A friend and fellow music-lover's recent tour of Auckland and the South Island prompted me to find a sampler and give a listen. First, though, the MP3 download to which Amazon links IS NOT to this 2-disc set, and another available disc entitled "New Zealand Composers" MAY NOT BE this one, so ensure it's on the Continuum NZ label, catalog number CCD 1073-2.
Disc 1 opens with Douglas Lilburn's Aotearoa Overture (suitably Sibelian) but for the most part is the more jarring and discordant disc that may require several listens to get acquainted. Disc 2 is definitely the easier introduction. Edwin Carr's suite from his ballet The Snow Maiden is curiously madcap, and I keep revisiting Larry Pruden's Harbour Nocturne, which must mean I need visit Wellington. The range of all the works pretty much runs the gamut of musical expression; evocative in a word. Maestro Kenneth Young and the NZSO are excellent throughout.
Full listing: CD1: Douglas Lilburn, Aotearoa Overture; Anthony Watson, Prelude and Allegro for Strings; Anthony Ritchie, The Hanging Bulb; Christopher Blake, Till Human Voices Wake Us; Gillian Whitehead, Resurgences. CD2: Jenny McLeod, Little Symphony; David Farquhar, A Short Suite from 'Ring Round the Moon'; Larry Pruden, Harbour Nocturne; Edwin Carr, The Snow Maiden.
You'll find more on the composers and their compatriots at the Web site for SOUNZ, the Centre for New Zealand Music.