Robin ToanRobin Toan is a New Zealand based composer. 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 30, she has been a resident composer on two occasions, received a number of commissions and has been the recipient two high profile scholarships.

She graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Music degree in composition and performance clarinet in 2004. In 2005 she achieved first class honours in composition at the University of Auckland studying with John Elmsly and Eve de Castro-Robinson. She has a Master of Music degree with distinction under the supervision of John Psathas at the New Zealand School of Music/Victoria University of Wellington.

In 2007 Robin traveled to Europe to further her studies in composition with the support of the Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship and the inaugural New Zealand Australasian Performing Rights Association Professional Development Award. She had tuition Nicola LeFanu, Roger Marsh, Dieter Mack and Dorothy Ker. With the assistance of the NZ/France Friendship Fund Robin traveled to Paris to attend rehearsals and the premiere concert of a new work, Dans la Nuit, for string orchestra in November and December 2006.



  • Highly commended in the TODD/NZSO Corporation Young Composers Award for 2008 with Aquarium & Puppets.
  • Represented New Zealand in the Asia Pacific Festival 2007 Young Composers Competition. Her composition, Le Marteau du Destin received an honourable mention in the Prof Hsu Tsang Houei Prize.
  • Joint recipient of the TODD/NZSO Corporation Young Composers Award in 2006 for her orchestral composition La Sagrada Família.
  • Winner of the 6th ADAM International Cello Competition Young Composers Competition with Games in 2006.
  • Honorific Mention Award for her sextet, Barcelona Postcards, in the 2005 Frederic Mompou International Award for the Young Composer Competition of the Joventuts Musicals de Barcelona.
  • Winner of the 2004 Philip Neill Memorial Prize for Maze written for two percussionists and piano.
    Winner of the Auckland Philharmonia Young Composer’s Competition with Over the Rubicon in 2000.
  • Runner-up in the KBB/175 East Composition Competition with Rionic in 2000.


  • Commissioned by Liam Mallet to write a solo flute composition for his tour of the North Island, New Zealand in 2012.
  • Commissioned by the Manukau Symphony Orchestra to write a new work for their 2011 concert series.
  • Commissioned by Ensemble Selisih with funding from Creative New Zealand to write a quartet for two saxohones, flute and piano for their tour in 2009 (Germany, Indonesia and New Zealand).
  • Commissioned by Father Arthur E Bridge for Ars Musica Australis to write a orchestral work for the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra.
  • Recipient of the SOUNZ Community Commission 2006 to write Fanfare for Manukau for the Manukau City Symphony Orchestra (to be premiered in December 2007).
  • Commissioned by Chamber Music New Zealand to write Tutukaka for John Chen and Julia McCarthy’s New Zealand tour in September and October 2007.
  • Commissioned to write the music score for the short film Loose Ends which premiered at the Auckland International Film Festival in July 2006.
  • Commissioned by the Opus Chamber Orchestra to compose new work, Opus 101, for their May concert series in 2005.

Awards and Scholarships

  • Awarded the CANZ (Composers Association of New Zealand) Trust Fund Award for outstanding potential and achievement in New Zealand composition in 2009.
  • Recipient of the $20,000 Edwin Carr Foundation Scholarship in 2006 for studies in Europe.
  • Awarded a Victoria University of Wellington Graduate Award in 2006 to study a MMus.
  • Awarded the inaugural Australasian Performing Rights Association New Zealand Professional Development Award in 2005.


  • Traveled to Paris in 2006 with the support of the NZ/France Friendship Fund to work with Orchestre 2021 to rehearse and premiere Dans la Nuit for string orchestra.
  • Named inaugural composer-in-residence of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra National Youth Orchestra in 2005 with her composition Tü-mata-uenga “God of War, Spirit of Man”.

University Achievements

  • Winner of the 2004 University of Auckland Douglas Lilburn Composition Prize in both the acoustic (for Violaceous for solo violin) and electronic (for Intergalactic Busking Experience) categories.
  • Scenes from Provence won the 2004 University of Auckland Douglas Mews Prize for Best Unaccompanied Choral Composition.
  • Second place in Douglas Lilburn Composition Prize acoustic composition category with Shades of Flamenco in 2003.
  • Winner of the University of Auckland Douglas Mews Prize for Best Unaccompanied Choral Composition with Takapuna Beach in 2003.
    Winner of the Llewellyn Jones Prize for Music for Piano in 2002 with Life, as I see it
  • Second place in the 2002 University of Auckland Douglas Lilburn Composition Prize with her work for string quartet, Lament.
  • Second place in the 2001 University of Auckland -Douglas Lilburn Composition Prize with her work for cello and violin, Catastrophe!


  • Witch Scarers was selected for the NZSO/SOUNZ Readings 2008.
  • Composition Turista di Venezia selected for the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra Graduate Workshop in 2006.
  • Attended the CANZ Nelson Composer’s Workshop in 2002 and 2004.


  • Was invited to write a string quartet for the NZSM Graduate Quartet in 2006.
  • Has written works for the Howick School of Music Youth Orchestra. Comic in 2004 and Rainbows ‘n’ Roses in 2005.
  • New Zealand based contemporary ensemble 175 East performed Sunshine Jam following their call for new microscores in 2004.