Biographies - 26.03.2023

Salina Fisher

Salina Fisher (b. 1993) Ōtautahi Christchurch-born composer Salina Fisher’s early career has brimmed with awards and commissions. Of New Zealand and Japanese heritage, her profile received a sizeable boost when she became the youngest composer to win the SOUNZ Contemporary Award: both in 2016 for Rainphase and in 2017 for Tōrino – echoes on pūtorino improvisations by Rob Thorne. A graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, she is currently a Teaching Fellow in Composition at the New Zealand School of Music.

Fisher often draws on her Japanese heritage and interest in the natural world in her music, and her website highlights her focus on the exploration of unusual timbres, extended tonalities, and a sensitivity to detail and gesture. She has also worked as a professional violinist, as well as performing on traditional Japanese instruments and taonga puoro.

She said in an interview for NZ Musician “I don’t really remember a life without being creative with sound,” and when talking about the experience of having musicians bring your composition off the page and into the world of sound: “there is this amazing connection when another human being is internalising your work and performing it.”

When asked how to approach the contemporary classical music landscape as a newcomer, she said “it’s about not having certain expectations of what music needs to do for you… [it’s about] allowing yourself to be completely open-minded about what sound can do or mean for you.”

Dream 6

For alto flute, clarinet, vibraphone, harp, and string quartet This work was written for Wellington-based ensemble Stroma’s “Nine Echoes” concert for Douglas Lilburn’s 100th birthday in 2015. Nine composers were commissioned to write works for Stroma each based on one of Lilburn’s Nine Short Pieces for piano, and these were performed alongside the original solo piano works from 1961, in a concert in Wellington on the day of his 100th birthday, co-presented by Stroma and SOUNZ as a “major tribute to one of New Zealand’s most important and influential composers.” Salina Fisher was commissioned alongside other New Zealanders Eve de Castro-Robinson, John Elmsly, Michael Norris, Dorothy Ker, Sarah Ballard, Louise Webster, Glen Downie, and Stephen Clothier.

Dream 6 is based on musical material from No. 6 of Lilburn's Nine Short Pieces: "In a dreamlike space where the harmonic language is retained, familiar fragments emerge in subtle new colours."