John Elmsly (tape realisation). Recorded by RNZ Concert, 1 October 1989.
John Elmsly was born in Auckland on 1 July 1952. A graduate in mathematics and music from Victoria University of Wellington, he studied piano with Barry Margan, composition with David Farquhar, and began electronic music with Douglas Lilburn. From 1975 to 1978 he held a post-graduate scholarship from the Belgian Ministry of Culture. In 1977 he was awarded a First Prize in Composition by the Royal Conservatory of Brussels, where he studied with Victor Legley, and in 1978 continued study in Liège with Henri Pousseur, Philippe Boesmans and Frederic Rzewski. In 1981 he was awarded Mozart Fellowship at University of Otago in Dunedin, and in 1984 he was appointed lecturer in composition at the School of Music, University of Auckland where he was Associate-Professor and head of composition and director of the Karlheinz Company contemporary music ensemble until 2015. In 2015–2016 he was Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music’s Creative New Zealand/Jack C. Richards Composer-in-Residence.
In Memoriam: Rainbow Warrior was created in the University of Auckland electronic music studios in 1987, using sounds generated by FM synthesis. John writes, ‘A short prelude of biting metallic sounds is interrupted by the core of the work, a sea of drumming rhythms. These were created by multilayering simple repetitive rhythms at slightly different speeds and spatial positions to produce phasing effects and rhythmic ambiguity caused by the constantly changing pulse. This mesmeric world in turn dissolves to a submerged multi-layered canonic version of the Dies Irae; here too there is rhythmic ambiguity since each of the layers moves at a slightly different speed.’