University of Canterbury Senior Lecturer in Music Performance, percussionist Dr Justin DeHart, will commission five new works for solo percussion from five prominent composers, thanks to a $74,000 Creative New Zealand Arts grant.
DeHart will work with sound and intermedia artist Phil Dadson; composer, percussionist and cabaret entertainer Gareth Farr; composer, teacher and improviser James Gardner; US-based composer and musician Celeste Oram; and composer, performer, sound artist, editor and curator Antonia Barnett-McIntosh throughout 2022.
“I was drawn to these particular composers for their innovative approach to sound and I’m excited about how they might produce works that challenge me to find new capabilities as a percussionist,” DeHart says.
The five new works, totalling almost one hour of new music, will contribute significantly to the musical landscape in Aotearoa New Zealand and add to the percussion cannon globally, DeHart says.
“Works for solo percussion are still a relatively new art form in the field of classical music and I have seen how excited and curious audiences can be. Percussion has the ability to attract a broad audience base through its association with rock/pop music and various traditional music from around the world.”
The new music will inspire the next generation of composers, as well as younger audiences, and will inform DeHart’s teaching with students at the University of Canterbury’s innovative School of Music.
“The five composers will gain more attention through the publication of the upcoming album, SOUNZ videos, composers’ scores, and live performances, which should help to generate more excitement for younger New Zealand composers to write new works for percussion.
“It is my hope that the pieces will be picked up and performed by other percussionists once the scores, recordings and videos have been published. I have already seen this beginning to happen with recent works published from my first Rattle Record release, Landfall.”
2022 will be a busy year, as DeHart liaises with the composers to experiment, trial music ideas, and give feedback on concepts, notation, and instrumentation.
He plans to premiere the new works in Christchurch in early 2023 at the University of Canterbury’s New Music Central Series. He foresees plenty more opportunities to perform the works live.
“Past collaborations with composers have resulted in repeat performances over a number of years. My intention is that this collection of new works will enter my, and other percussionists’, repertoire in a similar way.”
Creative NZ recently announced 82 grants totalling $3,643,590 to support projects by New Zealand artists and practitioners across General, Māori and Pacific funding pools.