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Jazz musician appointed Composer-in-Residence

4 May 2009

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A Scottish-born composer and musician who has worked with some of the world's best contemporary jazz musicians has been named as the Creative New Zealand/Jack C Richards Composer-in-Residence at the New Zealand School of Music for 2009-10.

Jazz musician appointed composer in residence

A Scottish-born composer and musician who has worked with some of the world's best contemporary jazz musicians has been named as the Creative New Zealand/Jack C Richards Composer-in-Residence at the New Zealand School of Music for 2009-10.

John Rae, a drummer, was awarded the year-long residency that will allow him to pursue creative activities.

The residency is hosted by the New Zealand School of Music, which was created in 2006 when the School of Music at Victoria University combined with the Conservatorium of Music of Massey University. This partnership combines more than 60 years' experience in the fields of performance, composition and historical research.

Michael Norris, Programme Leader for Composition at the New Zealand School of Music, says it is pleasing that such an experienced composer writing for non-classical genres has been awarded the Composer-in-Residence.

"Although John was largely unknown to the selection panel, we were blown away by the sophistication of his pieces that stretched and redefined the boundaries of conventional jazz idioms," says Mr Norris.

"It is particularly exciting given the new synergies between jazz and classical traditions that are becoming a fertile ground of exploration for both staff and students at the New Zealand School of Music."

Mr Rae, who grew up in Livingston and Edinburgh, Scotland has been actively searching for a way to compose and play music in a stimulating environment in New Zealand since he and his family moved to Napier in 2005.

"I am absolutely delighted to have received this wonderful opportunity. It's a golden chance to give all my attention to writing music and extending myself musically and will, I hope, lead to bigger and better things for me here in New Zealand and internationally."

Mr Rae, who has played, improvised and composed music with some of the world's most creative contemporary jazz musicians, says he is also looking forward to the challenge of moving to Wellington.

"Living in a smaller regional city has been very interesting, and now I'm looking forward to moving to a larger city that has such a strong music culture. The last couple of years I have had to do a lot of travelling and teaching in order to continue to write and play full time the music I love," he says.

Mr Rae intends to concentrate on writing for orchestral groups of varying sizes, and to develop his passion for cross-cultural music.

"I also want to do some writing for dance and work with choreographers using the same philosophy. I'm keen to integrate the various influences in New Zealand in order to produce something unique and original that could be done only here."

The residency is jointly funded by Creative New Zealand and private sponsor Dr Jack C Richards, with facilities provided by the New Zealand School of Music.
Mr Rae will relocate to Wellington in late June 2009, where he will be resident at the former home of well-known composer Douglas Lilburn. He will be invited to participate in workshops and classes with New Zealand School of Music staff and students.