17 Feb 2015

Maria GRENFELL: Hinemoa

From NZ Composer Sessions, 12:00 am on 17 February 2015

Hinemoa is inspired by a beautiful Maori fairytale.

Maria Grenfell: Hinemoa (2007)

In the North Island of New Zealand there is an island called Mokoia in the middle of Lake Rotorua. At night the moon shines in the water, which is always rippling, never rough or stormy. Once there was a warrior named Tutanekai, who lived on the island. Across the water on the mainland there was a beautiful young woman named Hinemoa. One day Hinemoa and Tutanekai caught sight of each other and fell in love, but Hinemoa’s father would not permit her to marry. Tutanekai loved to play his flute, and when he was lonely he would sit each night and play his soulful haunting sounds. Hinemoa would hear the flute and dream of her loved one, unaware that it was him playing. Tutanekai came up with a plan. Hinemoa was to wait until her tribe was sleeping, and then go down to the water and paddle a canoe out towards Mokoia, following the sounds of the flute. But Hinemoa could not find a canoe close enough to the water. Night after night she could not find a canoe, but all the while she heard Tutanekai’s music floating over the lake. So, one desperate evening, she decided to go on her own. She gathered up some dried gourds, lay down and pushed herself out into the water. Although exhausted, she listened to the music and kept paddling, getting colder and weaker as she reached Mokoia. Pulling herself ashore, Hinemoa found a pool of hot sulphurous water, where she gradually became warm again and began to wonder how Tutanekai would be able to find her. Suddenly in the darkness she heard footsteps. Terrified, she cried, “Who is there?” She lay hiding until she heard some more voices. It was Tutanekai, whose servant had run back to the village saying that there was someone hiding in the hot pool. At last, Hinemoa and Tutanekai were able to be together, because of her brave journey across the water guided by the music of Tutanekai’s flute.


Maria Grenfell was born in Malaysia in 1969 and raised in Christchurch, New Zealand, graduating with a Master of Music degree from the University of Canterbury. She completed further studies in the United States of America, gaining a Master of Arts from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York, and a doctorate from the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, where she was also a lecturer. Her teachers have included Stephen Hartke, Erica Muhl, James Hopkins and Morten Lauridsen in Los Angeles, and Joseph Schwantner and Samuel Adler in New York.

Maria Grenfell

Maria Grenfell Photo: Anthony McKee

Maria Grenfell’s work takes much of its influence from poetic, literary and visual sources and from non-Western music and literature. Her works are performed by musicians such as the Australia Ensemble, The Seymour Group, the Vienna Piano Trio, the NZTrio, Palisades Virtuosi (New Jersey USA) and Antipoduo (Netherlands). Orchestras that have commissioned, performed or recorded her music include the Adelaide, Melbourne, Queensland, Sydney, Tasmanian, West Australian Symphony Orchestras, New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, Auckland Chamber Orchestra, Wellington Sinfonia and the Christchurch Symphony. Maria Grenfell’s music is broadcast regularly on ABC Classic FM in Australia and RNZ Concert in New Zealand, and is released on Tall Poppies, Kiwi-Pacific and Trust CDs. Her works are available from the Australian Music Centre, SOUNZ, and Reed Music.

Recent commissions include Rock hopping: for orchestra (2012) and Tarraleah (2014) for Tasmania Symphony Orchestra, as well as Ten Suns Ablaze (2013) for the Australia Ensemble, for which she won an Australian Art Music Award.

Maria co-ordinates and teaches at the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestras Australian Composers School, an annual emerging composer program. She has also been a violinist with the Christchurch Symphony and the New Zealand Youth Orchestra, and has performed bowed piano with the University of Southern California Percussion Ensemble. Her awards include the Jimmy McHugh Composition Prize and the Halsey Stevens Prize from the University of Southern California, the Composers’ Association of New Zealand Trust Fund Award and the University of Otago’s prestigious Philip Neill Memorial Prize. Maria lives in Hobart, Australia, with her husband, guitarist David Malone, and son, Alexander, and is a lecturer in music at the University of Tasmania Conservatorium of Music.

Recorded 17 February 2015, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert for 2015 NZ Composer Sessions.

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