My music studies began with piano lessons with Anne Shearer in October 2008. Throughout primary and secondary school, with her guidance, I completed all of the ABRSM Piano grades and up to Grade 5 ABRSM/Grade 6 TCL in Theory. I then completed my ATCL on Piano in December 2021 under her tutelage.
Within a year of my piano studies commencing, I began experimenting with writing my own pieces and I learnt to notate them (by hand!). I performed my first composition (which I believe was entitled Weather) in 2009 at the local Nelson Performing Arts Competitions. Composing and performing a solo piano work in the Competition became an annual occurrence for me after that first go.
Around the age of 12, I discovered I had absolute pitch and was thus able to notate melodies in my head onto paper, meaning I could expand beyond writing within my piano abilities. This led to me picking up other instruments (violin, percussion and, briefly, cello) to help me learn about the components of the orchestra and to show me how to write idiomatic parts for them. Shifting secondary schools (to Nelson College for Girls) in 2019 also significantly broadened my musical understanding and I am immensely grateful to Myles Payne with this.
My composing "breakthrough" came about with A Music Everywhere, a choral work originally written for two violins and piano during the first 2020 lockdown. Mr. Payne heard the original work and believed it had potential to be developed into an SSA choir piece for the NZCF-SOUNZ Choral Composition Competition for New Zealand secondary school students. Having never written for choir before, Mr. Payne found a text by Bessie Rayner Parkes (aptly entitled Music) for me to set the melody to and I developed the piece over the course of a few weeks before entering it in the annual competition, where it won first prize. The work was then performed and recorded by the Nelson College for Girls Stella Nova Choir at Academic Prizegiving in November 2020.
Shortly after this special performance, I found out I was the recipient of one of five nationwide NZQA Scholarship Music Awards for 2020, an award which involved me submitting three original works to a national examination board throughout Year 13. The works were A Music Everywhere, A Grand Adventure and Briony.
Over the past few years, I have gained more confidence with my composing (and, indeed, performing). I played percussion for the National Youth Brass Band of New Zealand in 2021 and they performed an arrangement of A Music Everywhere on their 2022 concert tour (while I was filming LEGO® Masters NZ Season 1 in Auckland). Attaining my ATCL on Piano at the end of 2021 was a huge personal achievement, along with my TCL Grade 6 on Violin and Percussion (all three exams were sat on the same day!).
I have also received a number of commissions, namely Upon Clee Hill and The Ducks for the Nelson College for Girls 2021 Archi Con Legni Orchestra, and A Day In The Village for Rakuto Kurano and Mark Menzies as part of their 2022 DUPLEXITY tour of the South Island. Additionally, several rearrangements of A Music Everywhere have been requested by other choirs and ensembles.
A notable recent achievement is winning the Audrey Reid Composition Prize for 2022, an award given to an Otago- or Southland-based student aged 25 and under who has written an orchestral work (at the time when I was studying music at the University of Otago). A Grand Adventure was the winning piece and it was performed by the Dunedin Youth Orchestra in the Connections Concert in the Dunedin Town Hall in September 2022.
Another notable recent achievement is having Upon Clee Hill performed at Carnegie Hall (in New York City) by the Plymouth High School Orchestra in December 2022. It has forever been a dream of mine to have my work performed at such a prestigious venue so this was a great honour for me.