12 Apr 2017

Philip NORMAN: When Gravity Fails

From NZ Composer Sessions, 12:00 am on 12 April 2017

When Gravity Fails was especially composed as a 'calling-card' for violist Bryony Gibson-Cornish.

  • I. Flingamango Tango
  • II. Evening Romance
  • III. Isla's Blues

When Gravity Fails, a ‘mini concerto’ for viola and orchestra (and a version for viola and piano) was commissioned in 2014 by the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra for Bryony Gibson-Cornish, the orchestra’s 2013 young soloist of the year. The commission was promoted as part of her award package – a composition she could use to help promote herself as an emerging viola soloist, with either piano or orchestra as accompaniment. It was premièred by Bryony and the Auckland Philharmonia as part of its 'Discovery Concerts' in 2014 in Auckland Town Hall, conducted by Kenneth Young. 

Subsequent performances include as part of the Dame Malvina Major Foundation’s 'Share the Dream' concert at the Theatre Royal, Christchurch in 2015, soloist Bryony Gibson-Cornish with the combined Christchurch Youth Orchestra and Resonance Ensemble conducted by the composer.

Bryony has also performed the viola and piano version in New Zealand, as well as in New York at the The Juilliard School, at the Royal College of Music London, and several performances in nearby county centres. Two professional British clarinettists who heard her performances, independently enquired and subsequently co-commissioned a version for clarinet and piano. 


Composer Philip Norman

Composer Philip Norman Photo: Gareth Watkins/Wallace Arts Trust/Lilburn Trust

Composer, author, speaker, educator, conductor and publisher Philip Norman has been entertaining New Zealand audiences for forty-five years. His output of over 200 compositions ranges from orchestral, chamber music and opera (A Christmas Carol), through secular and sacred choral and vocal works, to musicals with playwright Roger Hall (including Love Off the Shelf and Footrot Flats – still New Zealand’s best-selling musical), and ballets for the Royal New Zealand Ballet such as the highly successful Peter Pan.

Recent compositions include Echoes of an Exhibition commissioned by the Sadler Jones Trust for the 25th anniversary of the Risingholme Orchestra, Christchurch 2017; and It’s Love Isn’t It? for solo classical guitar and reciter(s) commissioned by guitarist Matthew Marshall with funding from Creative New Zealand and the NZ Guitar Foundation, setting love poems by Alistair Te Ariki and Meg Campbell.

Philip holds a PhD in musicology and is the award-winning author of Douglas Lilburn: His Life and Music and the compiler and publisher of John Ritchie at Ninety: a festschrift. He was the inaugural Lilburn research fellow at the Alexander Turnbull Library in 2013 writing a history of composition in New Zealand, and a founding trustee of Christchurch’s The Piano: Centre for Music and the Arts. He was awarded a CNZM for services to music and music theatre in the 2015 Queen’s Birthday Honours list.

Recorded 12 April 2017, Michael Fowler Centre, Wellington by RNZ Concert for 2017 NZ Composer Sessions.

Producer: David McCaw

Engineer: Graham Kennedy

Get the RNZ app

for easy access to all your favourite programmes