Now in its 15th year, the NZSO Todd Corporation Young Composers Awards is an exciting opportunity for young New Zealand composers to have their work recorded by the NZSO. This year the selected young composers will have an amazing opportunity to work with our Associate Conductor & players from the NZSO.

Congratulations to the candidates who have been chosen for this year's Todd Corporation Young Composers Award.

Abby Pinkerton – Warou

"Warou is the Māori name for the self-introduced welcome swallow. These small birds flit effortlessly through the air: diving, twisting, and then soaring on the air currents. Warou captures these movements through a quirky and energetic rhythmically driven piece."

Alan Mackwell Rounds

"Rounds means to achieve a sense of what it’s like to be a child building an imaginary medieval kingdom and interacting with make-believe people and things through the use and manipulation of the titular canonic form. In a sense, rounds are used to create textural worlds through which playful and interweaving melodic ideas travel, resonating with nostalgia inspired by childhood memories of growing up in the American South and a deep fascination for knights and castles."

David Mason – Zephyr

"Zephyr explores the expansion and release of fragments, like a soft breeze whisked away by a greater current. The piece began as a miniature with a few promising ideas which I composed one morning as part of my daily composition exercises. When I decided to build upon it, I spent a long while struggling to find new material to continue the piece. It wasn't until I sought feedback that I realised there was plenty of potential within those original ideas which I could expand into a fully-fledged piece. These small fragments now serve as catalyst for the creation of a soundscape which ebbs and flows: different voices emerge from the greater blend before vanishing as quickly as they appeared. The fragments draw these voices together before scattering out individually across the sound field."

Luka Venter – ts’onot

"ts’onot is, at its core, inspired by cenotes – limestone sink wells that bore through the landscapes of Mesoamerica, housing labyrinths of subterranean tunnels where sheaths of light cut through turquoise groundwater beneath. The original Yucatec Maya name for these lends this work its title.

The vibrant shades of green, turquoise, and deep blacks of cenotes provided a luminous visual aspect that is evoked musically through a group of genetically related chords from which the fabric of the work was woven. The genetic relationships between these chords simultaneously serve to evoke the genetic networks of languages in Mesoamerica – particularly within the Mayan family.

The work, like a cenote, is a liminal space where half-seen structures at points turn suddenly coruscant. So too do its fragile melodic threads at times erupt into flashes of violence – indicative of the historical and contemporary battle to preserve linguistic, cultural, and environmental heritage throughout the colonised world."

Ihlara McIndoe – Petrichor

"Petrichor is the earthy scent produced when rain falls on dry soil. The word derives from the Greek petra, meaning 'stone', and īchōr, the fluid that flows through the veins of the gods in Greek mythology. This work is inspired by these two influences; nature, and the transcendent."

Micah Thompson – forgo the parable, seek the light

"In writing this personal work for orchestra I have been explicitly inspired by the stop motion cinematography of Wes Anderson. Particularly the technique of boiling used in Wes Anderson’s Isle of Dogs (2018) and Fantastic Mr. Fox (2009) where each minute alteration made to the puppets by hand, in each shot, will slightly alter the fur. The result, after thousands of shots have been taken and combined in stop motion is a wonderfully strange dance as the smallest bits of fur shimmer and twirl. Though this is typically avoided in stop motion cinema Anderson embraces it which results in a fantastically quirky visual movement. The material in the orchestra works like this: in a shimmering dance of transformation, always reforming and moulding itself in a kind-of musical stop motion not dissimilar to the murmurations of starlings."

Nathaniel Otley – Biosphere Degradation

"One of the most catastrophic effects of the current climate crisis is undoubtedly the loss of species and biodiversity in many of the world ecosystems. The world’s natural ecosystems are incredibly dynamic and varied and undoubtedly under stress from anthropogenic climate change. This affects species of both flora and fauna, from great trees to tiny insects and from predators to prey. The strain these systems are under can be heard in changes to the underlying soundscape over extended periods of time as they move from diverse systems into desolation. This transition, however, doesn’t happen without warning as the natural world becomes noticeably more and more strained before decaying."

Jack BewleyGuernica

"My personal connection to the history of the bombing of Guernica is that my grandmother is Basque; she is from San Sebastian, a city in the same region as Guernica. In setting out to write this piece, I originally intended to write about my Basque heritage, however, in learning more about the way it was quelled by Franco's Nationalists in the Spanish Civil War, I decided to use this piece as a manifestation of the hurt I feel towards this war, not necessarily programmatically, but via two elements of Basque/Catalan music (a sonata originally written for gaitas and a sardana, a Catalan dance) being contrasted against a bleak ending to represent Franco's intentions as a whole. While this could be perceived as an oddly novel way to represent a war atrocity, I aim to imbue the music with a sense of cynicism, not idealising the animosity felt towards this era of Spanish unrest."