The CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop:
Inside the Incubator



year: 2009     a film made by: Chris Watson     audio post-production: Michael Parsons   
camera no.2: Natalie Hunt      workshop performance audio: James Dunlop


Since 1982, the Composers Association of New Zealand Nelson Composers Workshop has brought together emerging composers from across the country. Over four days, participating composers work with senior, tutor composers and top performers of new music to prepare works for performance in front of an audience of their peers. The Workshop is a crucial professional development opportunity for incipient New Zealand composers but is also thought to be largely responsible for the fostering and maintenance of collegiality in the New Zealand composition community.

In this, the first of many projected documentaries about New Zealand composers and their music under the moniker "dr watson docos", two young composers (Alex Hay and Alex Taylor) are followed through the processes of rehearsal, performance and group critique at the 2008 CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop. Some of the country's top composers, attending the Workshop as tutors, recount their experiences at the now 28 year old institution and the connections between the Nelson Workshop and its precursor, the Cambridge Summer Schools (1946-1984), are examined.

The film's premiere took place on 5 July 2009, on the opening night of the 28th CANZ Nelson Composers Workshop. Use the above window to watch the film via Vimeo, or contact Chris to order your copy on DVD (at a nominal cost).

Heartfelt thanks to the following people and organisations for helping to make this film possible:

Michael Parsons, Natalie Hunt and James Dunlop

Samuel Holloway, Mary Binney and CANZ

Alex Taylor, Alex Hay, James Gardner and Michael Norris

Gillian Whitehead, Jenny McLeod and SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music.