29 Sep 2017

SOUNZ Contemporary Award Winner 2017 - Salina Fisher

From Upbeat, 1:25 pm on 29 September 2017
Composer Salina Fisher

Composer Salina Fisher Photo: Supplied

The traditional Māori flute the pūtōrino is the inspiration behind Salina Fisher’s 2017 SOUNZ Contemporary Award-winning work Tōrino. Commissioned in 2016 by Chamber Music New Zealand for performance by the New Zealand String Quartet, Tōrino is based on the pūtōrino playing of taonga pūoro musician Rob Thorne.


putorino Photo: supplied

This is the second consecutive year composer Salina Fisher has won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award - New Zealand's premier composition prize. In 2016 she became the youngest-ever winner for her work 'Rainphase'.

Born in 1993, Salina Fisher studied composition and violin performance at the New Zealand School of Music, and completed a Postgraduate Diploma (Distinction) in 2014 with supervisors John Psathas and Michael Norris. She won a Fullbright Scholarship this year to the Manhattan School of Music in New York City where she is currently pursuing a Masters in Music Composition with Susan Botti. She was also offered scholarships to Juilliard, the Peabody Institute and Stony Brook University in the US.

Fisher had to undergo the rigorous selection process in auditioning for these American schools.

Writing a piece in two days

writing a piece in two days Photo: salina fisher

The Manhattan School of Music audition included a three-hour exam, then an assignment to write a piece in two days. In between her Juilliard interview, Fisher took her laptop, violin and plenty of energy drinks and hunkered down in a hotel for two days to write. It sounds stressful, but she says it was fun. “It was a crazy feeling to be in NYC and furiously writing a piece through the night.”

The three finalists for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award 2017:

  • Salina Fisher for Tōrino- echoes on pūtōrino improvisations by Rob Thorne
  • Chris Gendall for Incident Tableaux Part One
  • Jeroen Speak for Serendipity Fields

Related Story

  • Salina Fisher on an upward spiral


    Get the RNZ app

    for easy access to all your favourite programmes