The Passing of a Black Star

The Passing of a Black Star

New Zealand Guitar Quartet

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The Passing of a Black Star 
New Zealand Guitar Quartet 

Owen Moriarty
Jane Curry
Christopher Hill
John Couch

Produced by NZGQ, Peter Leask, Craig Utting, and Cameron Sloan
Recorded by Steve Garden in the Adam Concert Room of the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, December 4–7, 2016
Post-production by John Couch, Owen Moriarty, and Steve Garden
Design by UnkleFranc
Printing by Studio Q

This project was made possible with support from the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington


Thanks to Victoria University for funding this project, for providing crucial support for New Zealand musicians and composers, and for creating a platform for this music to reach the general public. Thanks also to Steve Garden for his expert engineering and production work, and to Carolyn van Hoeve for her stunning and stylish design work.


Special thanks to the commissioned composers, without whom this project would not exist, and to producers Peter, Craig, and Cameron for listening, and then listening again to make sure things were on track. Special appreciation and thanks to Christine Moriarty for hosting quartet members during rehearsals and recording sessions.


RAT-D071 (June, 2017)





The Passing of a Black Star 

      Bruce Paine
      AOTEAROA SUITE   (9:45)

01  Fanfare   (1:16)
02  Chaconne   (1:33)
03  March   (2:49)
04  Lullaby   (1:47)
05  Fugue   (1:18)
06  March reprise   (1:04)

      Isaac Albéniz
      SPANISH RHAPSODY, Op.70 (12:09) arr. Owen Moriarty

07  Allegretto   (2:57)
08  Petenera   (2:37)
09  Jota   (1:30)
10  Malaguena   (3:47)
11  Estudiantina  (1:19)

      Marián Budoš
      Johann Sebastian Bach
      BRANDENBURG CONCERTO No.3 (11:10) arr. Owen Moriarty

13  Mvt. I. Allegro   (5:39)
14  Mvt. II. Adagio  (0:28)
15  Mvt. III. Allegro assai   (5:02)

      Craig Utting
      ONSLOW SUITE (9:45) arr. Owen Moriarty

16  Mvt. I. Molto Allegro   (3:03)
17  Mvt. II. Passacaglia   (3:44) 
18  Mvt. III. Con brio   (2:47)


      Total playing time: 52:57





Owen Moriarty


After completing his Master’s degree in 2003, Owen studied under Scott Tennant and Bill Kanengiser (members of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet) at the University of Southern California. An engaging and versatile performer, he has had numerous works written for him by prestigious composers such as Ian Krouse, Marek Pasieczny, Anthony Ritchie, and John Rimmer. He has performed with major orchestras including a recent recording with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra on the award-winning album Songs of Death and Desire by Jack Body (ACD414).
Owen has toured extensively throughout New Zealand, completing seven tours for Chamber Music NZ, and has also performed in Australia, USA, Portugal, Mexico, China, Spain, Thailand, and the UK. He is the resident arranger for NZGQ, and has contributed to six albums in both solo and ensemble settings.

Jane Curry


Born in the UK, Jane completed her Doctorate at the University of Arizona with Prof. Thomas Patterson. During her time in the USA she also studied with Scott Tennant, David Russell, and Sergio & Odair Assad. She is now Senior Lecturer and Head of Guitar at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington. An award-winning guitarist, Jane is in high demand as a soloist, chamber musician, and teacher. She coordinates the largest classical guitar programme in NZ, and is a member of several chamber music ensembles..
Jane's recording projects include collaborations with Orkiestra Ars Longa (Krakow Music Academy, Poland) Vivaldi Concerti with Archi d’Amore Zealanda (guitar, viola d’amore, and cello), and she has performed with the Nelson Symphony Orchestra, Aorangi Symphony, Kapiti Concert Orchestra, NZSO, and the Capital Concert Orchestra in Canberra, Australia.

Christopher Hill


Raised in the Hawkes Bay, Christopher completed an honours degree in classical guitar at Victoria University under Bill Bower before studying flamenco guitar in Spain. He performed extensively in Italy and Portugal before returning to NZ to tour with the Wellington Guitar Duo for Chamber Music New Zealand. In recent years he has performed with a number of contemporary ensembles, including the New Zealand String Quartet, NZSO, and Eternity Opera. Chris is a creative composer with a keen interest in new music, a talented classical and flamenco guitarist, and a versatile all-round studio musician.

John Couch


John is the Director of the Taranaki Classical Guitar Summer School, New Zealand’s premiere classical guitar festival. He holds a Master’s of Music in Performance and Research (pedagogy), a Post-Graduate Diploma in Performance and Research, a Bachelor of Music, and is a Fellow of the Trinity Guildhall (London). He has performed as a soloist and chamber musician throughout NZ, Australia, UK, Europe, Asia, and North America, and has released four albums: A Fairy Tale … with Variations (2001), Desdemona’s Song (2005), Andres New Shoes (2008), and Ask Me Tomorrow (2015).
John’s interest in creating new music for the classical guitar has led him to commission and premier works by leading composers such as Richard Charlton, Vincent Lindsey-Clark, Bruce Paine, Marian Budos, Sally Greenaway, Christopher Norton, Jesmond Grixti, Campbell Ross, and Ivana Troslj.



Aotearoa Suite (2016)


Written for NZGQ, Aotearoa Suite is an exploration of the quartet medium, in which the composer plays with the balance and range within the ensemble as he progresses through the various textures and dances. He says of the work, “I wanted it to be based on New Zealand themes and reflect our national identity, and by doing so create a tribute of sorts to music-making in Aotearoa. The first section, Fanfare, presents a 'melting pot' of melodic fragments vying for attention, evolving and eventually settling into the slightly jazzy ‘Basso Ostinato’ section, which conjures images of a night-time, inner-city jaunt. The March is reminiscent of community folk music. The concept of Lullaby is universal, whereas Fugue is about church music and organ recitals.”

Bruce Paine (b.1963) began his career as a concert guitarist. His interest in composition grew out of an appreciation for the work of contemporary guitar composers, most notably the virtuoso Štěpán Rak of the Czech Republic. In 2007 he set about writing his first guitar compositions, which included Finchdean, a piece now popular with student and professional players alike. His compositions to date have been inspired by themes as diverse as the New Zealand landscape, underwater sea life, songs of Gallipoli, and kinetic art sculptures.


Spanish Rhapsody Op.70 (1860-1909, arr. Owen Moriarty)


Perhaps best known as an arrangement for piano and orchestra, this work suffers from a distinct lack of factual information relating to its origin. It appears to have begun as a work for solo piano and then arranged (likely by Albeniz) for two pianos – Owen’s arrangement was derived from the latter version. Structurally it resembles the pattern developed by Liszt in his Hungarian Rhapsodies, a single movement in which a slow introduction is succeeded by several quicker dance episodes, based, in this case, on popular Spanish tunes of the day.


The Passing of a Black Star (2016)


The Passing of a Black Star is a tribute to David Bowie. Like many Bowie fans, I was shocked and saddened by his passing. The inspiration for this piece was Bowie’s final album Blackstar, and the work encapsulates my emotions following his departure. There are direct musical quotations from the title song, "Blackstar", and "I Can’t Give Everything Away". There is also a hidden reference to the song “Lazarus” in the musicians’ parts and score. The duration of the score deliberately corresponds with the length of Bowie’s "Blackstar". At 9:58, the last heartbeat of David Bowie (played by the third guitar) fades away. The piece is a homage to the eclectic qualities of Bowie’s final masterpiece, in which pop, rock, and jazz are interwoven with classic music techniques. Other details about the piece are listed in the notes that preface the score, but I will let the music speak for itself.”
Marián Budoš

Marián Budoš (b.1968) fell in love with the guitar at around the age of ten when he first found one in his grandparents’ attic. That moment transformed his life. Almost forty years later the guitar is still his favourite instrument to play and write for, in fact he has written guitar into almost every one of his scores. Marián plays in his own quartet in Canberra, Australia, the city where he currently lives and works. He wrote The Passing of a Black Star specifically for NZGQ.


Brandenburg Concerto No.3 (1685-1750, arr. Owen Moriarty)


Dedicated to the Mulgrave Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg, this concerto was originally written for string orchestra. Making full use of the Concerto Grosso genre, the relationship between the instruments is subjective to the listener: as the texture of the music moves between parts, it may appear that there are no soloists, or that all the players are soloists. In doing so Bach creates a weaving, kaleidoscopic range of musical colour and shade.


Onslow Suite (1993, arr. Owen Moriarty)
Commissioned by Karen Carter for three pianists at Onslow College


“This piece (excellently arranged for guitar quartet by Owen Moriarty) was originally conceived for three pianos. In the first movement (which was described by one pianist as ‘breaking glass!’), a short tune is shared between the players, while the slower central section is a rhapsodic solo with an exciting ending. The second movement begins as a sadly beautiful melody over a passacaglia, framing a stormy central section before returning to a melancholy ending. The last movement is based on a piece I wrote as a student at Onslow College. The tune moves around, sometimes in canon, and has an exciting conclusion.”
Craig Utting

Composer, arranger, music typesetter, viola player, pianist, and music educator, Craig Utting (b.1965) studied composition at Auckland University with Douglas Mews, John Rimmer, and John Elmsly, and completed a Master of Music degree with 1st class Honours in 1987. In 1988-9 he was a violist in the Schola Musica of the NZSO, and since then has been a member of the Wellington Sinfonia. Craig and his wife Elizabeth Sneyd run the Virtuoso Strings Charitable Trust, through which they give free violin and cello lessons and coordinate three orchestras.







Rattle Records describes this new release as a tribute to Richard Nunns, whose taonga puoro have graced the music of composers and artists from Hirini Melbourne and Gillian Whitehead to Moana and her Moahunters.


A waltz


Michael Houstoun, May 2017







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