The annual Alan Robinson Memorial Award for most promising first-year guitarist was jointly awarded to David Stupples and Justis Atkins-Te Kowhai, who both achieved a very similar grade at the end of their first year of study at Ara Music Arts (2016). Alan Robinson was a promising guitar student who passed away during his studies at Ara Music Arts (formerly CPIT Jazz School). This guitar award is given in his memory.
This is the seventeenth year the award has been presented, and has the names of many great guitar graduates on it, including David Haslett (currently touring NZ), Andrew Knopp (recently returned from Canada with his wife/band mate), Sam Blakelock (based in New York) and Richard Ashby (based in Sydney).
Programme Leader Gwyn Reynolds of the recipients;
“It’s great to see the award going to two students who are both into different genres of music [Jazz for David and Contemporary for Justis] but who are both expressing their passion for music through the same medium, the electric guitar. Both these guys are already great players and I can’t wait to hear them in a few years’ time.”
Photo – (from Left) Des Robinson, David Stupples, Gwyn Reynolds (Programme Leader – Ara Music Arts), Richard Marrett (Manager, Performing Arts)
Ara Music Arts are excited to be partnering with the ‘All Ears’ team to bring this unique week of workshops to New Zealand from January 23-27, 2017.
This week long program is a great opportunity for musicians of any age and ability. It provides participants a format to explore jazz and improvised music in a fun, safe and nurturing environment, while focusing on developing improvisation skills in the time honored tradition of the jazz greats: learning by ear.
"All Ears is a jazz and improvised music program designed by veteran US educators Dr. Arthur Falbush and Keith Pray. With 14 years of collaborating on many educational programs and with over 50 years of combined teaching experience, All by Ear is an evolution of the original method of learning jazz (by ear).
Jazz musicians since the earliest days of the music learned to play by imitating other musicians.
All Ears takes this concept into an educational environment and provides participants the opportunity to learn how to improve their jazz playing while being supervised by experience jazz musicians and veteran teachers."
Recalling her earliest memories of her mother singing and playing piano while the family sung in harmony alongside, Ara Music Arts graduate Lauren Barus, AKA LA Mitchell was destined for a career in music.
With her mother making piano lessons compulsory from the age of 6, Lauren recalls enjoying formulating chords but despising sight-reading.
“My grandmother had a small portable record player, my aunt had a collection of 45’s of Elvis and David Bowie under her old bed” she tells, “I remember being around 7 and spending hours playing Space Oddity over, and over again. I adored The Doors and spent a lot of my teens transcribing the organ solos”
Feeling that the curriculum was too restrictive, Barus refused to study music in High School in fear of judgment, instead confining herself to music in her spare time.
Picking up the guitar at age 15, Lauren starting writing songs in the vein of Pearl Jam, Beck, Pavement and Sebodoh, artists she was listening to at the time. She also cites Bic Runga’s debut as helping inspire her first forays into song writing.
“I was led to the belief in my teen years that you couldn’t make money out of music, (I was yet to learn that song-writing was a job) so I needed to justify the cost of study and how I was going to use music study to make a living and finance my wonton desires to pontificate my music. I researched all the institutions. I decided that although piano was my first instrument, I didn’t want to be a piano teacher. So I picked voice. I felt The Ara Music Arts course at the time, and still now, has the best Vocal tutors in the country. So I decided to come here for that tutelage.”
“I found my time at Ara to be academically really rewarding, creatively really challenging, personally transformative. I think the most important thing the Music Arts course gave me was time and space. You cannot underestimate the importance of having time to get really deep within your subject. Unrestrained time, in a space that is purpose built and designed to support the intention of becoming a master craftsperson. I took away from it all the tools I have ever needed, and some I didn’t know I needed, to be a successful session musician, writer, and professional performer.”
“My relationship with the tutors was inspiring, sometimes tumultuous, on my part, always tilted towards challenging me to be more than I thought I was capable of being. It inspired great care and respect for my instrument and for the world of professional musicianship.”
After graduating Lauren performed locally playing Jazz, as her profile grew she appeared in numerous Jazz and arts festivals across the country. Continuing to write and record independently, she released 2 album projects and 2 EP’s of original material. She was nominated in the top 20 Apra Silver Scroll award 2 years running for the songs Apple Heart and When It’s All Too Much.
“Since then I’ve worked with Christchurch Band, Dukes, achieving a platinum single with our song Vampires. I worked as a session musician for Dave Dobbyn, Bic Runga, Tim Finn, Anna Codington and Sola Rosa, Touring around NZ Multiple times as well as Australia, the UK, Singapore and Dubai.
In 2009 she become a regular member of the collaborative touring ensemble ‘ Fly My Pretties, featuring on 3 albums and 4 Nation wide tours and 2 Australian tours. Barus currently splits her time between being a mother, managing a café and working on a variety of musical projects, one with her husband called Terrible Sons.
The 2016 Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra, which rehearses every Monday evening at Ara Music Arts, performed it’s first concert of the season. Originally formed by Tom Rainey in 2011, it was restarted in 2015 through a collaboration between the Big Band Festival committee and Ara Music Arts.
This year the best young jazz musicians from around the city, ably led by Ara Music Arts tutor Scott Taitoko, have continued the tradition of big Band music. Of the band Scott says, “It’s been great watching all the different musicians from all the secondary schools come together, making new friendships and creating great big band sounds”.
Vocals – Ella Dunbar-Wilcox – Burnside High School
Alto Sax 1 – Ryan Hall – ex-Burnside High School
Alto Sax 2 – Stacey Potter – Burnside High School
Tenor Sax 1 – Aiden McCulloch – Cashmere High School
Tenor Sax 2 – Alena LeNgoc ex–Papanui High School
Bari Sax – Mahon Moevao ex-Papanui High School
Trombone 1 – Ben Rainey ex–St Andrews College
Trombone 2 – James MacKay – ex-Nayland College
Trombone 3 – Serge Beaton – St Andrews’ College
Trombone 4 – Rebecca Harris - RangiRuru Girls’ High School
Trumpet 1 – David Petch – Burnside High School
Trumpet 2 – Angus Rainey – St Andrews’ College
Trumpet 3 - Toby Buckner – Riccarton High School
Trumpet 4 – Stephen Mosa’ati – Burnside High School
Piano – Frankie Daly – ex-Marion College
Guitar - Matt Howes – Burnside High School
Bass – Hamish Smith – Burnside High School
Drums – Kyle Martin – Papanui High School
Drums - Karen Hu – Rangiruru Girls’ High School
The final concert of the season will be opening for the ‘James Morrison with the Symposium Jazz Orchestra’ concert. Scott again, “What an opportunity for these young musicians to play with James Morrison, an absolute jazz icon! The students are over the moon. Such a fantastic occasion to finish up a solid season”
Ara Music Arts Graduate Johnny Lawrence’s journey as a musician started with his father, a classical pianist in Christchurch. Originally a guitarist, the bass became Johnny’s primary instrument after joining his father’s band.
“I eventually fell in love with it…at first I just wanted to play guitar, but [it was] the foundational aspect - how you’re the grounding the band. I love that big bass sound sitting at the bottom of a groove.”
Johnny credits another Music Arts graduate and his High School Bass tutor, Brett Hirst, with inspiring him to audition for the program. On reflection Johnny describes the positive environment and expertise of the tutors with making the program such an enjoyable experience.
As with many Music Arts graduates, Johnny spent the next several years aboard the cruise ships, playing first with a big band, before switching to a jazz trio.“I spent way too long on the cruise ships, I think on or off for about 6 or 7 years. The Jazz trio was great though, we really took it to the future by mixing electronic and groove into the mix.”
From there he went on to Asia playing the hotel covers circuit, before moving to Canada where he focused his playing on rock and pop before returning home to NZ in 2014.
“I loved playing with musicians of so many nationalities, especially Americans. I have a big love for American music and they seem to have the spirit of that music in them. Some of them truly are on another level and a bit more aggressive about making it.”
Since returning to New Zealand Johnny has found success with R&B/Soul/Electronica heroes Electric Wire Hustle. Having recently recorded and toured with them after relocating to Wellington.
“Work hard and play as much as you can with many different people is my advice. Stay hungry and committed to the music. If you have a passion for it you have to go for it. Keep your head down and dig deep and enjoy it!”
Sax Quartet - Gwyn Reynolds - Q & A
Tell us about your latest project.
Christchurch jazz drummer Ted Meager has composed and arranged a handful of amazing sax quartets. I’m slowly playing through them, recording all the parts and putting them on YouTube.
They’re that good, I reckon people need to listen to them. Hopefully some sax teachers might purchase them off Ted and get their students to have a go at them. The versions on YouTube will also help the students hear how they go. There written at a great level for advanced students. And, it’s been really fun to try and get them sounding as good as I can. Learning all the studio techniques is a continual process of discovery, and there’s always a curly line or two in each arrangement, so it’s always a blast trying to find the best take(s) on each sax to hopefully blend together coherently.
How many have you completed?
Five finished with a few more to go. I really love the craftsmanship of the lines and the beautiful addition of the new material in them. Ted’s love of jazz and the depth of his knowledge of the genre comes to the fore in these, and there’s the unmistakable infectious Ted-isms throughout the pieces that just makes me smile. The whole-tone scales and arpeggios, the clever reharmonisations and ‘singable’ melodies to name just a few of Ted’s signature moves.
The biggest challenge has been jumping between the saxes. I try to do the whole piece in one sitting, starting with the baritone and moving up the horns ending with the soprano, crash mixing as I go to ensure it all syncs up. Placing the baritone notes at the front of the beat has been a real challenge, as I’m used to playing near the back of the beat – too much listening and transcribing of the great Dexter Gordon I suppose. Then the rest of the horns can lay back a bit on the baritone track to hopefully make it sound ok.
How do we listen to them, and is it possible to buy the scores/parts?
You can listen to the five I’ve completed on YouTube. Harlem Nocturne, It’s You Or No-One, Dedicated To You, Young At Heart, Apocalypso. If you want to purchase the scores/parts, contact Ara Music Arts and we’ll hook you up with Ted. I’m not sure of the cost of them. I reckon they’re worth their weight in gold, but Ted’ll probably let you have each one for the price of a couple decent bottles of vino. Hope you get as much enjoyment out of listening to them as I’ve had playing them.
Ara Music Arts tutor Cameron Pearce talks to us about his recently completed project ‘Modern Etudes for Solo Trumpet’.
What is an etude?
1. a piece of music for the practice of a point of technique.
2. a composition built on a technical motive but played for its artistic value.
My aim was to compose a collection of solo etudes carefully crafted for jazz trumpet. These etudes would be published as a brass text. The text would come with recordings of each etude and it was my hope going into this that I could secure some “big names” in the jazz trumpet world to get involved in this project and record these etudes for me.
The plan was to compose etudes that were completely practical throughout for the jazz trumpeter. These new compositions would not only be technically demanding but importantly, the etudes were to be based on and inspired from jazz harmony. This was the key point of difference between my project and the many classically influenced etude books currently available and I felt that if everything came together there could be significant interest in the outcome of this project.
I composed the etudes off and on over a period of about six months. I found this to be a really enjoyable process which involved plenty of analysis of existing solo etudes which were predominantly classical but I was also able to look at what was already on offer for jazz musicians under the banner of “jazz etudes”. These nearly always ended up being written out improvised solo lines which could be played along to a backing track. These are a great resource but quite different to the type of pieces that I intended to create and it was encouraging to see that my compositions, once completed would be relatively unique to the jazz trumpet community.
While I was still in the middle of writing the etudes, I began contacting potential trumpeters to see if they might be interested in recording an etude or two for me. In a couple of cases the musicians were in the “friend of a friend” category but essentially I was contacting them out of the blue and so I went into this stage with not overly high expecations but at the same time I figured I had nothing to lose.
As it turns out the response was very positive and I soon ended up with a stellar lineup of with internationally renowned, New York based, jazz trumpeters who were keen to be involved including Dave Douglas, Ingrid Jensen, Scott Wendholt, Terell Stafford and Nick Marchione.
The Bunker Studio – NYC
Once the etudes were completed and the performers confirmed, I flew to New York to record performances of the etudes at The Bunker Studio in Brooklyn.
This was an amazing studio to record in and is co-owned by New Zealander Aaron Nevezie who I played with in the New Zealand Youth Jazz Orchestra back in 1997 – sometimes it really is a small world.
That recording session was something I’ll never forget. I did my best to “play it cool” as one trumpet hero after another walked in the door to play my original compositions. It was all a bit surreal.
With the recordings all completed I returned to Christchurch where I tidied up the tracks before sending them off for mastering with Dave Cooper.
At this time I also put the finishing touches to the scores for each etude and sent them off to Michael Story who did a fantastic job designing the book.
With the design work complete and the audio tracks edited, mixed and mastered, all that remained was to contact potential publishing companies to see there was any interest in publishing my work.
As with the trumpeters who had come on board, I decided that I had nothing to lose and that I should aim as high as possible in regards to the quality and reputation of the publishers.
The name right at the top of my list was Sher Music Co.
Sher Music are one of the top (if not the top) publishers in the world of jazz and latin publications. Many, many key resources used at Ara Music Arts and in countless music schools worldwide come from Sher Music including the Real Book Series, the bestselling ‘The Jazz Theory Book’ by Mark Levine, ‘The Jazz Piano Book’ by Mark Levine and ‘The Jazz Musician’s Guide to Creative Practicing’ by David Berkman to name just a few.
Within a couple of hours of emailing Sher Music, I received a reply from Chuck Sher expressing interest in my book. He was going to send it around to a few people to get their opinion on it and then he’d get back to me. Chuck emailed a few days later to say that the response had been very positive and that he’d like to publish the book. I was pretty rapt.
The book ‘Modern Etudes for Solo Trumpet’ is due to be released in October, 2016. You can keep an eye you for it at www.shermusic.com
I would like to thank all of those at Ara whose support made this project possible, in particular those at the Ara Research office.
The 2016 judges of JazzQuest are Richard Pickard and Matt Steele. The competition is almost full with a number of schools increasing their amount of jazz bands participating. It's an indication that Christchurch secondary school jazz music is in great shape and being advanced by strong leadership from HoD's, teachers and band leaders.
JazzQuest is extremely pleased to continue the tradition of getting the country's top jazz players and educators to judge the competition. Recent judges include Nick Granville, Dixon Nacey, Daniel Hayes and Lauren Ellis.
Matt Steele is a young Wellington based jazz pianist and keyboard player. A dynamic performer and teacher, in his music Matt demonstrates a "'wider awareness, an openness, and a hunger for what is just out of reach" (John Fenton, Jazz Journalists Association, 2014). He is the 2012 winner of the Lewis Eady Charitable Trust Emerging Artists Series and has played with many musicians and bands throughout New Zealand and Australia including - Lisa Tomlins, Lex French, Roger Manins, Chelsea Prastiti, Julien Dyne, Myele Manzanza, The Aviators, Auckland Jazz Orchestra and Pyramids. Major festival performances include R&V, Parihaka and the Tauranga National Jazz Festival. (Photo credit John Fenton)
With over twenty years of professional experience, Richie has played extensively throughout New Zealand and globally in a range of formats.
As both an electric and double bass player he has performed with international artists including Josh Groban, Elaine Paige and Mary Coughlan and with some of New Zealand's top musicians, bands, and songwriters including Breaks Co-op, Julia Deans, Dave Dobbyn, Anika Moa and Annie Crummer.
Alongside his professional music career, he has also established himself as a progressive and dynamic music educator, teaching at some of New Zealand's leading schools and institutions including the University of Canterbury, CPIT (now Ara) and the University of Auckland.
He's currently a senior tutor on the Auckland Philharmonia's 'Sistema Aotearoa' programme, based in South Auckland.
Ara Music Arts graduate Jackson Hardaker's journey as a professional Trombonist began like many others. His parents instilled an early passion for music, but it wasn't until his second year on the instrument that he really started listening.
"I don't think at that stage I was even paying attention to who the artists were I was listening to." He admits, "I was just concentrating on the playing, soaking it all in. When I was about 14 I started digging into people, Thelonious Monk, those kind of cats."
Dissatisfied with his high school's classical music focus, he joined the Ara Music Arts big band before auditioning for the programme in 2006.
"I did a stint before hand where I thought I was going to be a computer scientist! I did a year at UC, but I found I just really missed playing. So I decided to follow my passion and take the leap."
"I think for me the most enjoyable thing about the course was that I never got the sense that the tutors were standing on a pedestal. There was a really big sense that we were in it together and the tutors would often let us in on the projects they were working on. We'd often hang out for a coffee or go to the pub and have a chat, it made for a really good learning environment."
After graduating in 2009 Jackson moved to New York to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Now a resident of the big apple, he plays on the local scene wherever the opportunity arises in venues ranging from Le Poisson Rouge (formally the illustrious Village Gate) to Forest Fills Stadium (the venue of several renown Beatles gigs). May last year he released his first album 'Watering Can'.
"It's certainly a better city to be a music fan than a musician. There's so many musicians out there, any given night you can go out and see however many people you'd want and they're all fantastic. It's a challenging city and there's a lot of competition. You can't beat it."
"If you're serious about becoming a professional musician, go for it. I loved the Music Arts course, there's nothing strenuous, but if you're just gonna coast through and do the bare minimum, that's what you'll get out of it. The best musicians I've seen that have come out of the course went that extra mile. The music arts course gave me the perfect grounding to jump off and do a whole lot more than I would have otherwise."
Here at Ara Music Arts we are extremely proud to be involved with the NZ International Blues & Jazz Festival 2016 (25-29 May). Not only are we hosting our special Anniversary Gala Concert and a 4-night 6pm series of concerts, but plenty of our tutors and graduates are performing in various acts & bands.
Here's a run-down . . . .
Ara Music Arts 6pm Series (multiple nights) featuring tutors Darren Pickering (piano), Reuben Derrick (sax), Michael Story (bass), ex-tutor Ted Meager (drums). And graduates Alice Tanner (vocals), Chris Wethey (bass), Heather Webb (guitar), Cameron Burnett (drums), Tyson Smith (guitar), Tim Sellars (drums), Glen Wagstaff (guitar), Tamara Smith (flute).
Stevie Wonder Tribute featuring tutors Kate Taylor (vocals), Gwyn Reynolds (sax). Cameron Pearce (trumpet), Darren Pickering (keys), Michael Story (bass), Andy Genge (guitar), Luke Smillie (drums). And graduate Chris Burke (sax)
Tami Neilson featuring tutor Joe McCallum (drums) - Friday 27 May, 7.30pm, Transitional Cathedral, $49.
La Petite Manouche featuring graduates Robbie Averill (guitar), Burke Goff (guitar) - Wednesday 25 May, 7pm, George Hotel, $160 (with meal).
Yellow Moon featuring tutor Harry Harrison (guitar) & graduate Justine Snelgrove (sax,flute) - Thursday 26 May, 7pm, George Hotel, $160 (with meal).
Radius featuring tutor Harry Harrison (guitar,banjo) & graduate Justine Snelgrove (sax,flute) - Friday 27 May, 7pm, George Hotel, $160 (with meal).
Hetty Kate & James Sherlock featuring tutor Michael Story (bass) - Friday 27 May, 7.30pm, The Gym, $40.
Gerard Masters featuring graduates Brett Hirst (bass), Dan Kennedy (drums), Gerard Masters (piano) - Thursday 26 May, 1pm, The Gym, $12.
Jennine Bailey graduate (vocals) - Friday 27 May, 1pm, The Gym, $12.
Late Night Jazz Slam (multiple nights) featuring tutors Darren Pickering (piano), Michael Story (bass), Luke Smillie (drums). And graduates Emma Hattaway (bass), Heather Webb (guitar), Mitch Thomas (drums), Oakley Grenell (guitar), Johnny Lawrence (bass), Tamara Smith (flute), Tyson Smith (guitar), Chris Burke (sax), Robbie Averill (guitar), Burke Goff (guitar), Tim Driver (keys), Manny Addis (guitar), Nick Bosman (bass).
This is the 11th year of JazzQuest, the Ara Music Arts competition aimed at showcasing all the talented students and vibrant jazz programmes within the secondary and intermediate schools. 2016 introduces a new category into the mix.
The Ensemble category (8-12 people) will cater to those schools with smaller music departments who are unable to fill all the positions in a big band and have up until now been competing with full big bands. This aligns the competition more closely with other regional competitions like Blenheim's Southern Jam.
The competition keeps going from strength to strength. In 2015, the competition spilled over to starting on the Friday afternoon to cater to increased demand. There were also added prizes via sponsors Orange Studios and Musicworks, and hype surrounding the competition was intensified via social media. The judges' flights have booked and the lollies purchased for the goodie bags. See you in August!
It’s exciting to hear there’s a new big band in town. We already have vibrant community big bands like The Garden City Big Band, Sideline Swing, as well as the Symposium Ensemble that forms for larger events and festival, but it’s great to welcome another big band into the mix. What sets this ensemble apart from the rest is that it’s made up entirely of women.
I asked Kate Taylor, co-founder of the band why she had created an All Girls Big Band?
“I was chatting with Lana Law (sax player and the other co-founder) one day and
and the topic came up about Big Bands containing only women. We looked at each other and said “Could we do this in such a small city?” So we reeled off the names. And we found that we could, so we did!”
A quick google search shows a proud tradition of all-female bands dating back decades to their heyday during WW2 when swing/dance bands were in huge demand and many male players were unavailable.
In Christchurch, jazz education remains strong, and the 2015 Christchurch Youth Jazz Orchestra had a 50:50 male/female ratio. An indication the All Girls Big Band shouldn’t have to worry about recruitment in the future.
Players include current tutors of Ara Music Arts, graduates of the jazz programme, and both secondary school students and teachers.
Rehearsals are being held at Ara Music Arts, and the band has just had their first gig at The Court Theatre and have their next gig on May 20th as part of the After Work Series. The main goal is to present a Natalie Cole tribute at a festival in the near future.
In 2011 Ara Music Arts was due to celebrate its 20th birthday. As for many 20 year olds a party was in order with live music and lots of catch-ups with old friends and family.
February 22nd rolled around (excuse the pun) and Mother Nature had other plans for us. Over the next few years the school worked through building changes and continuous rumbles only to grow in strength and determination of bringing live music back to the central city.
2016 brings the 25th anniversary of Ara Music Arts and the celebrations have already begun.
In conjunction with The Cavell Leitch International Jazz and Blues festival Ara Music arts will kick off the festival with a gala concert held at the beautifully restored Theatre Royal on May 25th at 730pm.
Celebrating 25 years of Jazz education in Christchurch this concert brings together a stunning array of graduates, staff and current students in what promises to be a night of celebration not to be missed.
Founded in 1991,and formally known as the Jazz school, Ara Music Arts has played a major part in the musical life of the city, through its training of many musicians, and performances at its facilities in High Street.
With alumni scattered around the globe, coming together for this special performance will be well known graduates now firmly established in Australia – Gerard Masters, Brett Hirst, Dan Kennedy, Susan De Jong and Oakley Grenell. Founding tutors Doug Caldwell, Bob Heinz, Ted Meager and Tom Rainey will perform, along with current students.
Other contributors include Gwyn Reynolds, Scott Taitoko, Andy Genge, Johnny Lawrence, Cam Pearce, Darren Pickering, Harry Harrison, Michael Story, and singers Kate Taylor, Anna Whitaker, Jennine Bailey and Juliet Reynolds Midgley.
Special performances by Oval Office, Departure Lounge, LA Mitchell and the Nativa Band, and Muklisa featuring Tim Sellars, Glenn Wagstaff, Tamara Smith and Tyson smith will round out to what promises to be a unique and special evening.
Events will be held throughout the year with performances in conjunction with The Big Band festival in October.
Jazz school has been a second home to many of the performers around Christchurch. It will be honour to celebrate this fine establishment and the education, top quality performers, arrangers and singer/songwriters it continues to deliver.
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