Composer visiting Queenstown to write music, give talk


An avant-garde music scholar visiting Queenstown has two other quirky strings to his bow.

Mozart Fellowship scholar Jeremy Mayall is also a world food-eating champion and co-founder of the New Zealand Beard & Moustache Appreciation Association.

Mayall chuckles a little about his food-eating and facial hair exploits, but is deadly serious about music.

His one-year Otago University Mozart fellowship is “one of the most highly-contested composer-in-residence positions in NZ,” Mayall says.

“I just get to spend my time being creative and writing music.”

Mayall intends to write a work reflecting his first visit to the Wakatipu beginning tomorrow.

“As part of my work with the Mozart,” he says.

“I’m into writing music inspired by landscape and things – so I’ve been doing bits and pieces like that.”

Mayall records a lot of natural sounds: “Birds, water, anything that’s really interesting, and I’ll piece it together with musical instruments.”

The 30-year-old from Hamilton has established avant-garde credibility on the country’s high-brow music scene. After writing his first symphony aged 20, Mayall has since been a featured performer with the Auckland Philharmonia and the NZ Symphony Orchestra.

His Symphony No.1 is claimed to be the first orchestral symphony featuring modern hip-hop ‘turn-tablism’.

Mayall also works as a performer, mostly specialising in “live electronic sound manipulation and synthesisers”.

The visiting maestro will do workshops at Wakatipu schools during Monday, followed the same night by a 90-minute presentation at Queenstown Resort College labelled ‘Sight and Sound: Exploring Multi-Media Music’.

Mayall’s evening gig begins at 7.30pm – $10 for adults, students free.

His gig is courtesy of the Catalyst Trust, a new community group whose stated aim is to put on provocative and out-of-the-ordinary events – which segues neatly into Mayall’s food-eating and beard-growing escapades.

“I think I still hold the world record for the fastest time to drink two litres of chocolate milk,” he says, chuckling.

Your time?

“Two minutes,” he says.

And the beard/moustache appreciation group?

“It’s more of an online thing,” Mayall says, starting in 2010 with two members and, err, growing to about 100 now.