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Dudley Benson

Dudley Benson’s Biography

Last Updated:
21/05/2019, 10:25 pm
New Generation 2014
Ngāti Pākehā
Dudley Benson is a composer, producer and performer. He is one of the most innovative and unpredictable voices in New Zealand music.

A prolific composer, producer and performer, Dudley Benson (Ngāti Pākehā) is fast becoming one of New Zealand's most innovative and dynamic musicians, unafraid to bridge the gaps between contemporary, classical, choral, folk, and popular music. Since 2006 he has released two albums, three EPs, a double-live album and a remix album all through his own record label Golden Retriever Records. A consistent collaborator, Dudley has worked with a diverse range of artists from Vashti Bunyan and Matmos, to Dame Anne Salmond, Cat Ruka and Peter Stichbury. His history of live performances find him presenting both grand-scale nationwide tours in cathedrals and marae and intimate solo shows on the Tokyo club scene.

In all that he creates Dudley's concern, love and passion for Aotearoa is palpable. His 2008 critically acclaimed debut LP The Awakening signalled his distinctly unique musical voice to the New Zealand music scene. Dudley toured New Zealand's historic churches and cathedrals with a striking ensemble of choir, string quartet and taonga puoro authority Richard Nunns, weaving together "memories of New Zealand's colonial past with a personal and emotional nostalgia for childhood."

Following his international debut as a composer for Barbara Morgenstern's Wassermusik Festival in Berlin and his performance of a commissioned work for Auckland Art Gallery, Dudley began composing his long-awaited second album, Forest: Songs by Hirini Melbourne.

A former boy chorister of Christchurch Cathedral, vocal music in its many forms features strongly in Dudley's work: Choral, barbershop and polyphonic vocal looping are signature textures. Forest is recorded almost entirely with the human voice and sung largely in te reo Māori. Inspired by the work of Hirini Melbourne (Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Kahungunu), Dudley set out to interpret and arrange Melbourne's bird waiata, giving voice to his deep concern for the plight of New Zealand's native birdlife. The collection of ‘seven vividly-textured pop pieces that exist somewhere between the traditions of folksong and barbershop, choral anthem and hip hop' was nominated for the 2011 Taite Music Prize, and in 2014 was released as Deforestation - a remix album of radical re-workings by a striking ensemble of international and New Zealand producers.

Dudley continues to present innovative works and performances that defy any attempt to categorise. Following the release of his two albums in Japan by boutique independent label HEADZ, Dudley is currently recording his third album, the final in the trilogy that began with The Awakening and continued with Forest.

Milestones & Awards