, 1m 18s


Dance of the Souvalikis

for melody instrument and chords


Dance Suite

for flute and violin, 18m 26s


Dark Wind

for violin and piano, 45m


Ebb

for violin and tanpura


Farewell to the Audience

for melody instrument and chords


Fif

for melody instrument and chords


Fleck

for violin and tanpura


Flight

for scordatura violin with Indian tanpura, 54m


Foam

for violin and tanpura


Four Meditations

for scordatura violin and Indian tanpura, 43m 33s


Fusion on the Side

for melody instrument and chords


Gk Nine

for melody instrument and chords


Higher Percentage

for violin and piano, 5m


Hungarian Sky

for violin and piano


Hunting Ground

for solo violin, 52m


In a Perfect World

for violin and guitar, 1m 6s


In Late Blues

for melody instrument and chords


Invention I

for prepared piano and violin, 4m


Jaywalking

for violin and piano, 4m


Jig Madly Control

for melody instrument and chords


Jig Swigger

for melody instrument and chords


Jig: Collected Jigs 2000-2012

melody with chords


Jiggery-pokery Jig

for melody instrument and chords


Jolly Nice One

for melody instrument and chords


Jolly Nice Two

for melody instrument and chords


Jonathan's Visit

for violin and piano, 5m


K Mix

for melody instrument and chords


Klezmer Waltz

for melody instrument and chords


Knees Down Yidl

for melody instrument and chords


Knock

for violin and tanpura


Minor

for violin and tanpura


Neck and Lung (Week 2)

for flute and violin, 45m 26s


No Name at Present

for melody instrument and chords


No Tango Today

for violin and piano, 3m


Noche Flamenco

for violin and piano


Offset

for violin and tanpura


Old Peace

for melody instrument and chords


One for the Klezmer

for violin and piano, 5m


Pacific

for scordatura violin, 2h 5m


PATTERN DANCES

for solo violin


Plinky Scone of Klezmer

for melody instrument and chords


Q & A

for melody instrument and chords


Quakey

for violin and tanpura


Question

for violin and tanpura


Razshenitsa

for melody instrument and chords


Recent Acceleration

for violin and piano, 5m


Resleeve Blues

for melody instrument and chords


Resolve

for violin and tanpura


Romantic Rite

for violin and piano, 9m


Six Meditations

for solo violin


Soft Light

for violin and guitar, 1m 20s


Sonatina for Violin, Flute, Cello

for violin, flute and cello


Spring Rain Before Blossom

for violin and piano, 2m


Standard

for violin and tanpura


Still Here

for melody instrument and chords


Strad

for violin and tanpura


Strange

for violin and tanpura


Three Impressions

for violin and piano, 15m


Thrum

for violin and tanpura


Tunes

for solo violin, 1h 5m


Waitemata Harbour

for violin and piano, 6m


Wax

for violin and tanpura


Wee Happy and the Lounge Bears

for violin and guitar, 23m


Whanau

for electric band, Māori choir and string quartet, 55m


Who Learned Ye to Dance and Towdl

for melody instrument and chords


Wild Town Dance

for melody instrument and chords