Author Archives: Robin Toan

About Robin Toan

Robin Toan is one of New Zealand’s leading young composers. She has had multiple works performed in Oceania, Asia, Europe and America by leading ensembles and soloists. She has received awards in composition competitions both in New Zealand and internationally. At 24, she has already been a resident composer on two occasions, received a number of commissions and has been the recipient two high profile scholarships.

Asia Pacific Festival 2007 Young Composers Competition

–Breaking News—Breaking News–

I’ve just found out that my entry, Le Marteau du Destin has been selected as the New Zealand entry in the Asia Pacific Festival 2007 Young Composers Competition. The Festival runs from the 8th-16th of February in Wellington. Each country participating in the festival may enter one piece in this category. I will get flown down to Wellington for the duration of the festival by CANZ and ACL will provide me with accommodation, breakfast and lunch. An early version of this composition was played at the Nelson Composers Workshop in 2004. Some of you may have heard it then. For those of you who don’t know this piece. It’s for seven instruments; voice, clarinet/bass clarinet, trumpet, violin, cello, percussion and piano. I have set five Japanese Haiku to music. The first movement is based on a Haiku by Issa and goes like this… Before this autumn wind Even the shadows of mountains Shudder and tremble I’m currently inputting the score onto Sibelius so that I can make easy to read parts. Originally the score was hand written and graphically notated and it made things a bit chancy in performance!! For more information about the Festival and Young Composers Competition follow the link to the CANZ website at the bottom the page.

I have a title!

I have a title!! <and believe me, that’s news> With some pieces I haven’t got a clear title. For example, Turista di Venezia was easy. I was writing about Venezia and each movement told a little story about my travels there; taking a ride on the Canal Grande, visiting the Ducal Palace and walking through the beautiful rooms or sitting on some steps in the Piazza San Marco eating a carrot… This piece was different. I was creating strange textures and colours with irregular rhythms, exploring small intervals, glissandi, harmonics and sul ponticello. It has an atmosphere of apprehension and suspense. To tell the truth there are some quite tormented bits aswell! Anyway, this is where my sister, Vicki came to the rescue. “dans la nuit” perfect. In the night. It completely sums up my work. There is a lot of sneaking around, dark melodies and sudden crashes. I am really looking forward to hearing this creation! We will be recording it at the concert in Paris so I’ll be able to put up some extracts when I get back. I’m expecting the CD from the NZSO/TODD Young Composers Awards to arrive soon so I’ll have something else for the recordings page very soon.

Updates, Feedback and Photos

Thank you to everyone who has visited my website. I’ve had great feedback. It’s so exciting to finally have my website ‘online’. I worked really hard on the site with Vanessa (she’s the technical brains). I’ve just added more pictures to my gallery from the NZSO/TODD Young Composers Awards. The pictures were taken by Stephen Gibbs from SOUNZ. Thanks Stephen :) I’m progressing well with my Paris piece. I’ve spent the last few days finalizing my orchestration before I do my last big edit. I’m trying to think of a title and it’s really stressing me out. Its all about having a good title…;P We’re leaving next month!!! Yay!

work, work, work

Hi Everyone, I’m working on my string orchestra piece for Paris at the moment. I’m trying out different techniques and creating really interesting colours. Getting them all to mesh nicely is quite a challenge. I’ve got about three more weeks before I have to post the score and parts off to the conductor – so its work, work, work!

A night at the APRA Silver Scroll Awards

On the 20th of September I attended the APRA Silver Scroll Awards! I had a really great time. I was on a table near the front with Eve de Castro-Robinson (nominee for the contemporary award), John Rimmer, Gareth Farr and Phil Dadson just to name a few. All the bands were really good but the Nathan Haines quartet was my favourite. They did a jazz version of Ross Harris’s piece. Congrats to Ross for winning!

Auckland Philharmonia Graduate Composers Workshop

Hello, hello. On Wednesday I went to the Auckland Philharmonia Graduate Composers Workshop. It was so cool to hear my composition, Turista di Venezia. It’s really challenging rhythmically and quite a long work – about 15 minutes. The orchestra managed to get through it in about 70 minutes recording section by section. The conductor Mark Taddei was totally organized and did a fantastic job. I can’t wait to hear the CD!

SOUNZ Community Commission – 2006 recipient

I’ve just been informed that I am the 2006 recipient of the SOUNZ Community Commission! I will be writing a fanfare for the Manukau City Symphony Orchestra to play in 2007. It will be a really exciting piece with strong cultural themes – I’ll be asking the orchestra to chant, use their instruments in extreme ways and all sorts of other crazy things. But, but, but… I really want it to be enjoyable for the audience and players too. Challenging…
Click here to read an article about it on the SOUNZ website.

New Zealand/France-Friendship Fund to PARIS

It’s official! Vanessa Tam, Charmian Keay and I are off to Paris on November the 20th with the help of the New Zealand/France-Friendship Fund. We are putting on a concert on December the 7th at the Cité Universitaire with a new string orchestra, Orchestre 2021 which will be conducted by Elizabeth Askren. She is Attachée Culturelle at the United States Foundation in Paris. I will be writing a fifteen minute work for String Orchestra over the next couple of months for the concert. Vanessa and Charmian will be playing their violins in the concert. They will also be doing some informal chamber music with Nigel Keay’s String Quartet during our 18 days there. I’m so excited!!