ATL100 Douglas Lilburn

November 2nd, 2020 By Michael Brown

The composer Douglas Lilburn (1915-2001) was one of the Alexander Turnbull Library’s major benefactors. As well as helping instigate the Archive of New Zealand Music and donating his personal collection, Lilburn established the Lilburn Trust, which supports New Zealand music with grants, awards, and other initiatives. During the ATL100 centenary period, we will be highlighting collaborations between the Turnbull Library and Lilburn Trust.


2020 Lilburn Lecture — writer and broadcaster Karyn Hay

On Monday 2 November, a full house of 180 people gathered in the National Library auditorium for writer and broadcaster Karyn Hay ONZM to deliver the 2020 Lilburn Lecture.

Karyn’s lecture was entitled ‘New Zealand Music: Living the Dream’ and looked at the reality of life in New Zealand for an artist in the music industry, focusing on the challenges for a generation of New Zealand musicians and songwriters.

A woman in a green dress stands behind a lectern delivering her speech while gently gesticulating with her hands.

Karyn Hay delivers the 2020 Lilburn Lecture.

After the talk there were performances in the Auditorium by New Zealand singer-songwriters Don McGlashan (Mutton Birds, Front Lawn) and Shayne Carter (Straitjacket Fits, Dimmer).

Hear a recording and read a transcript of Karyn Hay’s Lilburn Lecture courtesy of RNZ.

View more photographs of the Lilburn Lecture 2020 on the Library's Facebook page and also on the RNZ website.

A woman stands behind a lectern delivering her speech while the audience looks on from their seats.
Karyn Hay delivering the 2020 Lilburn Lecture before a full house in the National Library Auditorium Taiwhanga Kauhau.

The vote of thanks for Karyn Hay’s lecture was given by Roger Shepherd, founder of the record label Flying Nun Records.

The annual Lilburn Lecture has been held since 2013. Previous speakers have been Gillian Whitehead, Eve de Castro-Robinson, Charles Royal, Jenny McLeod, Chris Bourke, William Dart and Philip Norman.

See the Lilburn Trust website for links to recordings of all previous lectures.

Lilburn Research Fellowship 2021

On 25 June 2020, the Turnbull Library and the Lilburn Trust announced that Dr Anton Killin had been awarded the prestigious Lilburn Research Fellowship for 2021.

Dr Killin will formally take up the Fellowship in January 2021 to further his study of cross-cultural music composition in New Zealand relating to use of gamelan, a traditional ensemble music of Indonesia. Gamelan has been a significant cultural influence on New Zealand composers since it was introduced here in the 1970s. There are now ensembles based around the country. Composers who were subsequently inspired to write works for gamelan include David Farquhar, Jack Body, Gareth Farr, John Psathas, Helen Bowater, and Juliet Palmer.

Portrait of a man with long hair and beard wearing a jacket.
Dr Anton Killin had been awarded the prestigious Lilburn Research Fellowship for 2021.

Dr Killin studied music composition and philosophy at Victoria University of Wellington, with cross-cultural music being the focus of much of his research. Since being awarded his doctorate in 2017, he has held post-doctoral fellowships in Australia, USA, and Canada. His Lilburn Research Fellowship (LRF) project on gamelan in New Zealand will draw upon the rich collections in the Turnbull Library’s Archive of New Zealand Music. These include the manuscript scores of several eminent composers, and related material in the collections of Allan Thomas and Jack Body.

Lilburn Research Awards

News of the LRF appointment was followed by the 30 July 2020 announcement that Lilburn Research Awards have been granted to Mathew Hoyes and Michael Vinten.

The Lilburn Research Award is a new joint initiative of the Turnbull Library and the Lilburn Trust. It is an occasional award introduced alongside the biennial LRF to support other kinds of projects.

Mathew Hoyes, who teaches music at Porirua College, will receive a grant to further his project, “Counting the Beat”, which aims to support New Zealand high school students sitting NCEA. “There is currently a lack of online resources about New Zealand music, especially when it comes to musical analysis,” Mr Hoyes says. His research will include examining scores and recordings of popular New Zealand songs, and an investigation of their historical context. The result will be a series of online videos and other resources.

Michael Vinten, conductor and composer, has been granted a Lilburn Research Award to research and edit a collection of pre-1950 New Zealand Art Songs. “It concerns me that we know so little about our classical musical heritage pre-1950”, Mr Vinten says. His research seeks to uncover worthy material in the Archive of New Zealand Music and other Library music collections. The outcome will be a printed album of songs for voice and piano with an accompanying CD.

Mr Hoyes and Mr Vinten will commence work on their projects in September 2020.


2019 Lilburn Lecture — composer Dame Gillian Karawe Whitehead (Ngāi te Rangi)

On Friday 1 November, a full house of 180 people gathered in the National Library auditorium for composer Dame Gillian Karawe Whitehead (Ngāi te Rangi) to deliver the 2019 Lilburn Lecture.

Dame Gillian’s lecture was entitled ‘Breath of the Birds: The Revival of Taonga Puoro’ and covered the recent revival of traditional Māori instruments involving Hirini Melbourne, Richard Nunns, Brian Flintoff and others, and how she has incorporated the taonga into her music.

Dame Gillian Whitehead standing at a lecturn after delivering her lecture.
Dame Gillian Whitehead in the National Library auditorium Taiwhanga Kauhau. Photo: Mark Beatty.

The talk was followed by a performance of her 1999 composition Hineraukatauri, played by NZSO principal flautist Bridget Douglas and taonga puoro exponent Alistair Fraser.

"When I first started working with Richard”, Whitehead recalled, “people would often ask how I felt about writing music that would have a short life, as, particularly after Hirini’s death, we weren’t sure whether the revival would continue or diminish and disappear. I wasn’t that fazed. To have even once the possibility and privilege of writing for these new sounds that connected to my heritage was enough… Twenty years on, there are a number of highly skilled players - Horomona Horo, Alistair Fraser, Rob Thorne, James Webster, Ariana Tikao, to name a few - with their individual backgrounds, sets of instruments and playing techniques, who work across a variety of genres, and perform nationally and abroad. And a growing number of composers who are working together with them, discovering new ways to work together. It’s very exciting.”

Hear a recording and read a transcript of Gillian Whitehead’s Lilburn Lecture courtesy of RNZ Concert

Read ATL Endowment Trust deputy chair Suzanne Snively’s speech about the work of the Trust, which was part of the Lilburn Lecture introduction

View more photographs of the Lilburn Lecture 2019 (and also on the RNZ website here)

View from the back of the auditorium showing a full house.
Dame Gillian Whitehead delivering her lecture to a packed National Library auditorium. Photo: Mark Beatty.

The vote of thanks for Gillian Whitehead’s lecture was given by Toni Huata, Kaihautū Puoro Māori (Director of Māori Music) at SOUNZ.

John and Jan sitting at desk together.
John Meads (Chair, Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust) and Jan Hellriegel (Songbroker) with some of Douglas Lilburn’s published writings. Photo: Michael Brown.

Songbroker: Protecting Douglas Lilburn’s musical legacy

The Alexander Turnbull Library Endowment Trust holds the copyright in the music of Douglas Lilburn’s music, with proceeds going to the Lilburn Trust to further the growth and development of New Zealand music. In April 2019, the Endowment Trust appointed Songbroker Music Publishing to represent the music of Douglas Lilburn. Owned and managed by Jan Hellriegel, herself a singer-songwriter, Songbroker has extensive experience in the area of copyright licensing and administration.

Lorde on the PowerPoint during Eve de Castro-Robinson's 2018 Lilburn Lecture.
Eve de Castro-Robinson referencing Lorde during her 2018 Lilburn Lecture. Photo by Mark Beatty, Alexander Turnbull Library

Wide blows our banner – Lilburn Lecture 2018

On 2 November, Douglas Lilburn’s birthday, 130 people gathered in the National Library’s brand new auditorium to hear acclaimed composer Eve de Castro-Robinson deliver the 2018 Lilburn Lecture. Her talk, entitled ‘Wide Blows Our Banner: How far have women composers in New Zealand come since Suffrage?’, drew on musical examples from Willow Macky, Victoria Kelly, Lorde, and de Castro-Robinson herself, as she reflected on her journey as a composer since the 1980s.

“Is this whiff of old boys' network, toxic masculinity before its time? Is it still around?”, de Castro-Robinson asked. “Yes it sure is, certainly in business, in politics, definitely in the law, and in institutions - universities oh yes, but, much less so I think in composerly circles themselves. We tend to stick together, and support each other, knowing that we're all in the same position. We're competitive of course, it's a creatively perilous business, and we're up for the same commissions and jobs from the same musicians and organisations. It's a tough living, and we all know it. But is it tougher for women composers?”

Hear a recording and read a transcript of Eve de Castro-Robinson’s Lilburn Lecture courtesy of RNZ Concert

Eve de Castro-Robinson delivering the 2018 Lilburn Lecture.
Eve de Castro-Robinson delivering the 2018 Lilburn Lecture. Photo by Mark Beatty, Alexander Turnbull Library

The vote of thanks for Eve de Castro-Robinson’s lecture was given by Diana Marsh, executive director of SOUNZ. Read the text of her speech here.

3 Lilburn Research Fellow
Alexander Turnbull Library curators (left to right), Michael Brown, Barbara Lyon and Keith McEwing with Lilburn Research Fellow Daniel Beban. Photo by Mark Beatty, Alexander Turnbull Library

Lilburn Research Fellow 2019

On 17 May 2018, the Turnbull Library and the Lilburn Trust announced that Daniel Beban had been awarded the prestigious Lilburn Research Fellowship for 2019. Mr Beban formally takes up the Fellowship in late 2018, using it to further his study of the Braille Collective musicians in Wellington. They were a loose grouping of musicians who performed and recorded original and improvised experimental music in the 1980s. Members formed various musical ensembles, including the Primitive Art Group, Six Volts, and Family Mallet, among many others.

A selection of Braille Collective posters, preserved in the Alexander Turnbull Library.
A selection of Braille Collective posters, held in the Alexander Turnbull Library. Photo by Mark Beatty, Alexander Turnbull Library

Listen online to a set of live recordings from the 1980s by Braille Collective groups Our Name is Our Motto, Jungle Suite and the Flaming Anvil Brothers.

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. His research on the Braille Collective musicians will draw on the Turnbull Library’s extensive collection of their work, contained in the Archive of New Zealand Music. This includes their LP releases, numerous live recordings, posters and other ephemera.

The Lilburn Research Fellowship has been offered on a biennial basis since 2013. See this page for a list of previous recipients.


More about Douglas Lilburn and The Turnbull Library

Alexander Turnbull Library blogs about Douglas Lilburn: ‘Centennial Offerings’ and ‘Happy Birthday Douglas!’

Detailed information about the composer and the Lilburn Trust: www.douglaslilburn.org

Te Ara Encyclopedia entry on Douglas Lilburn

‘A Matter of Trust’: Roger Flury’s article from the Turnbull Library Record (2015) about the Lilburn Trust’s recent history

Photo by Chris Black of Douglas Lilburn
Photo by Chris Black of Douglas Lilburn (1960s). Ref: PAColl-7737-3-01

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