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Gillian Whitehead (1941-    )

Gillian Whitehead, composerDame Gillian Whitehead was born in Hamilton, New Zealand. She studied at the University of Auckland, and Victoria University of Wellington, graduating BMus Hons in 1964. She then studied composition at the University of Sydney with Peter Sculthorpe from 1964-65, graduating MMus in 1966. That same year she attended a composition course given by Peter Maxwell Davies in Adelaide and in 1967 travelled to England to continue studying with him. She worked in London composing and copying music for two years and then with the assistance of a New Zealand Arts Council grant worked in Portugal and Italy from 1969-70. For the next seven years she continued freelance composing, principally based in the UK. From 1978-80 she was Composer in Residence for Northern Arts attached to Newcastle University (UK). In 1981 Whitehead returned to Australasia to join the staff of the Composition School at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music and was for four years Head of Composition there before taking early retirement in 1996. She now divides her time as a free-lance composer between Sydney and Dunedin, New Zealand. In 2000 she became one of the inaugural Artist Laureates of the NZ Arts Foundation and is now a governor of the organisation. During 2000 and 2001 she was Composer in Residence at the Auckland Philharmonia and her orchestral work, the improbable ordered dance written during the Residency won the 2001 SOUNZ Contemporary Award. She won the award again in 2003 for Alice, a major work for mezzo  soprano and orchestra. Whitehead has written a wide range of music including works for solo, chamber, choral, orchestral and operatic forces, most of them direct commissions from performers and funding organisations. In 2003 she was given a Dmus (honoris causa) by Victoria University of Wellington, and in 2007 the KBB Citation for outstanding services to New Zealand Music. In 2008 she became a Distinguished Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, one of New Zealand’s highest honours.

COMPOSITIONS                                                            Whitehead Links     ~ ~ ~     Works by Genre
[under construction]
Aria from "Outrageous Fortune", soprano, taonga puoro, flute, bassoon, cello and piano (
Ahotu (O Matenga), chamber ensemble (
Alice, an 8 mvt monodrama, mezzo-soprano and orchestra (
Almost an Island, soprano (or low voice) and piano (
Angels born at the speed of light, narrator, dancer and improvising trio (flute/saxophone, percussion, piano)
Antiphons, brass nonet (  
Arapatiki, a "landscape prelude", piano (
Awa Herea (Braided Rivers), song cycle, soprano and piano (
Beloved ..., violin (
Bright Forms Return, mezzo-soprano and string quartet (
Bright Silence, violin (
Camelot, mezzo-soprano, piano and bassoon (
Castle Hill, band (
Central Soundscapes, small orchestra (
E rewa mai, e ra, unaccompanied voice (high or low) (      
Eleanor of Aquitaine, mezzo and chamber orchestra (
F/Wh/Fugue, mezzo-soprano, piano, bassoon and male choir (
Fantasia on Three Notes, piano (
Five Bagatelles, piano (
Five Songs of Hildegard Von Bingen, chorus (
For Timothy prelude, two pieces and a postlude, guitar (
Four Short Pieces, piano (
Girl with a Guitar: Words for Music, mezzo-soprano, cello and piano (
Haiku, soprano voice, viola and piano (
Hineputehue, string quartet and taonga puoro (Maori instruments) (
Hineraukatauri duo for piccolo/flute/alto flute, and Maori flutes      
Hineteiwaiwa for taonga puoro and chamber ensemble      
Hinetekakara for voice, taonga puoro, and bassoon
Hinetekakara for voice, flute/alto flute, and taonga puoro (improvised part)    
Hinetekakara for kaikaranga, taonga puoro, flute, bassoon and cello      
Hinetekakara for voice, taonga puoro, flute, alto flute, and bassoon      
Hoar frost with fire siren, piano (
Hoata, chamber orchestra (
Hotspur, mezzo soprano and chamber ensemble (
Ipu, narrator, taonga puoro (Maori instruments), jazz piano and cello (
Karohirohi, harp and orchestra (
La Cadenza Sia Corta, piano (
Landscape with quail, piano (
Low Tide Aramoana, mezzo-soprano, chorus and brass (
Lullaby for Matthew, piano (
Manutaki, chamber sextet (
Mata-au, clarinet *
Missa Brevis, chorus (
Moments, chorus (
Moon, Tides and Shoreline, string quartet (
Moonstone, viola and piano (
Napier's Bones, 6 virtuoso percussionists and improvising jazz piano (
Napier's Bones, 24 percussionists and improvising jazz piano (
Naumai e te ao marama, voice and koauau (Taonga Puoro) (
Nga ha o nehera, bassoon (
Okuru, violin and piano (
Out of this Nettle, Danger, a monodrama on Katherine Mansfield, mezzo-soprano and chamber sextet (
Outlines through rising mist, piano (
Outrageous Fortune, chamber opera in two acts (
Pao, mezzo-soprano, clarinet and piano (
Passio, voices, brass, woodwind and percussion (
Puhake ki te rangi, string quartet and taonga puoro (
Pukeko, piano (
Qui Natus Est, a carol, chorus (
Quintet, oboe, clarinet, horn, bassoon and piano (
Requiem, mezzo-soprano and organ (
Resurgences, orchestra (
Ricercare, viola (
Riddles 1, 3-part female chorus and harp (
Riddles 2, soprano and piano (
River talk, piano (
sad song on a rainy day, piano (2007)
Six Songs of Umberto Saba, soprano and clarinet (
Symphony: The Islands, baritone and orchestra (2000) [text: Charles Brasch] [co-composed with Jack Speirs]
Taiohi taiao, chorus [SSAATBB] and koauau (2004) [text: Aroha Yates-Smith]
Taking a line for a walk, piano (
Tamatea Tutahi, piano (
Taurangi, flute and piano (
Te Ahua, Te Atarangi, string quartet (
Te ao marama, voice and traditional Maori instruments (te taonga puoro) (
Te mauri o te awa, 2 voices unaccompanied (
Te Tangi a Apakura, string orchestra (
The Art of Pizza, chamber opera in 2 acts, 12 singers and ensemble (
The Bride of Fortune, chamber opera (
The Children of Rangi and Papa, tone poem, chamber ensemble (
The improbable ordered dance, orchestra (
The Inner Harbour, chorus and chamber orchestra (
The Journey of Matuku Moana, cello (
The King of the other Country, chamber opera (
The Pirate Moon, opera (
The Tinker's Curse, childrens' opera (
The Virgin and the Nightingale (5 songs), voices (      
the wind was in their wings, string quartet (
These Isles your Dream,  mezzo-soprano, viola and piano (
Three Improvisations for Solo Oboe (
Three Songs of Janet Frame, soprano and chamber ensemble (
Three Windows in the Weather, reciter, bassoon and piano (

Tristan and Iseult, chamber opera (1975) [libretto: Malcolm Crowthers and Michael Hill]
Voices of Tane Seven, piano pieces for children (1976)
Wulf, female reciter, flute, clarinet, violin, cello, piano and percussion (1976) [text: Old English Poem, trans. by Bill Manhire]
Tirea, oboe, violin, cello, harpsichord and strings (1978)
Tongues, Swords, Keys, 8 singers and 4 percussionists (1985) [text: Randolph Stow]
Windstreams, solo percussion (1985)
Tom's Serenade to Ann Morris, oboe, violin, cello and piano (2002)
what's the taniwha's story?, piano (2007)
Tūmanako: Journey through an unknown landscape, piano (2010)
Tōrua, violin and piano (2011)

WORKS BY GENRE                                                            Whitehead Links     ~ top of page ~
[under construction]



Soloist(s) w/Orchestra

Chorus w/Orchestra



Instrument and Piano

Solo Instrument






Solo Instrument


Solo Percussion

Percussion Ensemble

Percussion Method Books and Etudes

WHITEHEAD  LINKS                                                            Works by Genre      ~ top of page ~
[under construction]

Composer's website (@ Sound NZ)   . . .   contact Gillian Whitehead:  here
Composer's website (@ The Arts Foundation)

Whitehead @ Wikipedia
Whitehead @
Whitehead @ The Arts Foundation
Whitehead @ Australian Music Centre
Whitehead @ Facebook
Whitehead @ InstantEncore
Whitehead @ International New Zealand Artists
Whitehead @ LinkedIn
Whitehead @ MDT
Whitehead @ Musical Pointers (via Google Advanced Search)
Whitehead @ MusicWeb International
Whitehead @ The New York Times
Whitehead @ New Zealand String Quartet    also    here
Whitehead @ Rattle Records
Whitehead @ SouNZ
Whitehead @ Sunday Star Times
Whitehead @ Women's Philharmonic Advocacy Blog

Whitehead @ Australian Music Centre
Whitehead @ Centre for New Zealand Music
Whitehead @ Grevillea Editions
Whitehead @ Price Milburn Music
Whitehead @ Sounds Australian
Whitehead @ SouNZ
Whitehead @ Wai-te-ata Press

Streaming Audio
Whitehead @
Whitehead @ MySpaceMusic
Whitehead @ SouNZ

Whitehead @
Whitehead @ ArkivMusic
Whitehead @ CD Universe
Whitehead @ ClassicsOnline
Whitehead @ Discogs
Whitehead @ itunes
Whitehead @ MDT
Whitehead @ Musistica
Whitehead @ Naxos
Whitehead @ Rattle Records

Whitehead @ YouTube
Whitehead @ Google Video
Whitehead @ Vimeo (via Google Advanced Search)

Whitehead on Whitehead: On Composing and Life w/Hilary Hahn (VIDEO)

Whitehead on Whitehead: On Composing (streaming audio)
Composer, composerComposers Speak on the Web at Pytheas
                            ~ click on composer picture to listen ~

. . . and check out more    Composers Speak on the Web    at Pytheas


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