Chris Gendall

Originally from Hamilton, New Zealand, Chris Gendall 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 Britten-Pears Contemporary Composition programme, 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. He has held residencies at Orchestra Wellington and at the New Zealand School of Music, and he is the Mozart Fellow at the University of Otago for 2016 and 2017.

Chris Gendall’s works have received performances in Europe, Asia, North and South America, from such performers as the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Neue Vocalsolisten Stuttgart, Stroma, NZTrio, the New Juilliard Ensemble and the New Zealand String Quartet. Select works are published by the Waiteata Music Press, Peer Music Hamburg and Promethean Editions, and recorded on the Atoll and Rattle Record Labels. His work Wax Lyrical was the winner of the 2008 SOUNZ Contemporary Award.


“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)

“…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, Middle-C.org, May 2010)

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Photos: Gareth Watkins.

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