Sounds and sights of Nepal await winners

LIBBY WILSON
Last updated 05:00 09/06/2014

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Jeremy Mayall can't wait to soak up the sounds of Nepal when he visits later this year, and get them into one of his compositions.

The doctoral candidate in music composition will be one of four high-achieving University of Waikato students to make the trip through the university's Step Higher awards.

They will see work begun by Sir Edmund Hillary in Nepal's Khumbu Valley, and contribute to projects run by the Himalayan Trust - for which they must each raise $1000 before they take off.

When the news arrived in an envelope from the University of Waikato, Mayall "opened it very unexpectantly", thinking it would be some routine communication.

Instead the 30-year-old found he'd been offered a new opportunity.

"The opportunity to be able to get into a place I've never been and explore the sounds and meet the people," he said.

"I've no real preconceptions about what any of it will sound like . . . I'm sure that I will hear something that will inspire a new piece of music."

This year Mayall is the Mozart Fellow at the University of Otago, which means he can dedicate himself to composing.

And the trip to Nepal will provide plenty of fodder as he specialises in "hybrid genre" music, and enjoys combining sound recordings with traditional instruments and translating landscapes to music.

He's also looking forward to finding out more about the work Hillary started - and hopes sales of his new album will help him get to the $1000 fundraising target.

The other Nepal-bound students are soprano and music student Blaire White, middle distance runner and management studies student Timothy Stewart, and Commonwealth Games 4x400 relay squad member and social sciences student Kristie Baillie.

All four students are in the university's Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar programme, meaning they "excel in academia, leadership and sports or creative and performing arts".

The four also wanted to share their skills and experience and contribute to their communities, University of Waikato vice-chancellor professor Roy Crawford said.

The Step Higher programme is sponsored by the Compass Group, which provides catering to the university's halls of residence.

Compass director of operations Rod de Vries said the programme focussed on leadership, a strong knowledge base and an active life, "which we know also deliver the best results in our business".

libby.wilson@fairfaxmedia.co.nz

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