A masterful musical experience

Being involved in the epic No Man’s Land project turned into a once in a lifetime opportunity for three Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music (NZSM) Master’s students.

Masters students from the New Zealand School of Music students sitting outside on the Hunter building steps

Jack Hooker, Steffan Paton and Kenyon Shankie—who completed their Master of Musical Arts during the project—were given scholarships to work on the groundbreaking project. The trio travelled with John and his production team to revisit battlegrounds and other important World War I sites in Europe.

John says all three students rose to every challenge presented to them during the project. “Jack, Kenyon and Steffan were fantastic ambassadors for NZSM, Victoria University and New Zealand.”

Jack spent a year undertaking pre-production work before leaving New Zealand, including a lot of time communicating with the musicians. “On the road, I did some of the audio tech work.”

Kenyon and Steffan—as well as typesetting the score—prepared the performers for their roles in the project, ensuring that when they arrived to record their piece everything ran smoothly.

Working on the project was such an enjoyable time for the students, that it’s hard for them to name just one highlight.

“Every day was a highlight. There was huge variety across the 150 musicians involved—they are the best in the world at what they do. Everyone brought a new experience,” says Steffan.

Jack was thrilled to bring a huge group of musicians together to work on the same piece of music. “A musical project on this scale has never been done before.”

“Everything that the musicians needed to do to stand up on that stage and play those notes, we were involved in—in one way or another,” says Kenyon.