Soash.

Are you ready for the first robbieellis.net blog update in nearly two yeeeee

….eeeeaaaars?

Not that big, but two things. Three things. Four things.

One: I updated the look of this website. The main imperative was to minimise the fact that I’m bad at updating a blog. A secondary outcome was to split my professional life into different categories: my work is now sorted by Comedy SongmakerMusic DirectorComposer and Broadcaster. (They’re all in the menu at the top.) read more

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A quick trip home!

At the first workshop of Relish in Immature Bombast, 24 May 2012, Auckland Town Hall. Photo by Oliver Rosser.

At the first workshop of Relish in Immature Bombast, 24 May 2012, Auckland Town Hall. Photo by Oliver Rosser.

I moved to Chicago on 5 January 2015. Three months on, I’ll be back in New Zealand for a couple of weeks.

To clarify for both Chicagoans and Kiwis: no, I’m not moving back. I still definitely live in Chicago. This trip is to fulfil a long-standing commitment with the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra because they’re playing my Relish in Immature Bombast again.

If you’re unfamiliar with this piece, it’s for huge-ass pipe organ, full-on funk/rock/jazz drum kit, and symphony orchestra, take a squiz at this video:
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Fact of the Day, Day, Day, Day, Day

The Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra is an organisation I’ve had plenty to do with since I was a teenager. They played my first orchestral compositions (now blessedly forgotten); they ran the New Zealand Secondary Schools Symphony Orchestra when I played double bass, their concerts introduced me to such key works as Mahler 3, Concierto de Aranjuez and the West Side Story Symphonic Dances; and that’s all before I’d left high school.

Now I’m an adult[citation needed], I’ve done damn near everything for the orchestra except play in it. Composing, arranging, MCing, pre-concert talks (like next week’s concert), video production, tutoring high school composers for APOPS, and I regularly present radio broadcasts of their concerts on Radio New Zealand Concert (e.g. in two weeks’ time). read more

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We’re on a radio show about the arts on Sunday

It’s taking me all my will power to avoid writing Arts on Sunday when referring to Radio New Zealand National’s rebranded programme Standing Room Only.

Oh, Lynn Freeman’s still presenting, Simon Morris is still producing, Justin Gregory is still doing his out-and-about reports, but they’ve got a new name for 2014.

Yesterday (Friday) Andrew Grenon and I were interviewed in a pre-record for The Laugh Track, a segment where ostensibly funny people get to select their favourite comedy. They’re going to play bits of our videos under the banner Politics The Opera. Here are those videos: read more

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Song Sale Auckland

Song Sale, which started in Wellington and which I brought to Dunedin, is starting in Auckland! Almost seems like we’re franchising this thing proper…

I’ve wanted to start Song Sale Auckland since I settled in the city of my birth in May last year. I’ve held off until now because I only entered Auckland’s stand-up comedy scene a couple of months ago. Now I feel I have the contacts to make it work…

So it’s taking place on Monday 24 February at One 2 One Cafe on Ponsonby Rd. (Facebook event here.) According to the poster below: read more

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Only because someone blogged about me.

Right now I’m ensconced in Chicago. The change in climate from Austin’s glorious spring sun to the Lake Effect has been shocking – far worse than when I made a similar transition from Guadalajara to Seattle in mid-February. Last week I bought my first ever pair of gloves, for instance.

I designed my trip so that I’d be able to catch up on projects now, instead of constantly travelling. With three weeks in Chicago, I have no pressure to see all the sights in a short time, and I’ve been able to spend lots of time in the public library and a café being a creative. read more

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General Update

A generic travel-related icon.

A generic travel-related icon.

There are a whole lot of things that I should have written about, but haven’t. It’s been a while since an update.

In the last month I’ve moved cities from Dunedin to Auckland. Over my last week down south (10-17 December), I had a whole lot of stuff to finish off: my last Song Sale, recording the tracks for Promise & Promiscuity, recording further vocals of songs with other Song Salers, and producing a live radio broadcast from Albany Street Studios. And of course there was the simple fact that I was leaving Dunedin after my one year as Mozart Fellow, a damn significant time in my life… maybe I should blog about these things when they come to fruition. read more

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All over the radios (including festival times)

Mstislav Rostropovich, Dmitri Shostakovich & Sviatoslav Richter in 1968. (Source)

I wrote and presented the most recent Composer of the Week programme for Radio New Zealand Concert. It’s not about a single composer; the topic is rather works written for Mstislav Rostropovich. You can listen to it here until Sunday 28 October (embedding won’t work sorry).

Yes, of course, there are the famous cello concertos: Shostakovich’s two, Prokofiev’s Symphony-Concerto, all of Britten’s cello works, but there’s a whole lot more besides.

In the programme I don’t even have a chance to mention any pieces by Olivier Messiaen, Iannis Xenakis, Pierre Boulez, Kaija Saariaho and James Macmillan, just to name a few. But I do get to play music by Aram Khachaturian, Leonard Bernstein, Krzysztof Penderecki, Miecysław Weinberg, and Boris Tchaikovsky (no relation). read more

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Upbeat on Upbeat

Just had an interview with Eva Radich on Radio New Zealand Concert’s Upbeat programme. I talk about:

In meinem letzten Leiden for Auckland Youth Orchestra (tomorrow in Whangarei, Sunday in Helensville, Friday 5 October in the Auckland Town Hall); Relish in Immature Bombast for Tim Noon, Jono Sawyer and the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra (Thu 23 May 2013 in the Auckland Town Hall); The Piano Tuner’s Performance Appraisal for

Estrella read more

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The results of Song Sale (digressing into broadcasting policy)

The University of Otago Music Department has some recording studios at Albany Street. Because I’m technically staff there, this great facility is available to me from time to time.

I was too lazy to walk there and photograph it myself, so I got Google to do it for me.

The building was constructed in the 1960s as the Dunedin headquarters of Radio New Zealand for stations such as 4YA, 4YC, 4ZB and 4ZM (now known by other names). There’s a distinct Glide Time public servant vibe to the place – squat postwar modernist layout, unpainted wooden doors, blue parquet floors, pre-yellowed net curtains, and behind those perforated ceiling and wall tiles there’s probably a crapload of asbestos. read more

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