Salina Fisher, Torino

Friday, 2 September 2016

Salina Fisher is one of the most remarkable young NZ composers. Chamber Music Contest Alumna, she will have her new piece, Tōrino, premiered by the New Zealand String Quartet during the QuintEssence Mini Festival in Wellington


EARLY START: She wrote her first piece at only 7 years old.  

STUDIES: Pettman Junior Academy of Music in Christchurch and composition and violin at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music in Wellington.

AWARDS: In 2013 and 2014 she won the NZSO/Todd Young Composer Award, and in 2015 was Composer-in-Residence with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra and also the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra ‘Rising Star’. As a performer, she was a member of three winning groups in the NZCT Chamber Music Contest playing the violin in 2007 and 2008, and piano in 2010. She is a casual violinist in the NZSO and was Concertmaster of the NZSO National Youth Orchestra in 2012-2013.


Tōrino  (CMNZ commission) echoes on pūtōrino improvisations by Rob Thorne



The piece is still top secret, but we asked Salina to reveal some of her thoughts behind the scenes. Here is what we found out:

"Discovering the music of Taonga Pūoro artist Rob Thorne has been the most deeply moving listening experience in my recent memory. I was mesmerized by the many powerful and haunting voices that Thorne could produce through one instrument in particular, the pūtōrino, and felt compelled to explore further and respond musically.

The pūtōrino is a purely Māori instrument, and is unique in that can function both as a ‘trumpet' and ‘flute'. This results in two distinct voices: the deeper, mournful kōkiri o te tane (male voice), and the eerie, more agile waiata o te hine (female voice). An elusive third voice can be achieved by blowing across the māngai (central opening). Thorne ventures further, finding a fourth ‘humming’ voice, as well as percussive sounds. The instrument’s shape is based on the New Zealand case moth cocoon and embodies Hine Raukatauri, the atua (goddess) of music.

It became especially apparent when I had the chance to improvise alongside Thorne on violin, that the pūtōrino shares many musical elements with string playing, particularly in terms of registers, likeness to the human voice, breathy timbres, and flexibility in pitch. Tōrino (meaning ‘spiral’) is my exploration of this, based on transcriptions of recordings of a pūtōrino that Thorne himself had a hand in making.

My sincerest thanks, Rob, for your incredible openness, generosity, knowledge, support, and guidance through this beginning of a very special journey.


Mā te rongo, ka mōhio

Mā te mōhio, ka mārama

Mā te mārama, ka mātau

Mā te mātau, ka ora.


Watch Rob Thorne 's Whaia Te Maramatanga : 


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