SOUNZ Contemporary Award winner announced

Wax Lyrical, a work written by young New Zealand composer Chris Gendall for an octet of flute, clarinet, harp, piano, and string quartet, has won the 2008 SOUNZ Contemporary Award, the most prestigious annual award for ‘contemporary classical’ composition in New Zealand.

Chris is the youngest composer to win the prestigious award since it was instituted in 1998. The announcement was made and award presented to the composer as part of the APRA-hosted event in Auckland Town Hall which included announcement of the 2008 Maioha and 2008 APRA Silver Scroll Awards.

He was commissioned to write Wax Lyrical by American ensemble Brave New Works with funding from the Mellon Foundation and it was first performed by the ensemble in a series of concerts across New York State in April this year. “The title ‘wax lyrical’ refers to an exuberant and energetic sensibility in the work,” Chris told us.

Gendall returned from his studies in the United States for the Auckland occasion. He is currently completing a DMA at Cornell University, New York. “A DMA is essentially a PhD but specific to practical musicians.  It has allowed me to balance composerly pursuits with academic ones. The entire experience has been great: working intensely on my music; teaching and studying for greater academic rigour; and living in the northeast USA – which has been an education in itself! I think I’m yet to become an ‘ex-pat’ composer, although my international experience has certainly broadened my concept of who I am as a musician.”