Faux-zart Mellowship

Previous Fellow Chris Adams put my name on the door. Ah, bless.

On 1 February 2012 I began my time/term/tenure as Mozart Fellow at the University of Otago.

I ran the numbers a while back looking at the list of all previous Mozart Fellows – at 27 years, 1 month and 19 days, I am the second youngest to take up the position. That’s cool.

Rather awesomely, I get my own office. In contrast to Radio New Zealand House in Wellington, you can actually open the windows and have contact with fresh, outside air. In fact, there are eight such openable windows. Rest assured, I can close them when it gets cold in winter.

My swipe card doesn’t seem to work yet… slightly concerning. That could require repeated phone calls. I hope not.

So what am I going to work on? Gigs and pieces!

Song Sale Dunedin - February 2012 posterGigs:

Song Sale. Monthly gigs where a collection of songwriter-performers is on call to compose brand new songs, commissioned by audience members on their chosen themes/topics/genres etc. First gig is Monday 13 February 2012 at The Church, 50 Dundas St. Tomorrow night, we Song Salers have a meeting/test session.

Zomburlesque. We did the show in Wellington, the Dunedin Fringe saw the review, they offered assistance in doing another production, and it’s happening. The core crew and performers are coming from Wellington; I’m co-ordinating the venue, the tech and the band in Dunedin. The first season was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done; I anticipate the Dunedin season being the same.


– Reworking the 3rd movement of Three Sibilants for Eb clarinet for violin and beatbox. The violinist is Sarah Claman, the beatboxer is me. This will be performed at a Chamber Vulgarus gig in early March. You can hear the movement from 7:42 in the below SoundCloud embed:

Three Sibilants for Eb clarinet by Robbie Ellis on SoundCloud.

– A 4-5 minuter for the St Peter’s & St Mary’s Sinfonia, the senior orchestra of two Auckland Catholic high schools combined. Their conductor Antun Poljanich arranged to commission me. It’s going to be a bit of a percussion feature – I get three percussionists plus a timps player and a pianist. This’ll be in their 2012 repertoire, including at ASSBOF. (KBB Music has had naming rights on the event since 2002, but old high school habits die hard.)

– Something super secret squirrel which I will blog about in more detail later on.

– Something for Saxcess, New Zealand’s oldest saxophone quartet. Debbie Rawson has been great at getting my name out there as a composer, so I wanted to use the Fellowship to write something for her. Saxcess is doing a tour for their 20th anniversary, under Chamber Music New Zealand’s Encompass series. They’re hitting a motley collection of towns in June & July, including Cromwell (the closest to Dunedin).

– Something for the Estrella Quartet – four players, eight hands, two pianos. They’re all students at the University of Auckland under the tutelage of Stephen De Pledge, who contacted me about a piece. They won the 2011 Royal Overseas League Chamber Music Scholarship, which means they go to the UK in July/August to see a bunch of concerts, play a bunch of gigs (including at the Edinburgh Fringe). I’m thinking of calling my piece The Piano Tuner’s Performance Appraisal.

– A new piece for Auckland Youth Orchestra, an ensemble I played double bass in from 2003 to 2005. I’m currently reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks (my neighbour is a Masters student in Psychology and she regards Sacks’ writing as pop psych, but at least I can understand it). There’s a story about what sounds Robert Schumann was hallucinating near the end of his life… there could be something in that. This is for their September & October tour, with rehearsals beginning in early August.