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Wellingtonians score at APRA Awards

Local composers won awards for film and TV music, and the SOUNZ Contemporary Award at the APRA Awards.

Lyttleton singer-songwriter Marlon Williams walked away with the APRA Silver Scroll last Thursday in Auckland for his song ‘Nobody Gets What They Want Anymore’ but five Wellingtonians were also awarded at the celebration of composition and songwriting.

Photo by Will Moore

Lukasz Buda, Samuel Scott and Conrad Wedde, best known for their work in The Phoenix Foundation (above), received the APRA Best Original Music in a Series Award for their nuanced soundtrack for the Australian TV series Cleverman, a futuristic drama with roots in Aboriginal mythology.

David Long (The Muttonbirds, Teeth) won the APRA Best Original Music in a Feature Film Award for his dramatic score for McLaren, the acclaimed documentary about NZ racing driver Bruce McLaren.

Wellington composer Michael Norris (below) won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award for the second time (his previous win was in 2014 for ‘Inner Phases’), with his composition ‘Sygyt’, a work for throatsinger, ensemble and live electronics that crosses musical and cultural boundaries.

The Wellington-based composer, software programmer and music theorist teaches composition, sonic arts and post-tonal music theory at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music and is editor of Wai-te-ata Music Press.  He is also the Co-Director of Stroma New Music Ensemble, who commissioned the winning work, written for Wellington-based throatsinger Jonny Marks, singer of the experimental band The All Seeing Hand who played at Space Place last night.

The work explores and imitates the two styles of Tuvan throat singing, sygyt and kargyraa, bringing together the traditional Tuvan singing with Western music.

“The richness of Jonny’s improvisational practice kickstarted the piece,” said Norris, “and provided me with a great pool of material to work with.

“I discovered he had great pitch, could quickly switch between the different styles of throatsinging, and could pluck a seventh harmonic out of the air at will.”

The SOUNZ Contemporary Award celebrates its 20th anniversary this year of recognising New Zealand compositions demonstrating outstanding levels of creativity and inspiration. has been presented in collaboration with APRA AMCOS NZ since 1998.

The other award of the night, the APRA Maioha Award recognising exceptional waiata featuring te reo Māori, went to Ria Hall, Tiki Taane and Te Ori Paki for their ballad Te Ahi Kai Pō, which raises awareness of inter-generational cultural disenfranchisement and draws on Hall’s family history.

The evening closed with the induction of Jenny Morris into the New Zealand Music Hall of Fame, with a tribute to her from long-time fan Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern, and a performance of ‘Break In The Weather’ by Ladyhawke.