NZTrio Composing Competition 2017: Turn a Phrase

Updated: Jan 27

For this competition, we were tasked with 'finding a New Zealand author or poet whose carefully crafted words inspire a musical work of no more than 10 minutes in length' for the NZTrio and also had to submit as our major project for my sophomore year. I decided to choose the poem 'No Ordinary Sun' by Māori poet Hone Tuwhare (1922-2008) as I had thought we had a connection as Māori. In the poem, he describes the destruction of humanity using the 'monstrous' sun as a metaphor for the nuclear weapon bombshells. I set the poem to piano trio (violin, cello, piano), per the brief, and it was selected as a semi-finalist to be workshopped at the Music Theatre, School of Music, Auckland CBD, along with 10 other works. With Sarah Watkins on piano, Miranda Adams on violin and Ashley Brown on cello, the piece received much praise during the event, however it did not make it as a finalist piece. Eve de Castro-Robinson (lecturer at the University of Auckland at the time) said this about the piece:

"Excellent work Reuben, an impassioned and heartfelt creation with a ton of character in every phrase. You have clearly responded strongly to Tuwhare's work, and the solo forays for piano are dynamic and forceful. The beautiful cello opening sets the scene for a distinctive work and your harmonic language achieves adventurousness within tonality."

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