Category Archives: Events


Mallet – for Liam Mallet

Liam Mallet

Liam Mallet

Liam Mallet, a kiwi flautist based in Germany, commissioned a new work for his tour of the North Island in 2012.  He performed in in Hamilton, Kerikeri, Whangarei and Auckland in August 2012. I wrote him a percussive and technical work for solo flute titled Mallet. Here is an excerpt from the score.

MSO Concertino

I’m sorry that this post is six months late. I have some pictures from rehearsal and the Town Hall concert. Also, the review from the New Zealand Herald.

“Robin Toan’s Concertino, another MSO commission, has also been cleverly written to cater to orchestral strengths. There was an attractive mix between a quartet of spruce woodwind soloists (Melody Lin, Joy Liu, Julia Cornfield and Philip Sumner) and the players around them. Splashes of percussion with sprightly lines darting every which way revealed Toan’s expertise with an orchestral canvas.” -William Dart, NZ Herald review

Dress rehearsal at the Town Hall.

On stage to take a bow after the performance at the Town Hall.

At rehearsal in Manukau.

Christchurch Symphony Concert

Christchurch Symphony The Christchurch Symphony Orchestra on May 2nd in the Christchurch Town Hall.

They performed the Schumann Piano Concerto Op. 54 in a minor with French pianist Emmanuel Despax,  Rautavaara’s Cantus Arcticus and Beethoven’s Symphony No 6 The Pastoral and Island of Wine by Robin Toan. They were conducted by Tom Wood.

Robin outside the Town Hall

NZSO/TODD Young Composers Awards

This is an article I wrote for KBB’s Random Notes, a free quarterly newsletter for school music teachers around New Zealand.

Diary from the Todd/NZSO Young Composer Awards

The Todd/NZSO Young Composer Awards should be on the calendar for any composer under 25 years old. It’s a fantastic opportunity to have an orchestral composition recorded by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. It’s also a chance to receive guidance from a high profile New Zealand composer, attend workshops by NZSO players, meet important people in the music industry and come together with other young composers from all over New Zealand.

In May a completed application form and full score with a maximum duration of 5 minutes were due. Finalists were selected and then asked to send parts by July 1st. The 2008 Awards were recorded on the 8 & 9 September in the Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington. Hamish McKeich conducted the NZSO and the composer mentor was Ross Harris.

Sunday 7th September

I flew from Auckland to Wellington, dropped my bags off at the Bay Plaza Hotel (where all out of town composers stayed) and braved the cold to attend a welcome dinner at Nicolini’s Bistro on Courtney Place. The dinner was a friendly and informal way to meet the other finalists, Ross Harris, Hamish McKeich and various representatives from the NZSO, Radio New Zealand, SOUNZ and the Todd Corporation.

Monday 8th September

This year there were 11 finalists with ages ranging from 15 to 25 years from Auckland, Hamiltion, Wellington and Christchurch. Each composition was allotted 45 minutes to rehearse and record. We sat with Ross Harris on the stage and he helped us to communicate with the conductor and gave us valuable feedback. It was wonderful to hear the NZSO perform our compositions live as any issues with orchestration, performability and structure were suddenly so obvious! After each of our works were recorded we were whisked away to record an interview with Rebecca Blundell from Radio New Zealand Concert. She was making a radio programme about the NZSO/Todd Awards that will be aired at a later date. We had a workshop with NZSO percussionists Laurence Reese and Leonard Sakofsky and were able to ask them specific questions and talk about a fundamental topic for aspiring composers – what is and isn’t possible. To finish the day Tabea Squire gave a presentation about her experience as the 2008 NZSO/NYO Composer-in-Residence.

Tuesday 9th September

The recordings continued and we heard the remaining five compositions and like yesterday we studied the scores while we listened. We were also treated to a bassoon workshop by NZSO bassoonist Robert Weeks who gave us insider’s knowledge on bassoon orchestration. The Awards were concluded with a presentation of the 2008 ‘Todd Award for Composition’ which went to Wellington based composer Alexandra Hay. I flew back to Auckland later that evening with a head brimming full of new ideas. I can’t wait to receive the CD!

14th NZSO/SOUNZ Readings

robin-and-kenneth.JPGOn the 5th and 6th of May I spent two great days in Wellington at the NZSO-SOUNZ Readings. They were held in the Wellington Town Hall and conducted by composer and conductor, Kenneth Young. Over the two days the NZSO rehearsed and recorded music from six composers and each of their works were inspiring and different. I particularly enjoyed listening to the pieces and meeting with other composers and observers from all over New Zealand.

Works performed:

Rakaia – Ryan Youens
Aurum – Simon Eastwood
Parallax – Hermione Johnson
Witch Scarers – Robin Toan
Sketches – Mike Nock
In Saecula Saeculorum – Michael Williams

nzso.JPGI had a great time to discussing music and finding out about the projects other composers were working on. The event concluded with a Open Forum which focused on some of the issues surrounding the programming of New Zealand works in Festivals. I was sad to be on the plane back to Auckland but looking forward to using my newly gained knowledge in future compositions.

Thank you to the NZSO, SOUNZ and Radio New Zealand Concert for supporting this project!

{{post id=”photogallery” text=”View more pictures from the NZSO/SOUNZ Readings.”}} Photos by Stephen Gibbs.

Barcelona Postcards in Brazil

Sphaera Ensemble ProgrammeOn April 20th Barcelona Postcards was premiered in São Paulo, Brazil by the Sphaera Ensemble. Alexey Kurkdjian Ogalla is the musical director. They performed works by Jorge Antunes, Sergio Chnee, Gilberto Mendes, David Balasanyan, Robin Toan and Alexandros Pappas. I will post again with pictures soon! Click on the image to view the concert poster.

MCSO – Festive Finale

Robin Toan and Uwe Grodd with the MCSO“The Manukau City Symphony Orchestra is in celebration mode for its Festive Finale concert this Saturday. Michael Houstoun has star billing, taking us to the Land of the Pyramids in Saint-Saens’ Egyptian Piano Concerto while Sibelius’ Finlandia features the young singers of Valley Voices with the orchestra. Also showcased is the talented young composer Robin Toan whose Fanfare for Manukau promises thrills aplenty as Toan, in her own words, “pushes it out”, having players shout, clap and stomp to catch the vibrancy that is South Auckland. Manukau City Symphony Orchestra: Genesis Energy Theatre (TelstraClear Pacific Events Centre), Saturday 7.30pm.”

-William Dart, NZ Herald, 28 November

Robin Toan and Uwe GroddThe Manukau City Symphony Orchestra’s Festive Finale concert was a great way to close out the year. The orchestra, conducted by Uwe Grodd played with energy and enthusiasm to a packed audience on Saturday night. The concert opened with Fanfare for Manukau and I was lucky enough to have hear it plaued not just once but twice! I particularly enjoyed the evening as the atmosphere was really relaxed. We all joined in with the music making at the end when we sung Christmas carols.

I have more pictures from the concert in my photogallery.

SOUNZ website launch

SOUNZ is a music information centre which provides, fosters and promotes music by New Zealand composers through services and projects which encourage its creation, performance, publication, recording and broadcast.”

Yesterday I was fortunate enough to attend the launch of the new SOUNZ website held at the APRA offices in Mt Eden, Auckland. It was a really happy event to celebreate some 20 months work by the people at SOUNZ. The new website makes it really easy to search for and buy music by new zealanders. We were treated to a 1 minute piece by James Gardner performed by Andrew Uren and Katherine Hebley -just to prove that you could search for a 1 minute piece for cello and bass clarinet and find something. There was a video about the new features of the website and some speaches by the Minister for Arts, Judith Tizard, the president of CANZ, Glenda Keam and Silla Askew from SOUNZ.

When you have time, take a look at the wonderful website for contemporary new zealand music SOUNZ.

John & Julia: 15th concert

John Chen, Julia McCarthy and myself after a performance of TutukakaAlmost a month ago I went to see Julia and John play in Te Awamutu. Their programme was fantastic. I think my favourite must have been Julia playing the Ysaÿe Solo Violin Sonata No 3, her fingers and bow moved like lightening! Yesterday, I heard them play again, this time in Warkworth and the concert was even better. Over the past month they’ve really jelled together and it sounds just awesome. There were a lot of people up from Auckland to support them and it was great catching up with everyone. Chamber Music New Zealand have posted some reviews on their website here.

In other news, I’ve put the finishing touches on my Fanfare for Manukau for the Manukau City Symphony Orchestra and sent it off earlier this week.

Asia Pacific Festival in Wellington, New Zealand

Greetings from the Asia Pacific Festival in Wellington, New Zealand.
Yesterday was the ACL Young Composers Competition. There were from 8 different countries represented – NZ, Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Philippines, Korea, Thailand and Israel. The compositions were played by STROMA and friends. STROMA is a seriously talented group of kiwi musicians made up primarily from members of the NZSO.
I was really happy with the way my piece “Le Marteau du Destin” was played by STROMA and Claire Nash. They had just two rehearsals but made it sound brilliant. Clarie is also a fantastic singer. She brought life and a really engaging theatrical quality to my work. I had great feedback from the audience and lots of people came up to me to tell me how much they enjoyed it.
The prize of the evening went to Hong Kong and Australia. They also gave out a different prize for the best young composer from the host nation throughout the entire festival. Sam Holloway won with ‘Fault’ which was played by the NZSO the night before. I was given an honourable mention which is very nice as there were a lot of great pieces by young kiwis in the Festival.
All the Young Composers have been put up at Weir House – part of the Victoria University student accommodation (nicknamed Warehouse). It’s actually pretty cool here as we have the run of the place while the students are on holiday. I particularly enjoy being able to simultaneously use 4 TV rooms, table tennis and 10 computers. But nothing can beat the lovely smell of school dinners wafting up the stairwell to your room at 5pm.
I am now brimming with strange and beautiful ideas. Tomorrow I will return to Auckland where I will get back to writing!

NZSO/TODD Young Composers Awards

NZSO/TODD Young Composers Awards 2006 PrizegivingNot long ago I attended the NZSO/TODD Young Composers Awards. Ten composers aged between 13 and 23 years old gathered for two days in Wellington to hear their five minute compositions rehearsed and recorded by the NZSO. Hamish McKeich, the conductor did a fantastic job getting through all our pieces on time. We had mentoring by Lyell Cresswell who was really supportive and helpful. There were also some ‘extras’ – a tuba demonstration, tour of the NZSO music library and a talk by Claire Cowan about the NYO Composer-in-Residence scheme. My piece, La Sagrada Familia was on last. This was a little scary as it was just before the awards presentation and a number of important people were there. Anyway, Karlo Margetic and I were announced joint winners. We were then whisked off up to Radio New Zealand to do an interview for Concert FM. It will appear on Upbeat! soon – I’ll post with a date later.

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!