Much-loved composer Lyell Cresswell dies aged 77

One of New Zealand’s greatest composers, Lyell Cresswell, has died aged 77 from cancer.

Lyell Creswell
Photo: Gareth Watkins / Lilburn Trust / Wallace Arts Trust

Cresswell was born in Wellington in 1944 and has been a full-time composer in Edinburgh since 1985.

He has maintained close ties to New Zealand and his music has been performed here frequently by the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, NZ String Quartet, Michael Houstoun and others.

Cresswell’s music is widely performed and broadcast, and has featured in many festivals around the world and in New Zealand.

In 1979 Cresswell was awarded the APRA Silver Scroll for his contribution to New Zealand music and more recently was named one of the winners of the 2016 Arts Foundation Awards Laureate Award.

In 2002, he received an honorary doctorate of music from Victoria University of Wellington and the first Elgar Fellowship, according to the SOUNZ Center for NZ Music.

He also took on the role of resident composer for the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington between 2006 and 2007.

Meanwhile, in Scotland, Cresswell was artistic director of the Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust’s New Zealand, New Music festivals in Edinburgh in 1998 and 2001.

In 2001, he received the prestigious “Creative Scotland Award” from the Scottish Arts Council.

His works have also been recommended by UNESCO’s International Rostrum of Composers on three occasions.

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