39th CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop

Wednesday 26th August – Sunday 30th August 2020

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For over three decades, the annual CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop has been a key event in the New Zealand composition scene, providing opportunities for developing composers to learn about their craft and industry, to make connections with their colleagues and peers, and to support our community.

The CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop, in its 39th year, is open to all composers who are not yet professionally established, including senior secondary and university students. Participants will have a work rehearsed and performed to a professional standard. The performances will be recorded and filmed, and will be made available to the composer after the workshop. Each participant will have an experienced composer assigned to them, to act as mentor, to help in rehearsals, and to guide post-performance discussions. There will be daily lectures and discussions, instrumental demonstrations, a concert of new music, and ample opportunities for socialising.

People interested in attending the workshop as observers/non-participants are also welcome.

Attending the Workshop

Venue: Nelson Centre of Musical Arts, 48 Nile Street, Nelson

Dates: Wednesday 26th August (start time 1pm) – Sunday 30th August​ (finishing approx. 12 noon, followed by an informal lunch)

Mentors: Our line-up of mentors varies from year to year. The list of mentors for 2019 included John Psathas, David Chisholm, Eve de Castro-Robinson, Celeste Oram, Jason Long, Alissa Long, and Martin Lodge. The list of 2020 mentors currently includes: Victoria Kelly, Reuben de Lautour, David Chisholm, Miriama Young, and Antony Ritchie. More mentors will be announced closer to the time.

Cost: There is no tuition or participation fee. Participants and observers are, however, required to cover the cost of their own travel, accommodation and meals.

Accommodation: The workshop facilitates accommodation at the Nelson YHA in dorms shared with other attendees of the workshop. Attendees are free to arrange their own accommodation, but staying at the YHA enables a greater amount of socialising and discussion with your peers, and is highly encouraged.

Meals: A simple breakfast is provided for those staying at the Nelson YHA at no additional cost. Lunch and fully catered dinner options are available through the workshop, though, as with accommodation, attendees are free to make their own arrangements.

Travel: Attendees are expected to make their own travel arrangements to and from the workshop. If you are planning on flying to Nelson, it is strongly advised that you book early. If you are concerned about transport from Nelson Airport to the YHA, please let us know your arrival details and we will attempt to put you in touch with other participants on the same flight where possible.

CANZ Membership: Membership of the Composers Association of New Zealand is compulsory for all participants. Successful applicants who are not already members will be able to pay their annual CANZ membership fee together with other costs. Further information about CANZ membership can be found on this website.

Convenors: The convenors for the 2020 workshop are:

Pieta Hextall 022 421 9445
Andre Nowicki 022 328 8064

Please contact the convenors with any query you may have concerning the workshop and your application, as they are happy to assist where possible. Updated information about the workshop will be made available on this page, and on Facebook, closer to the time. You will be notified of the success of your application by email.

The 2019 Nelson Composers Workshop gratefully receives funding from:

Composition Submissions

Applicants are invited to submit up to ​two ​compositions for consideration for the workshop.

The compositions should be for between one and six performers (inclusive). The following instruments (no exceptions) are available:

  • String Quartet – Ensemble East (violin, violin/viola, viola, cello)
  • Flutes (piccolo, concert, alto & bass)
  • Clarinets (A, B♭ & Bass)
  • Bassoon
  • Saxophone​ (​ preferably soprano/alto but tenor also possible)
  • Piano
  • Taonga Puoro
  • Guitar (classical & electric)
  • Voice (soprano)
  • electroacoustic/electronic works including those for live performer(s) and fixed media or those involving live processing
  • Installations subject to available resources (please contact the conveners)

− Prepared piano is unfortunately not possible

− It is advisable to contact the convenors if you have any questions around instrumentation

− A conductor may also be available

− We strongly encourage electroacoustic/electronic compositions, subject to technical requirements. We will contact participants directly to discuss any electroacoustic/electronic submissions.

− Each work must fall within the confirmed instrumentation

This year we have released the call for scores early and pushed back the score/parts deadline to ​strongly encourage you to write new works for the available instruments and guest ensembles ​ (listed below). We will accept unfinished works in progress (as long as they are presentable). We encourage you, in
particular, to write works for and including guitar, Taonga Puoro​, wind quartet and for Ensemble East.

Submission Guidelines

Please ensure that you follow the guidelines below as much as possible when submitting your scores. As the performers have limited rehearsal time, it is essential that your parts are as clear as possible.

− Scores should preferably be computer typeset, but may be neatly handwritten.

− Use standard notational practices where possible and, where non-standard or unusual notation is used, provide instructions for the performers.

– For each piece submitted, please supply individual parts and a full score.

− Please bring at least one copy of the score and each part for the selected work with you to workshop as access to a printer or photocopier cannot be guaranteed.

− Proofread your scores and parts carefully. Be careful to ensure that you include initial and all subsequent tempo markings in every part, your name, the title and the instrument name on the front page.

− Ensure that page turns/changes are in convenient places.

− Ensure that parts are correctly transposed and that you are using the correct clef for each instrument’s range.

− Include bar numbers at the beginning of every stave, but not every bar. Use rehearsal marks if the work is long.

− Composers submitting electroacoustic works should send a recording (NOT required for acoustic compositions).


To take full advantage of our visiting guest performers, participants will be asked to collaborate with a performer ​ during​ the workshop on a microscore (less than 1min in length). This is to encourage composers to take full advantage of the wealth of information present at the workshop from both performers and


Please complete the online application form and send your complete scores, parts or audio (for electroacoustic works) to:


In order to encourage creating new pieces, we are dividing the application stages into two dates, that of registration and score submission.

Please make sure you have registered by ​May 22nd​ with your name and all details pertaining to accommodation and food, as well as a proposal for a new piece (if you already have a finished work, please submit the score).

By ​July 1st​ please submit the score and parts, or the final work in whichever form it may take. As this is a workshop do not feel you have to have a complete work, and feel free to submit excerpts and sketch ideas. The only criteria is that even if they are unfinished, the score and parts should still be tidy, presentable and professional.

If you are new to the Workshop, or wish to relive the experience, watch Chris Watson’s 2009 documentary, below, or the 1987 TVNZ Kaleidoscope documentary.