4 Nov 2016


From Resound, 10:00 pm on 4 November 2016
Dorothy Buchanan

Dorothy Buchanan Photo: Supplied by SOUNZ


Dorothy Buchanan is a pioneering figure in New Zealand composition. She was New Zealand’s first composer-in-schools, and in 1979 became both president of the Composers’ Association of New Zealand and the first woman to join the Musicians’ Union. In the same year she founded the Christchurch Music Workshops, and co-founded the music publishing co-operative Nota Bene. She has received a CANZ Outstanding Achievement Award, and in 2001 she was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for a lifetime’s involvement in music.




Of this work, Dorothy Buchanan says:

Commissioned by the Gagliano Trio (John Chisholm, violin, Allan Chisholm, cello, and Bruce Greenfield, piano), the work is somewhat of a departure  from the simpler style of my Mass in English (1966). Trio Sound is my interpretation of Shaduf by poet Ian Wedde. One might say it is post-impressionistic in its purpose, and certainly for me quite a departure from the voice of earlier works.

The piece starts with eerie, high false harmonics from violin and cello. The time signature is made up of 4+3 followed by 3+4. This theme is shown in inversion a little later. Anecdotally, John Chisholm and I were on the front desk of the second violins together, in the Christchurch Civic Orchestra (now Christchurch Symphony Orchestra). John was an intense and gifted young violinist who later progressed to the NZSO, as did his twin brother Allan. Sadly, John died of cancer at a young age.

Regarding the poem Shaduf, I don’t recall how I found it, but perhaps it was in a volume of Ian Wedde’s poems.

When I transferred from Christchurch to live in Wellington, my partner and I were lucky enough to live in Witi Ihimaera’s home as he had been appointed cultural ambassador based in New York. As it happened, Ian Wedde was our postie and we enjoyed sharing our passions as composer and poet. Trio Sound has always held an affectionate place in my life as a composer.

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