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2015 Professional Development Award recipients announced!

Published Tuesday 24 November 2015
Pictured from left to right; Mara TK, Sarah Ballard & Hamish Oliver

APRA New Zealand would like to congratulate the 2015 Professional Development Award recipients: Sarah Ballard (Classical), Mara TK (Pop Contemporary), Hamish Oliver (Film & Television).

Classical: Sarah Ballard

Based in Auckland, Sarah has already shown great prowess as a young composer. Sarah completed her Masters with first class Honours in 2013, was the NZSO-National Youth Orchestra’s Composer-in-Residence over the summer of 2013 and was asked to return for the mid-year season in 2014. She was the winner of the NZSO Todd Young Composer’s Award in 2012 and in that same year she was also awarded the 2012 Llewelyn Jones Piano Prize and the 2012 Douglas Lilburn Trust Award. Her works have been performed by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the Estrella Company, The Committee and the Avanti! Ensemble (Finland) amongst others.

“Sarah’s music is original and focused. She displays a clarity of vision and true dedication to her craft.”

Sarah has the opportunity to attend the Sävellyspaja composition workshop in Finland where she is one of only seven composers worldwide selected to write a new piece to be workshopped and performed by the formidable Avanti! Ensemble. Sarah has also been invited to attend the Musiikin Aika Festival in Viitasaari and attend seminars, tutorials, interviews and concerts while networking with some of the luminaires and visionaries of new classical music. Her PDA will go towards the costs involved with this amazing opportunity.

Film & Television: Hamish Oliver

Hamish’s varied career has seen him take on a number of diverse musical roles including composer & sound designer, musical director, lecturer, arranger and performer. He has worked and performed with artists such as Serj Tankian, Elaine Paige, Hayley Westenra, The Adults and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra. Hamish has also become a go-to collaborator for pop/rock groups performing with orchestras, working on projects with Julia Deans, Anika Moa, L.A. Mitchell and Jon Toogood.

Having previously composed work for TV, film, theatre and recently, video games, Hamish is planning to use his PDA to further his skills and knowledge in video game audio production. He’ll be travelling to America for the Game Developers Conference and then up to Canada for mentoring in game audio creation.

“Hamish has a great combination of commitment, technical skills and artistic vision, ideal for the gaming industry. He’s got huge potential in this field.”

Pop Contemporary: Mara TK

“Mara’s body of work continues to impress and inspire. His plans are ambitious and we are incredibly curious to hear what he creates.

Best known for his work as part of critically acclaimed group Electric Wire Hustle, whose last record ‘Love Can Prevail’ was nominated for the 2015 Taite Award and has just won Best Electronica Album at the 2015 Vodafone NZ Music Awards. Through extensive touring, Electric Wire Hustle have built up an international following and reputation for creating music with not only wide appeal but with a social conscience and message.

“Mara creates unapologetic and fiercely 'left of centre' pop music that genuinely deserves a wider audience - both here and around the globe. We want to enable him to keep taking bold strides and realise his music visions.”

Having previously recorded and performed with artists such as Kimbra, Mos Def, Tim Finn, Ria Hall and Fly My Pretties, Mara will use his PDA to travel to New York and collaborate with American based musicians, songwriters and producers.

The APRA Professional Development Awards (PDAs) are presented biennially to the shining lights of the New Zealand songwriting industry. Grants are awarded in three categories – Pop Contemporary, Film & Television, and Classical, with each recipient receiving $10,000 towards their professional development plan.

To determine the three recipients, all applications are assessed by an anonymous industry panel.

The calibre of applications this year were exceptional and the judges were inspired by the huge potential reflected they saw in them. The plans of this year’s recipients are an eclectic mix; songwriting and recording opportunities in New York; further study and mentoring in composing for computer games; and a classical composition workshop in Finland.

NZ Manager of Member Services, Victoria Kelly, says “The Professional Development Awards are always illuminating for us because the applications we receive from all around the country give us an incredible insight into the things our members are doing and planning. This year, we’re delighted that – from an abundance of talent – Sarah, Mara and Hamish are our Professional Development Award recipients. All three of these composers possess experience, ability, vision and dedication. They have unique and powerful creative voices and aspirations to match them. These awards will help them to travel, to study, collaborate and explore, and we’re thrilled to support them at crucial points in their careers. We can’t wait to hear what they do next and our heartiest congratulations go out to all of them!”