David Hamilton is one of New Zealand's most internationally well known and widely performed composers. This year he was commissioned by Avondale College's Director of Music, Dr Julie Garner, to write a piece for the College's Symphony Orchestra, and the resulting composition, Te Kurī-a-Pāoa, will receive its world premiere here at Avondale College!
Hamilton says the piece is broadly about the arrival of Pākehā to New Zealand: "The initial on-stage music suggests a quiet landscape which is suddenly interrupted by the smaller group playing a kind of pseudo-British folk song," says Hamilton. "The piece is not intended as a literal presentation of all the events, but mainly takes that idea of two cultures clashing on first contact as the starting point. The Māori text speaks of the land: "Look at the children of Tāne, Standing as shelters to the wind, Treasures to be admired, A remnant of ages past."
The dramatic piece features the use of traditional Māori instruments - taonga pūoro - as well as te reo, (performed by the solo voice of Avondale College's Head Girl, Olivia Mallon). These were two significant elements requested by Dr Garner; she had previously commissioned two pieces by Hamilton that had incorporated traditional Māori instruments, and these three compositions were to be performed for the first time ever as a triptych at the College's 'Sound in Colour' classical concert in August.