Kiwi klassics

Kiwi klassics

Pianist Tahu Matheson's recording for Kiwi Pacific Records in 1998 includes concert studies by New Zealand composer Edwin Carr.

Kiwi Records classical catalogue 

Kiwi Records was a saviour of New Zealand composers. The label, started by publisher A.H. & A.W. Reed in 1957, was one of the few local outlets for recording classical music. 

Composer edition series

Singer Tony Vercoe took charge of Reed’s Kiwi Records division in 1959. He had trained as a classical singer alongside Inia Te Wiata and wanted to record local classical music. Helped by the New Zealand Composers’ Foundation and the Australasian Performing Right Association (APRA), Kiwi Records began the New Zealand Composer Edition series.

An early disc was Landfall in unknown seas, which matched the poetry of one of New Zealand’s major poets with the music of one of its major composers. Allen Curnow read his poem, which was set to Douglas Lilburn’s music played by the Alex Lindsay String Orchestra. It got a rave review from Gramophone magazine.

Kiwi Records became for many years a focal point for a developing awareness of our musical identities, encouraging and fostering our talents in a practical way, and professionally giving us a new and vastly wider audience both here and overseas through radio systems.

Douglas Lilburn

The series went on to record compositions by Ashley Heenan, Edwin Carr, Larry Pruden and others. In 1976 the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra’s recording of Lilburn’s Symphony No. 2, conducted by Ashley Heenan, won album of the year. 

Kiwi Records launched the recording career of Kiri Te Kanawa. Her first LP, Kiri (1966), quickly went gold, and Kiri in concert won a Loxene Gold Disc Album Award in 1967. Kiwi Records also launched Malvina Major, who still records with the label.


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