Kit Powell was born in Wellington in 1937. While studying in Europe in 1966/67 he met Brigitte, his Swiss wife and since 1984 the Powell family have lived in Switzerland. In Switzerland he taught Music Theory at the Hochschule fur Musik und Theater in Zurich and English privately until his retirement in 2003.
When one views the work of American artist Mark Rothko (1903-70) one is struck first by the emotional impact of these monumental paintings and then by their similarity - all pictures seem to be variations of one another - variations without a theme, for there are no recognisable objects or motives, just colours, areas and proportions. Kit Powell's Rothko Variations are conceived in this sense, not in the traditional musical variation form, but as a series of pieces without themes containing only orchestral colours and shapes. In order to put these four “Variations” into a wider perspective they are separated with three Interludes that contrast strongly with the main material. Where the “Variations” are slow and dense, the Interludes are faster and lighter.
New Zealand Symphony Orchestra / Kenneth Young. Recorded by Radio New Zealand Concert, 1 September 2011.