Tag Archives: Zomburlesque

Zomburlesque reviews coming in.

16 Mar

Taking a narcissistic point of view, which is the more quotable review quote in the long run?

Jonathan W. Marshall on Zomburlesque for Theatreview:

A special non-zombie, non-burlesque treat is when Ellis, showing a musical and comic virtuosity which would not be out of place in the old Cotton Club’s own stage shows, effectively plays both the trumpet and the trombone at once, calling on the cast beside him to hold one instrument as he reaches to grab the next and immediately continue the same musical phrase on a new instrument.

From the same review::

…apparently heterosexual…

The second one is just a bit punchier, a bit more concise… brevity is, after all, a virtue.

With my lovely assistants, Jepha Krieg aka The Purple Rose aka Georgie; and Hans Landon-Lane aka Clever Hansel aka The Right Reverend Dr Aloysius Splitfoot. Photo taken last night by Deano Shirriffs.

(More photos on Facebook.)

Zombie “facts”

12 Mar

Produced for Zomburlesque, 15-17 March, 9pm, Sammy’s, Dunedin.

Dunedin Zombie "Facts"
(click for full size)

Infested with Fringe

16 Feb

(This is yet another rush blog post written at Dunedin Airport just before boarding a flight. I have a history of these…)

Sapphire LaNeige, zombie Abby Pigden, Eden Honeypot & Frisky Business. The three burlesque girls are performing in Zomburlesue, 15-17 March.

Tonight the Dunedin Fringe Festival programme was released, along with zombies. There was a big box in the middle of the room, and at the moment of release, zombies broke out, shuffling among the crowd, wielding programme books. It was awesome.

I’ve always felt at home in fringe festivals. I did the Wellington Fringe for many years (generally no fewer than 3 shows per fest), although regrettably I’m not at all involved this year since I’ve moved to Dunedin.

However, Dunedin has a Fringe too, which is running from 15 to 25 March. I’ve wasted no time getting involved, and I’m in two shows that you should totally check out.

Zomburlesque. Somehow this is coming together, with over two dozen performers from both Wellington and Dunedin. Just today I finished arranging all the music for the band (I’m so stoked with who I have: aside from me on horns, there’s Emma Wollum on accordion, composer wunderkind Corwin Newall on keys, and Michelle & Maddy from Hunting Bears on bass & drums). Three-sixths of the Capping Show Sexytet make up a trio of backing vocalists, and there are also some local Dunedin burlesque performers taking part. Some were at the programme release – see them on the right.

Thu 15, Fri 16, Wed 17 March – 9pm – Sammy’s – $30/$20 – Ticket bookingsFringe Fest detailsFacebook event here

Song Sale. The first ever Song Sale in Dunedin took place on Monday just gone, and we had a great-sized crowd in The Church and wrote some fun songs. I have out-of-town guests during Fringe – many Wellington Zomburlesque performers, comedian Sam Smith, and just last night I confirmed the multi-instrumentalist awesomeman Adam Page for the Wednesday show. We promise a great time and it’s free entry.

Mon 19, Wed 21 March – 7:30pm – The Church, Restaurant Bar & Cinema – Free! ($5 to commission a song) – Fringe Fest detailsFacebook page here

Signing off so I can board the plane.

Faux-zart Mellowship

5 Feb

Previous Fellow Chris Adams put my name on the door. Ah, bless.

On 1 February 2012 I began my time/term/tenure as Mozart Fellow at the University of Otago.

I ran the numbers a while back looking at the list of all previous Mozart Fellows – at 27 years, 1 month and 19 days, I am the second youngest to take up the position. That’s cool.

Rather awesomely, I get my own office. In contrast to Radio New Zealand House in Wellington, you can actually open the windows and have contact with fresh, outside air. In fact, there are eight such openable windows. Rest assured, I can close them when it gets cold in winter.

My swipe card doesn’t seem to work yet… slightly concerning. That could require repeated phone calls. I hope not.

So what am I going to work on? Gigs and pieces!

Song Sale Dunedin - February 2012 posterGigs:

Song Sale. Monthly gigs where a collection of songwriter-performers is on call to compose brand new songs, commissioned by audience members on their chosen themes/topics/genres etc. First gig is Monday 13 February 2012 at The Church, 50 Dundas St. Tomorrow night, we Song Salers have a meeting/test session.

Zomburlesque. We did the show in Wellington, the Dunedin Fringe saw the review, they offered assistance in doing another production, and it’s happening. The core crew and performers are coming from Wellington; I’m co-ordinating the venue, the tech and the band in Dunedin. The first season was one of the most fun shows I’ve ever done; I anticipate the Dunedin season being the same.


– Reworking the 3rd movement of Three Sibilants for Eb clarinet for violin and beatbox. The violinist is Sarah Claman, the beatboxer is me. This will be performed at a Chamber Vulgarus gig in early March. You can hear the movement from 7:42 in the below SoundCloud embed:

Three Sibilants for Eb clarinet by Robbie Ellis on SoundCloud.

– A 4-5 minuter for the St Peter’s & St Mary’s Sinfonia, the senior orchestra of two Auckland Catholic high schools combined. Their conductor Antun Poljanich arranged to commission me. It’s going to be a bit of a percussion feature – I get three percussionists plus a timps player and a pianist. This’ll be in their 2012 repertoire, including at ASSBOF. (KBB Music has had naming rights on the event since 2002, but old high school habits die hard.)

– Something super secret squirrel which I will blog about in more detail later on.

– Something for Saxcess, New Zealand’s oldest saxophone quartet. Debbie Rawson has been great at getting my name out there as a composer, so I wanted to use the Fellowship to write something for her. Saxcess is doing a tour for their 20th anniversary, under Chamber Music New Zealand’s Encompass series. They’re hitting a motley collection of towns in June & July, including Cromwell (the closest to Dunedin).

– Something for the Estrella Quartet – four players, eight hands, two pianos. They’re all students at the University of Auckland under the tutelage of Stephen De Pledge, who contacted me about a piece. They won the 2011 Royal Overseas League Chamber Music Scholarship, which means they go to the UK in July/August to see a bunch of concerts, play a bunch of gigs (including at the Edinburgh Fringe). I’m thinking of calling my piece The Piano Tuner’s Performance Appraisal.

– A new piece for Auckland Youth Orchestra, an ensemble I played double bass in from 2003 to 2005. I’m currently reading Musicophilia by Oliver Sacks (my neighbour is a Masters student in Psychology and she regards Sacks’ writing as pop psych, but at least I can understand it). There’s a story about what sounds Robert Schumann was hallucinating near the end of his life… there could be something in that. This is for their September & October tour, with rehearsals beginning in early August.


21 Oct

I’m sitting in Dunedin Airport waiting for the 1710 to Auckland. Time for a quick blog update…

Early yesterday morning I flew from Wellington (current home) to Dunedin (next year’s home). This is my first time in Dunedin as an adult – growing up in Auckland, the only time our family made it this far south was on The Big South Island Trip one summer. (In the words of my mother: “You’re growing up in Auckland and you won’t be a real Kiwi unless you’ve seen the South Island!”)

Picking up a rental car at the airport, my first stop was Black/Sale House, HQ of the University of Otago Department of Music. I had a good chat with Dr Anthony Ritchie, the only Otago staff member I really knew prior to my appointment as 2012 Mozart Fellow. We talked about plans for the Fellowship – I’ll do a little bit of teaching, some tutoring, and some supervision of undergraduate work. All promising.

At a morning tea I met the Department staff – the academics and the admin. I also said hello to Chris Adams, the current Mozart Fellow.

Then the flat-hunt began. I’d set up 10 viewings for between midday at 6:30pm yesterday. Two were promising, and as it happens I got one of them – a nice little cosy 1-bedroom on the sunny slopes of North East Valley (it’s practically Opoho).

On a bit of a stroll around town, I popped into Twang Town on Moray Pl, a music shop specialising in string instruments. The independent owner-operator style reminded me of Alistair’s Music on Cuba St – I’ll happily take my guitar or bass there once I move. The proprietor, Hyram Ballard, is a good dude and recommended “the best coffee in Dunedin” at Mazagran across the road. It was pretty damn good coffee.

On the venues front, I popped my head into the Fortune Theatre; saw a student recital at Marama Hall on campus; had dinner and saw an amazing Celtic chamber ensemble at The Church (where this performance of my piece Ha! took place); and took a tour around Sammy’s with the owner, Sam Chin. It’s a grand old proscenium arch theatre which has variously been a brewery warehouse, a nightclub, and a big music gig venue. We’re in talks about bringing a show there for the Dunedin Fringe Festival… can’t say much more than that now but it looks exciting.

First boarding call for my flight so I’ll sign off now.

The weekend

2 Oct

So it’s the weekend – the time between two runs of shows, and the time in which I can do a load of washing.

Last night was the close of The First Asian A* B* – it was a reasonably successful season, considering that shows from Auckland seldom get the same audience numbers as Wellington shows. There’s just not the same degree off on-the-ground promotion.

Tonight is the opening of Zomburlesque. Out of the band of six players, I’m the only one not to have seen any rehearsal of the action yet. But I’ve received descriptions from those who have… I reckon it’ll be epic.

I don’t have any proper training as a brass player, so today – with a rehearsal and soundcheck as well as a show – I’ll be saving my chops. Band-leader Hans Landon-Lane will be saving his voice too.

Aside from that I’ve been enjoying The Engine Room and Public Service Announcements, our BATS-mates (is that a word?). I ended up reviewing The Engine Room for Theatreview, and I feel it raises a bunch of questions. One is whether it’s okay to be apathetic about important political issues, or whether anyone should have the right to not get involved, regardless of how heated and intense the circumstances become. Furthermore, at what point does apathy and non-involvement become the best option; the most peaceful option? You can consider those questions yourself by catching The Engine Room at BATS. It runs until Saturday 8 October.

Moving away from Wellington (literally), I’ve been keeping track of the Dunedin rental property market. My frame of reference is the rectangle of Google Maps, but I feel like I’ve got a basic understanding of the city centre, the university area and the close-in suburbs. My Trade Me watchlist is well-stocked, and in a week or two I’ll start making appointments to see properties to rent. I’ll be down in Dunedin from 19 to 21 October, although I’ll only have really one and a half days to look at places. Pack the time in then!

Southern preparations

14 Sep

Things to do in Dunedin:

  • Call the uni Accommodation Office about accommodation
  • Call the Music Department about an office
  • Find somewhere to play indoor football. (I grazed two knees and one elbow on astroturf today, but I pulled off some wicked saves as goalie, so it was worth it.)
  • Once I’ve moved there, get a crash course in how to set up a line from Radio New Zealand’s Dunedin studios.

Also, I might even prepare something for the 2012 Dunedin Fringe Festival. I’m in talks.

I’ve got to speak to some people about ideas for projects – a couple of playwrights in particular who could be useful collaborators for that music theatre piece I’m so desperate to create. I am in Auckland this weekend so speakings will be spoken. There are also a few application deadlines in the next couple of months which I can’t forget about.

In the meantime, today I got interviewed on Upbeat, a radio programme I have presented, produced, assistant-produced and supplied content for in the past. For associated music, violinist Sarah Claman (Otago Uni Honours student) performed Ha! earlier this year – so far, the only work of mine to have been performed in Dunedin. Webops kept the music in the podcast (with everyone’s permission, mind). Listen below:

Welcome to pressWord construction under still

6 Sep

It was about time for me to upgrade my website – a single HTML page was always just a bit manky. This’ll look a bit transitional for a while as I figure out how to properly customise WordPress, which I’ve never used before.

In the meantime, I’ve got a lot of fun things coming up in the next couple of months, mostly in Wellington but not exclusively:

  • Works with Words – this event at the Auckland Writers & Readers Festival was recorded by Radio New Zealand Concert. Six works by New Zealand composers, including The Lover’s Knot, text by Renee Liang and music by me. Actor Stuart Devenie, the Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra and conductor Kenneth Young. (Radio New Zealand Concert, Tue 20 September, 9pm.)
  • Paul Fagamalo & Benjamin Teh in The First Asian A* B*

    Paul Fagamalo & Benjamin Teh in The First Asian A* B* (13-18 Sept Auckland; 22 Sept-1 Oct Wellington)

    The First Asian A* B* by Renee Liang – it’s a two-hander play which, for trademark reasons, is not called The First Asian All Black. There’s a season in Auckland first (Basement, 13-18 September) and Andrew Corrêa is doing the live music there. I go up to Auckland for the last two shows to see how he does it, then I’ll be taking over his duties for the Wellington season (BATS Theatre, 22 September to 1 October, 6pm).

  • Zomburlesque – I’ll be doin’ some old-time rag-time out-of-time trombone playing as part of Right Reverend Dr Splitfoot’s Goodtime Brimstone Band. If you didn’t pick it up, the title is a portmanteau of zombies and burlesque. (Bodega, 2, 3, 5 & 6 October, 8:30pm.)
  • The 2011 New Zealand Improv Festival – it’s back at BATS! The programme will be released shortly. (11-15 October.)
  • Austen Found: Zombie Time. I go up to Auckland to perform at the brand new Q Theatre with Instant Kiwis – they’re a group of performers who’ll be doing late-night improv every Friday night at Q. This’ll be my 78th improvised musical, a bit of a mashup along the lines of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies. (Fri 21 October, 9pm.)

Now, back to finding a decent events listing for WordPress…

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