TVNZ’s arts programme visits the 6th annual Young Composers Workshop held at the Nelson School of Music (May, 1987). It allows 20 promising young composers to hear their music performed and to compare notes with their peers — an opportunity that wasn’t available two decades earlier for budding composers like workshop organiser Ross Harris. Solo instrumental works, ensemble pieces and electronic music are featured — with inspiration found in everything from poems by James K Baxter and Sylvia Plath to slipping and falling while walking down a hill.
Singer Jackie Clarke attends the NZ Smokefree Composing Women’s Festival to find out what goes on there, and find the guidance and inspiration to write a song for the first time. Made for TV ONE’s Work of Art slot, the documentary mixes interviews with performance footage covering a wide range of musical styles, from classical to rock. Singer/songwriters featuring include Moana Maniapoto, Shona Laing, Hinewehi Mohi, Mahinarangi Tocker and Jan Hellriegel, plus sometime film composers Janet Roddick and Jan Preston.
This documentary revisits six eventful weeks in 1949. Led by cameraman Brian Brake, an all-star art team — James K Baxter as scriptwriter, composer Douglas Lilburn and painter John Drawbridge (all under 30; Drawbridge was 19) — attempt to make a 'cinematic poem' about an ascent of Mt Aspiring. Baxter's notes on the trip evolved into his poem In the Matukituki Valley. Aspiring features a lost script, Drawbridge's memories (he recalls storyboards for a snow cave light show here) and a surprise ending. View footage of the never-completed film after the excerpt.
Near the end of his life, renowned English composer Edward Elgar composed some of the greatest music of his career. This film examines the idea that Elgar's deeply emotional Cello Concerto in E Minor was provoked by memories of his first great love, Helen Weaver, who emigrated downunder after their relationship ended. After learning that Weaver's son had been killed fighting in France, Elgar was moved to write a war requiem. The award-nominated film mixed interviews, dramatisations, and a performance of the concerto by cellist Lynn Harrell and the NZ Symphony Orchestra.
30 Arthur Street was a Wellington musical institution. For more than 18 years the building was used as rehearsal space and studio, in which time 20 plus albums and nine feature film scores were partly or wholly recorded there. Directed by Plan 9 composer David Donaldson, this impressionistic documentary chronicles some of the building's musical history, plus its destruction to make way for a bypass. Among the musicians featured are Toby Laing from Fat Freddys Drop, drummer Anthony Donaldson, and ex-Mutton Bird David Long.
This second season Big Art Trip episode opens in Wairarapa with hosts Fiona McDonald and Douglas Lloyd-Jenkins marvelling at sculptor Harry Watson’s carved statuettes. In Masterton they visit the Aratoi Museum and drop in on painter Robin White, who discusses her paintings, talks about the years she spent in Kiribati, and about the World War II POW camp in Featherston. In Wellington they catch up with first series' co-host, screenwriter Nick Ward, visit toast mosaic artist Maurice Bennett, watch Katherine Smyth throw a pot, and meet composer John Psathas.
Ka Haku Au — A Poet's Lament won Best Māori Language show in 2009. The one-hour documentary drama celebrates the life and songs of Kohine Whakarua Ponika. The largely unsung Tūhoe, Ngāti Porou composer — who couldn't read a note of music, created some of the most popular Māori waiata written, including 'Aku Mahi', 'Kua Rongorongo' and 'E Rona E'. Mostly in Te Reo, the show features Kohine's whānau in dramatic roles, performances and interviews. Kohine's children produced a CD of her waiata, available on iTunes, which in turn inspired the documentary.
"I love the idea of bringing sexiness into the classical arena ..." Made for TVNZ's Artsville series, documentary Farr From Heaven follows Gareth Farr composing and rehearsing a variety of musical pieces, from stage plays to a piece for percussion and orchestra. Written and directed by Roz Mason and narrated by Farr, the documentary shows the versatility of his work as a classical composer and performer (including as transvestite Lilith Lacroix). The full range of his creative process is captured, from composing and arrangement failures, to successful world premieres.
Movie Vermilion follows composer Darcy (Jennifer Ward-Lealand) over a summer month, as her daughter prepares to marry. Darcy sees colours when she plays musical notes, but after seeing the colour vermilion she is prompted to secretly make her own plans. The exploration of motherhood, family and female friendship marks the feature debut of director Dorthe Scheffmann (Cannes-selected 1995 short film The Beach). The ensemble cast includes Theresa Healey, Goretti Chadwick (Game of Bros), and newcomer Emily Campbell. The production team were 85 per cent female.
Artists Prepare was an NFU series that featured prominent performance-based artists of the time. In this episode 'sonic artist' Chris Cree Brown, discusses composing with new media and how he orchestrates particular sounds into formal compositional structures. Some sounds are made instrumentally, while others are recorded from his environment. In 1980 few classically-trained musicians in New Zealand experimented with synthesized sound and the gloriously large and sturdy equipment Brown uses to create his music will be of sure anthropological interest to many musos.