New Zealand’s most influential composer celebrated on 10th anniversary of his death
8 Jun 2011
The music of New Zealand’s most influential composer, Douglas Lilburn—who died 10 years ago this week—will be celebrated at Victoria University tonight.
The New Zealand School of Music is celebrating Lilburn’s music with a concert at Victoria’s Hunter Council Chamber, in an event that will also see the launch of a new book and website relating to Lilburn’s work and life.
The event is being organised by the New Zealand School of Music (NZSM), the Lilburn Residence Trust, Lilburn Trust and Victoria University’s Stout Research Centre for New Zealand Studies.
The event will begin with a short concert by NZSM staff and students, featuring a programme of music by Lilburn that intermingles little-known and little-heard piano pieces with key works from his electroacoustic period.
Concert curator and senior lecturer at the NZSM Michael Norris says the concert will highlight the diversity of Lilburn’s electronic music from the 1960s and 1970s, interspersed with some of his ‘sonic gems’ for piano.
“Colouristic and spacious, these compositions show the degree to which questions of space, form and time informed his instrumental writing of this period.”
Lilburn taught at Victoria University from 1947 until his retirement in 1980. He founded Victoria’s electronic music studio, and was its director until his retirement.
The event will also see the launch of a book containing two seminal talks by Lilburn: A Search for Tradition & A Search for a Language, published by the Lilburn Trust in association with Victoria University Press.
“The book demonstrates that, even though we are in a new century, the issues of heritage, education and environment which Lilburn confronted decades ago, still challenge our thinking about New Zealand culture,” says NZSM composer Jack Body, who wrote the book’s afterword.
The Lilburn Trust will use the opportunity to launch a new website (www.douglaslilburn.org), providing information not only on the services of the trust, but also providing biographical and historical information on Lilburn’s life and work.
NZSM Friday at 5 concert—Remembering Lilburn
The NZSM will also dedicate their next Friday at 5 concert to the memory of Lilburn. ‘Remembering Lilburn’ will feature three of the composer’s works for strings: his String Quartet, String Trio and Violin Sonata. The performers include violinist Martin Riseley, Head of Strings at NZSM, and Professor Donald Maurice on viola. The free concert will be presented at 5pm this Friday 10 June in the Ilott Theatre, Wellington Town Hall.
“Lilburn occupies a central position in the history of New Zealand music,” says Professor Maurice, NZSM Associate Director.
“He has been recognised as the father of 20th century composition in New Zealand, both through his instrumental and vocal music, and through his pioneering work in electronic music. In both genres he worked tirelessly to create a national identity and encouraged similar aims in younger composers.
“His endowment, administered by the Lilburn Trust, has supported many musicians and organisations in their endeavours to further promote and explore a unique New Zealand ‘voice’ in musical performance and creation.”