Close message
Skip to content

Daniel Beban named as Lilburn Research Fellow 2019

Daniel Beban named as Lilburn Research Fellow 2019

The Alexander Turnbull Library and the Lilburn Trust are delighted to announce that Daniel Beban has been awarded the prestigious Lilburn Research Fellowship for 2019.

Mr Beban will formally take up the Fellowship in January 2019, and will use it to further a study of the Braille Collective musicians in Wellington, who made up groups such as the Six Volts and the Primitive Art Group in the mid-1980s.

Mr Beban studied ethnomusicology and composition at Victoria University of Wellington, with improvised and experimental music being the focus of much of his subsequent research, writing and radio broadcasting work.

Alexander Turnbull Library curators Michael Brown, Barbara Lyon and Keith McEwing with Lilburn Research Fellow Daniel Beban
Alexander Turnbull Library curators (left to right), Michael Brown, Barbara Lyon and Keith McEwing with Lilburn Research Fellow Daniel Beban. Photo by Mark Beatty, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

Mr Beban says that he feels honoured to be awarded the 2019 Lilburn Research Fellowship. “This is a fantastic opportunity to produce a book about the Braille Collective and New Zealand improvised music from the late ‘70s onwards. It’s an important story in the history of New Zealand music, and as most of the musicians involved in this community have operated outside of institutions, it is a piece of history that has been largely overlooked. It is a great privilege that I am able to devote a substantial period of time to helping tell their story,” he says.

The Braille Collective embraced a self-publishing and DIY approach, releasing music on their own record label and creating much of their own promotional artwork. Its members have gone on to contribute significantly to New Zealand’s wider music scene and internationally.

The Alexander Turnbull Library’s Music Curator, Dr Michael Brown, says that the Lilburn Research Fellowship was established as a biennial award in 2012 to encourage scholarly research about New Zealand music.

“This is the only fellowship available in New Zealand that specifically supports New Zealand music research, and it means that Daniel will receive a $70,000 grant, an office at the National Library and access to our collections. It’s one of the most significant fellowships awarded by the National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa (NLNZ),” he says.

“One of the exciting aspects of Daniel’s research is that he will be delving deeply into the fantastic collections of the Archive of New Zealand Music”, Dr Brown says. “These include numerous live recordings of Braille Collective groups, and related material in the collections of composers Jonathan Besser and the late Jack Body.”

A selection of Braille Collective posters, preserved in the Alexander Turnbull Library
A selection of Braille Collective posters, preserved in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Photo by Mark Beatty, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

It is especially pleasing to be able to announce the recipient during May, New Zealand Music Month, Dr Brown says. “The Alexander Turnbull Library’s world-class collections help preserve New Zealand’s significant original music heritage, such as magnetic tapes and other original recordings, musical scores, photographs, and posters. The legacy of the Library’s generous donors is underlined by research such as Daniel’s.”

The Alexander Turnbull Library is always pleased to consider items for donation to the collection, and gifts or bequests. Gifts of money to the Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust or to the Friends of the Turnbull Library help to support the Turnbull Library's collections and their research use.

Media contact

Sandra Bennett — 027 839 1606

Daniel Beban – bio notes

Daniel Beban, the Alexander Turnbull Library’s Lilburn Research Fellow 2019, studied ethnomusicology and composition at Victoria University of Wellington, graduating with a Master of Arts (Musicology) in 2002.

Improvised and experimental music has been a special focus of his subsequent research and publications, and he has also produced many radio programmes exploring this topic, including for Radio New Zealand and Resonance FM (London). He is also a member of the well-known music group Orchestra of Spheres.

Daniel Beban, Lilburn Research Fellow 2019
Daniel Beban, Lilburn Research Fellow 2019. Photo by Mark Beatty, National Library of New Zealand Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa.

The Douglas Lilburn Research Fellowship and the Lilburn Trust

The biennial Lilburn Research Fellowship encourages scholarly research leading to publication on some aspect of New Zealand and music, using the resources of the Archive of New Zealand Music and the wider collections of the Alexander Turnbull Library.

The Fellowship is funded by the Lilburn Trust, which was established by Douglas Lilburn in 1984. It is administered as a charitable trust under the Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust. Previous recipients of the Douglas Lilburn Fellowship include:

  • Aleisha Ward (2017)
  • Chris Bourke (2015)
  • Philip Norman (2013)

The Douglas Lilburn Research Fellowship and the Lilburn Trust website

Douglas Lilburn (1915 – 2001)

Douglas Lilburn was an influential composer and music teacher who inspired and promoted later generations of New Zealand composers.

The Alexander Turnbull Library Archive of New Zealand Music (which Lilburn helped establish) continues to preserve New Zealand's musical heritage and The Lilburn Trust continues to fund music related projects and offer annual composition awards.

Douglas Lilburn website

Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand — Douglas Lilburn biography

The Braille Collective

The Braille Collective was a loose grouping of musicians in the 1980s who, as smaller musical groups, performed and recorded original experimental music. Groups included Primitive Art Group, Family Mallet, Four Volts, Six Volts, Jungle Suite, Hedgehog, 33% More, Our Name is Our Motto, and Black Sheep.

Members have gone on to become some of New Zealand’s most respected musicians. Janet Roddick, Steve Roche and David Donaldson are successful screen composers. David Watson has become a highly respected performer based in New York. David Long performed with The Muttonbirds during the 1990s and now composes for contemporary music ensembles, dance and film. Other members continue to perform and record regularly.

Published LP records, unreleased tape recordings, manuscripts and posters relating to the Braille Collective label are held in the National Library of New Zealand.

The Braille Collective