COMING AND RECENT EVENTS
COMPOSITIONS AND EVENTS IN 2019-2021
A heart operation, and lung issues and COVID-19 slowed down performances but not composing!
String Quartet no. 9 Premiered by NZSQ in Nelson Feb 2021
Viola and Piano Commissioned by Robert Ashworth and Sarah Watkins Postponed by COVID
Symphony No. 7 Written for the Auckland Philharmonia. Performance cancelled by COVID
Antony and Cleopatra opera with libretto by Adrian Kiernander (awaiting performance)
Moriamur for mezzo soprano and string quartet (Libretto by Jane Smiler from Vigil) (Awaiting performance)
Work in progress – Chamber Symphony Peter Walls and Opus orchestra
Four unlikely piano pieces for Neil Johnstone Written for experimental album for multiple collaborators
Recorded a second CD – The Kugels at Breaker Bay with 25 pieces composed by R. Harris for the band.
EVENTS IN 2018
Two Card Trick commissioned by Saxcess for their 25th anniversary. Performance in the Breaker Bay Hall in February 11th.
Auckland Philharmonia premiere of FACE
BBCSO premiere of FACE
These two performances of Face have been co-commissioned by the two orchestras. Voices New Zealand and the BBC singers are also involved in the performances.
EVENTS IN 2017
Sunday March 19th Passio performance at Auckland Arts Festival. Collaboration amongst six composers, concept by Jack Body
Sunday July 16th String quartet No 6 with the Jade Quartet. Jade at the Pah – world premiere
August 2017 Image of Melancholy (after Holbourne Palliser Viols -world premiere
December Premiere of Gaudete for Baroque Voices and the Palliser Viols in St Mary of the Angels – a Christmas concert
EVENTS IN 2016
Premiere – Chamber Opera Brass Poppies (Libretto Vincent O’Sullivan) Wellington International Festival March 3rd-6th Auckland Arts Festival March 10th-12th
NZSO perform Symphony No. 2 21st and 22nd of April
Premiere – There may be Light (Julian Bliss and NZ Trio) Chamber Music NZ tour beginning in Napier July 23rd
Premiere – Symphony No.6 (words by Vincent O’Sullivan) Auckland Philharmonia with soloist Fiona Campbell (conducted by Giordano Bellincampi July 21st
EVENTS IN 2015
Symphony No. 2 November 10th and 11th with Strasbourg Philharmonia
Violin Concerto Auckland Philharmonia and violinist Ilya Gringolts
Premiere – In Memory of Judith Clark (February 6th 1pm Old St Johns Nelson)
Requiem for the Fallen
Premiere – Piano Quintet
Premiere – Fugue for piano
Premiere – God, pity us poor soldiers (Gallipoli Symphony movement 7)
EVENTS IN 2014
Three premieres with words by Vincent O’Sullivan:
Requiem for the Fallen
If Blood be the price
Notes from the Front
Auckland Philharmonia and Robert Ashworth (viola) Premiered Aria for Solo Viola ans String Orchestra
EVENTS IN 2013
Premiere of Symphony 5 by Auckland Philharmonia in August.
This work is a setting of poems by Hungarian Poet Panni Palasti.
EVENTS IN 2012
Cello Concerto commissioned by Auckland Philharmonia with funding from Christopher Marshall
Cello Concerto with soloist Le-Wei Qin and the Auckland Philharmonia in the Auckland Town Hall May 3.
EVENTS IN 2011
Symphony No. 4 commissioned by Auckland Philharmonia with funding from Creative New Zealand
Symphony no. 4 (To the memory of Mahinarangi Tocker) is a single movement work with five sections linked by bell sounds. Each section begins with short quotation from one of Mahinarangi’s songs and each movement is headed by a line or two from poems the artist sent to the composer by email. The work was premiered by the Auckland Philharmonia in May.
Events in 2010
The Abiding Tides for String Quartet and Soprano was premiered at the Wellington International Festival of the Arts in March. This work was commissioned by Jack Richards. The New Zealand Symphony Orchestra premiered Harris’ Violin Concerto No. I in the Made in New Zealand concert in May 2010. The soloist was the brilliant English violinist Anthony Marwood. Also in that concert Ross’ orchestration of the song cycle The Floating Bride was given its first public performance with soprano Jenny Wollerman.
Stroma played Trombone Opera and Fanitullen for solo violin) in their May concert.
The second performance of Ross’ Symphony II for mezzo-soprano and orchestra was given by the APO in August with soloist Madeleine Pierard and conductor Marko Letonja. During the week of the performance the Third Symphony was also rehearsed and recorded. Both works have been released by Naxos later in 2010.
“The APO’s commitment to the New Zealand composer has never faltered and Glaser was visibly thrilled to announce a second performance of Ross Harris’ prize-winning Second Symphony in August – a work the orchestra will record for its first CD on the International market.” William Dart on the APO 2010 programme launch.
EVENTS IN 2009
NEWS – Ross Harris won the 2009 SOUNZ Contemporary Award with his Symphony III.
Variation 25 and the song cycle The Floating Bride were premiered at the Adam Chamber Music Festival in February. Variation 25 has had several further performances including in Canada. The Floating Bride was recently performed at a lunchtime concert in the New Zealand School of Music. It has also been performed at a NZSO/SOUNZ reading in an orchestral arrangement, and with the song cycle Wild Daisies has been recorded for broadcast by RNZ.
Trombone Opera (written for stroma and trombonist David Bremner) was premiered in March at the 2009 Asian Contemporary Music Festival in Seoul.
His choral piece Ave maris stella was recently premiered in Wellington by Baroque Voices. Ross also revived a modest career as a koauau player (Maori flute) when he performed with ‘stroma’ in a work by Jenny McLeod.
Enteng (Light) for gamelan will receive its premiere as part of the gamelan festival Gong Crazy a series of concerts in honour of Jack Body at the time of his retirement from the New Zealand School of Music.
Ross has recently completed a composition for string quartet and soprano commissioned by Jack Richards and with words by Vincent O’Sullivan (The Abiding Tides)and about to launch into writing an opera called Brass Poppies (also with libretto by Vincent O’Sullivan). The composition of this work has received funding from Creative New Zealand.
EVENTS IN 2008
In February Ross’s piece for brass and organ St Stephens Chorale and Variations was premiered in Ashburton by Southern Brass. His piano prelude A landscape with too few lovers was premiered by Stephen de Pledge as part of the Landscape concert in the International Arts Festival in Wellington. The title comes from one of the Northland Panels by Colin McCahon. Also in February the New Zealand String Quartet played a house concert at Jack Richard’s Summer residence in Gisbourne. They played their fifteenth performance of String Quartet No 3 (Blood Red Roses) with their usual fabulous energy and passion.
The premiere of Ross’ Third Symphony was premiered on August 14th in the Auckland Town Hall. The Auckland Philharmonia (who performed the first two symphonies) was conducted by Marko Letonja. Marko did a fantastic job in getting this large and challenging piece up to speed. His demand for extra rehearsal time was invaluable.
EVENTS IN 2007
In early March the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra premiered of The Beginning of a New Story commissioned by the Adam Foundation to celebrate the orchestra’s 60th anniversary and Verna Adam’s 75th birthday. His short piano trio Senryu was premiered at the 2007 Nelson Chamber Music Festival in February and repeated at the 2007 Asia Pacific Festival in Wellington. Ross’ patchwork composition Cento, written for the Auckland Philharmonia’s 25th anniversary concert 2005, was performed by the NZSO as part of their Made in New Zealand concert on May 25th.
Ross’ composition The Sleep of Reason (commissioned by 175 East) was premiered in Wellington and Auckland in early May 2007 (See reviews)
As part of the APO residency 2005-6 Ross wrote competition piece for the 2007 Michael Hill International Violin Competition held in Queenstown and Auckland. There were eighteen excellent performances of his composition Fanitullen over Queen’s Birthday weekend. The winning performance was by Yukki Wong.
Ross has already written one work for the Lilburn Residency (see below) – a piece for trombone and the new music group Stroma. This piece (Trombone Opera) was inspired by hearing a performance of Korean Pansori at the Asian Pacific Festival in Wellington in Februrary 2007.
Composer in Residence at the New Zealand School of Music 2007-8
Ross is currently the fourth Composer in Residence at the New Zealand School of Music following in the footsteps of James Gardner, Gillian Whitehead and Lyell Cresswell.
The works he will be writing during the residency include a third symphony (for performance by the Auckland Philharmonia in 2008), a fourth string quartet for the New Zealand String Quartet and a piece for the new music group Stroma.
EVENTS IN 2006
The second year of residency with the Auckland Philharmonia
On June 1st Lexus aria winner Madeleine Pierard performed with the Auckland Philharmonia in the world premiere of Ross’ Symphony No. 2 for Mezzo-soprano and Orchestra. It is a setting of a text that Vincent O’Sullivan has written especially for the piece.
When the jury awarded Ross Harris’ Symphony No 2 for mezzo-soprano and orchestra the SOUNZ Comtemporary Award in 2006 their comments were:
“This work represents a fantastic accomplishment to take the theme of war and to treat it so sensitively, and yet with such drama. It was an inspired decision to use a soprano soloist to convey the literary elements.”
This is the third time he has won the award in its nine-year history and his fourth time as a finalist. Ross previously won in 2000 for his piece To the Memory of I. S. Totska for soprano and chamber ensemble, and in 2005 with Labyrinth for tuba and orchestra. He was also a finalist in 2004 with At the edge of Silence for chamber ensemble and given a special commendation in the 2003 Award for his Chaconne for solo viola.
The Auckland Philharmonia, conducted by Bundit Ungrangsee, premiered the Symphony No. 2 in June this year 2006. The work is a symphonic setting of text from Vincent O’Sullivan’s poems which convey the ‘horror and terrible sadness of the man-made hell’ of war. Madeleine Pierard was the soloist and William Dart, writing of the performance, said she : “illuminated O’Sullivan’s often chilling critique of the senselessness of war…The orchestra gave a consummate performance, no doubt proud of the part that it was playing in the genesis of a major New Zealand score.”
In June At the Edge of Silence was performed in Gothenberg as part of an international musicology and music centres conference. It was the only Southern Hemisphere work selected from submissions from all music centres around the world.
Also, as part of his residency with the Auckland Philharmonia Ross has written a short brass quintet Fault Lines and arranged an excerpt from his opera ….a wheel of fire…. for performance in May as part of a ‘Shakespeare and music concert’. Also as part of that concert he has done an arrangement of the Haydn song She never told her love.
To complete his residency Ross has written a short piece Oscuro (dark) for three trombones and tuba and will be doing a piece for young people (possibly based on Hans Christian Anderson’s The Little Mermaid) and the competition piece for the Michael Hill Violin Competition.
Other compositional activities (2006)
Two of Ross’s pieces, the much performed Music for Jonny, and As though there were no God were performed at the New Zealand International Arts Festival 2006.
String Quartet No. III (also known as ‘Blood-red Roses)
Blood-red Roses, commissioned by the Adam New Zealand Festival of Chamber music, for performance by the New Zealand String Quartet, received its first performance in Nelson on January 23rd 2005 and a second performance in Blenheim on the 24th. It was performed in the first part of 2006 as part of the New Zealand International Arts Festival and was given another performance as part of the Wellington Chamber Music Series in Wellington in 2006. There have been many more performances in recent times – heading towards twenty.
Ross has also just completed a short piano trio for the New Zealand Piano Trio Senryu and a solo percussion piece for Arnold Marrinsen Silence Greets the dawn. Both received CNZ funding.
On top of all this Ross has contributed to a deconstruction of a mass by 15th century composer Robert Davy. He and five other composers wrote music for military band to accompany the original plainsong and choral polyphony. This unusual project (devised by Jack Body) was performed by the Tudor Consort of Wellington and the Air Force band on June 2nd
EVENTS IN 2005
Symphony no. 1
Symphony no. 1 was the major work Ross wrote for the Auckland Philharmonia as part of his residency in 2005. The work received its very successful premiere on August 25th 2005. It is shortly to be renamed Symphony No I as the composing of a second symphony is underway.
Ka wawara te hau
Another new work (Ka wawara te hau),commissioned by Bridget Douglas and Rachel Thomson with funding from Creative New Zealand, has been recorded for a CD of New Zealand flute music soon to be released by Trust Records.
Also, as part of his 2005 residency with the Auckland Philharmonia Ross Harris has collaborated with Mahinarangi Tocker on a dream sequence piece for young people. Roimatais scheduled to be part of the PhilharMania series in late September. Mahinarangi has written the text and will sing/narrate the work accompanied by the Auckland Philharmonia.
Jazz Suite for Wind Quintet
Ross has also written a wind quintet – Jazz Suite for Wind Quintet – for the Ensemble Philharmonia. This was premiered in Auckland in 2005.
Ross was invited to write an extra work for his Auckland Philharmonia residency – a piece to help celebrate the orchestra’s 25th anniversary. He was given a brief to ‘use pieces that the orchestra has made its own over the last 25 years’ – this curious piece was given its world premiere by the Auckland Philharmonia on November 25th.
Amusing recent comment from Jenny McLeod “The work is an abomination!”
Paoro (to echo)
Ross has also written a piece for solo trumpet for New Zealand trumpet player Bede Williams. This piece Paoro (to echo) received its premiere on September 14th 2005 .
The Clockmaker (1978) Student opera
Waituhi (1985) Libretto by Witi Ihimaera (Performed by VUW students and staff)
Tanz der Schwäne (1992) Libretto by Witi Ihimaera (Performed by VUW students and staff)
Black Ice (Libretto by Vincent O’Sullivan), (awaiting performance)
Brass Poppies Libretto by Vincent O’Sullivan
…of Memory… CD: Landscapes: New Zealand Orchestral Music (MMT2037)
Music for Jonny CD: Beauty Spot II NZSO (Universal 99072)
Symphony I APO Residency
Symphony II Poems by Vincent O’Sullivan. APO Residency. Winner of SOUNZ Contemporary Award 2006 (NAXOS CD)
Symphony III NZSM Residency. Premiered by APO. Winner of SOUNZ Contemporary Award 2009 (NAXOS CD)
Symphony IV To the memory of Mahinarangi Tocker – Premiered by the APO (conductor Brett Dean) in May 2011. (NAXOS CD)
Symphony V Premiered by Auckland Philharmonia (conductor Eckehard Stier) 2014 (NAXOS CD)
Symphony VI Premiered by Auckland Philharmonia (conductor Giordano Bellincampi) 2016
Bremner Aria CD Brass Aotearoa (MMT 2049)
Labyrinth – Tuba Concerto (Winner of SOUNZ Contemporary Award 2005)