We write
great emails.

If you’d like to stay in the loop with the arts and creativity in Aotearoa, get ‘em in your inbox.

If you’d like to join a movement of people backing the arts and creativity.



Ross Harris

Ross Harris’s Biography

Last Updated:
16/05/2019, 7:35 pm
Arts Foundation Laureate 2014
Ross Harris is a freelance composer of art music.

Ross Harris is one of New Zealand's leading contemporary composers of art music. His prolific output of more than two hundred compositions has seen him receive the coveted SOUNZ Contemporary Award more times than any other New Zealand composer.

Following his studies at Victoria University under Douglas Lilburn in 1971, Ross went on to receive national and international awards for his electroacoustic compositions. His compositions since span the width and breadth of the contemporary classical world, from opera to symphonic music, chamber music and electronic music. In 1985, Harris received a Queen Service Medal for his opera Waituhi created in collaboration with the libretto by Witi Ihimaera's and the CANZ Citation for Services to New Zealand Music in 1990.

Since leaving his teaching position at Victoria University in 2004 Ross has been working as a freelance composer. In 2005-6 he was Composer in Residence with the Auckland Philharmonia during which time he wrote nine pieces including two symphonies. In 2008 - 2009 he was Composer in Residence at the New Zealand School of Music in Wellington during which he wrote his Symphony No. III, Variation 25 for string quartet for the New Zealand String Quartet. Recently Ross has had premieres of his Symphony no.4, Violin Concerto no.1 (with Anthony Marwood and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) and his Cello Concerto (with the Auckland Philharmonia and Li-Wei Qin).

In recent years, Ross's music has been released by prestigious record companies, Rattle and Naxos. His collaborations with poet Vincent O'Sullivan have produced two operas, a symphony, three song cycles and Requiem for the Fallen. One of the song cycles The Abiding Tides (for soprano Jenny Wollerman and the New Zealand String Quartet) was described by music critic Rod Biss as "...a work that instantly enriched our heritage of New Zealand music".