Jack and Brigitte

In the late 70s I became secretary of the composers organisation CANZ and had to visit Wellington for meetings. By this time my father had left Wellington and so I was delighted when Jack invited me to stay at his place. I came to know him as one of the most original of New Zealand’s composers and one who did more than any other for furthering NZ music. Thanks to Jack my group of performers of Piece of 4 could visit and perform in Wellington. Also the orchestral settings of poems by Michael Harlow Les Episodes was performed in the Sonic Circus of 1987 in Wellington. Here Jack not only found the soloists and an accompanist for them to rehearse with, he also organised the costumes that they wore. Jack was also the editor of Waitiata Press Music Editions in which several of my works have been published: Three Chance Pieces plus One, Snakes and Ladders, Piano Poems. The latter was superbly performed (through Jack’s organisation) by Daniel Poynten.

After we moved to Switzerland we met less often. One memorable time, in the early 90s, we met in Donaueschingen for the famous contemporary music festival and he stayed on afterwards for a few days with us in Eglisau. We did however keep in contact via email. One of his last was on 13th Oct. 2014 after he heard the NZSO “reading” of The Death of Maui:

Dear Kit, The recording session went very well and the orchestra is playing like a Rolls Royce. I am sure you will be very satisfied with the result. The soloist was exemplary. The producer was a little anxious about how to create the sense of distance for the soloist, at the required moment—more or a challenge in a recording than in live performance—since when he moved to the back he was swallowed by the orchestral sound. It might take some time for the editing to be completed, there were so many takes. It was a colourful, dramatic score. The dance of the fantail, with it’s triple beat, Dorothy thought referenced the haka, but my instinct was more for Firebird. Perhaps we were both right—or wrong…!? Congratulations and much love, Jack

In January 2014 after my note asking about his health he wrote:

Dear Kit, News travels fast! I am absolutely feeling fine, just a small dull ache in the left leg…. It’s a bugger. In myself I feel that I’m going to live for ever - I am so active and full of ideas, and convinced that this energy will sustain me for as long as I want - but the experts tell me otherwise. We’ll see who’s right! Love to you both, and thanks for the thoughtful message. Jack

Jack died on 10th May 2015 aged 70. We miss him sadly.

Jack and Kit