Waikato string quartet music goes global

16 May 2017

Polaris Quartet of Shanghai
Associate Professor Martin Lodge with the Polaris Quartet of Shanghai.

University of Waikato Conservatorium of Music composer Associate Professor Martin Lodge has been working with the Polaris Quartet of Shanghai on a new music project.

In April they spent a week in the recording studio laying down five new works composed especially for the quartet. Linked by the theme of ‘flow’, the music was written by five composers based in New Zealand, China, USA and the UK.

Dr Lodge says the aim of the project was to think beyond the usual channels and to link local composers with the widest range of international contemporary string quartet music.

“I was able to persuade three of the biggest names in contemporary classical composition to write for the project – Jia Daqun from China, who also provided the specific link to Shanghai, Param Vir who is Indian but now lives in London, and multiple Grammy award-winning American composer Michael Daugherty from Michigan,” says Dr Lodge.

Dr Lodge, as the executive producer, joined these artists along with fellow Waikato composer Michael Williams.

“Thanks to assistance from local contacts in China, it was possible to book a superbly equipped recording studio in the futuristic Shanghai Broadcasting Mansion building for the recording sessions,” he says.

Overseeing the recording process was owner and head producer of Atoll Records, Wayne Laird. He was assisted by a Shanghai-based recording engineer. University of Waikato music student Xu Tang also took part as a practical element of his composition PhD study and provided valuable cultural and translating assistance.

“Recording a different work every day for a week was a tough ask for the performers, but the Polaris Quartet responded with great professionalism and commitment to deliver excellent results. Three of the featured composers were able to be present for the recording of their works, so the final CD will have a special authority,” says Dr Lodge.

The recording is due for release in September on the Atoll label, with global online dissemination through the Naxos Music Library.

“From an experience that sprang its fair share of surprises and challenges, one unsurprising but very pleasing thing was Wayne Laird’s professional view that the New Zealand compositions easily matched the calibre of those from the USA, India, UK and China,” says Dr Lodge.

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