Chris Gendall

Chris Gendall’s  works have graced the programmes of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, NZTrio, Mark Menzies and the Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, Saar Berger, and the New Zealand String Quartet. He studied composition at Victoria University of Wellington before completing a doctoral degree at Cornell University with Roberto Sierra and Steven Stucky. He has participated in a number of festivals and conferences including the Wellesley Composers’ Conference, the Aspen Music Festival, the Royaumont Voix nouvelles Composition Course, and the Aldeburgh Festival – bringing him in contact with such figures as Magnus Lindberg, Brian Ferneyhough, Mario Davidovsky, Oliver Knussen, and Anders Hillborg. Chris was a 2018 Civitella Ranieri Fellow, Mozart Fellow at the University of Otago, and resident composer with Orchestra Wellington and at the New Zealand School of Music. He won the 2008 SOUNZ Contemporary Award for his work Wax Lyrical, and his debut portrait album Tones was released on the Rattle label in 2019. He teaches composition at the University of Auckland.


“Chris Gendall’s Dulcet Tones created pinprick colours with a plethora of string techniques and keyboard flourishes, making it seem like an exotic private ritual…” (William Dart, New Zealand Herald, May 2017)

“…a highly effective essay in orchestral colour.” (Mark Rochester on Gravitas, Gramaphone, May 2021)

“…the purest musical ecstasy. We were blown away by its swoops and gasps, swarming pizzicato fields and clever effects…” (William Dart on Gravitas, New Zealand Herald, May 2011)

“Mr. Gendall’s stated goal was to dissect three elements of composition — melody, harmony and counterpoint — but his busy imagination touches on so many other things that focusing on specific compositional building blocks seems almost beside the point. The opening movement is packed with melody, or at least melodic fragments, which compete with one another for attention. In the harmony movement Mr. Gendall’s harmony is dense, dissonant and oddly static. Both here and in the finale, in which themes travel rapidly through the ensemble, the real draw is Mr. Gendall’s briskly morphing texture.” (Allan Kozinn on Rudiments, New York Times, September 2009)

“…boldly-etched pieces whose characteristics seemed to leave their original inspirations behind, but whose sharp, if oblique focus still compelled attention in each case.” (Peter Mechen on Suite for String Quartet,, May 2010)

…it really is a work of considerable scope and emotional range.” (Graham Reid on Dulcet Tones,, June 2019)

  Photos: Gareth Watkins.

Photos: © Marco Giugliarelli for Civitella Ranieri Foundation, 2018

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