Gillian Whitehead

Dame Gillian Whitehead is a prolific composer whose steady stream of works include operas, orchestral works, choral pieces, vocal and instrumental chamber compositions, solo works, pieces involving taonga puoro and compositions including improvisation.

Fourteen years in Britain and Europe firmly established her international reputation, but in 1981 she returned to her Maori and southern hemisphere roots and began a 15-year teaching career at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music, taking extended periods of leave without pay to focus on composition. Among her important chamber music works are two quintets written for the New Zealand String Quartet and Taonga Puoro (Mčori instruments) specialist Richard Nunns. These works, Puhake ki te rangi (“spouting to the skies”) andHineputehue (“the woman of the sound of the gourd”) have been performed many times in New Zealand, Europe and North America.

Gillian Whitehead currently lives on the Otago Peninsula in Dunedin, devoting herself entirely to writing; she is acclaimed as one of the most important composers in Australasia.