Salina Fisher (b.1993) is an award-winning New Zealand composer based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. Her highly evocative music often draws on her Japanese heritage, as well as a fascination with the natural world. With a background as a violinist, Salina finds lyricism in unusual timbres and extended tonalities, with a sensitivity to detail and gesture. Her music has been commissioned by performers including New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Alexi Kenney, Marmen Quartet, New Zealand String Quartet, NZTrio; and performed worldwide at venues including Lincoln Center, Philharmonie Berlin, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and The Kennedy Center. Her music has recently been programmed by the New York Philharmonic, Seattle Symphony, Melbourne Symphony, Stavanger Symphony, Shanghai Symphony, Auckland Philharmonia, Christchurch Symphony, and Ulster Orchestras; Land’s End Ensemble, Syzygy Ensemble, Forest Collective, and Young Concert Artists.
In 2016 Salina became the youngest ever recipient of the SOUNZ Contemporary Award for her orchestral work Rainphase, and also won the award in 2017 with her string quartet Tōrino – echoes on pūtōrino improvisations by Rob Thorne. After studying composition and violin at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music, she received a Fulbright scholarship to study in New York, where she was awarded the Carl Kanter Prize for Orchestral Composition. She has since been
Composer-in-Residence at New Zealand School of Music (2019-2020), At the World’s Edge Festival (2021), and University of Kentucky Symphony Orchestra (2023). She is the recipient of awards from The Arts Foundation (New Generation Award), Edwin Carr Foundation, Composers Association of New Zealand (Trust Fund Award) Canberra International Film Festival (Best Score - International Category), and NZSO Todd Young Composers Award (2013, 2014). Her music has been performed by National Symphony (USA), Dallas Symphony, Albany Symphony, North Carolina Symphony, Toledo Symphony, Rochester Philharmonic, Los Angeles Chamber, and Lapland Chamber Orchestras, with conductors including Gemma New and Tianyi Lu. Her composition teachers have included Susan Botti, John Psathas, Michael Norris, and Patrick Shepherd.
Salina particularly enjoys collaborating with other artists, including practitioners of taonga pūoro, Japanese instruments, ceramics, poetry, and film. She was a casual violinist in the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra (2012–2016) and has collaborated as an orchestrator and/or violinist with local artists including Alien Weaponry, Ria Hall, Grayson Gilmour, and Te Kahureremoa. A passionate advocate for music education, she has been Teaching Fellow in Composition at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music – Victoria University of Wellington since 2020, lecturing in composition and instrumentation/orchestration, and mentoring emerging composers through NZSO National Youth Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia, and At the World’s Edge Festival. Salina also enjoys performing and improvising on violin and koto, including as a member of Ao with Jerome Kavanagh (taonga pūoro) and Neil MacLeod (electronics), and Moth Quartet.
Premieres in 2023 include Toroa for taonga pūoro and violin commissioned by Forest & Bird for Auckland Arts Festival, Hikari for solo violin commissioned by Alexi Kenney for performances across USA and at Wigmore Hall, and a major new work for taonga pūoro and orchestra with Jerome Kavanagh and Auckland Philharmonia Orchestra.
Short bio (150 words)
Salina Fisher (b.1993) is an award-winning New Zealand composer based in Te Whanganui-a-Tara Wellington. Her highly evocative music often draws on her Japanese heritage, as well as a fascination with the natural world. Her music has been commissioned by ensembles including New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, International Contemporary Ensemble, Marmen Quartet, New Zealand String Quartet, NZTrio; and performed worldwide, including at Lincoln Center, Philharmonie Berlin, Walt Disney Concert Hall, and The Kennedy Center. She won the SOUNZ Contemporary Award for Rainphase (2016) and Tōrino – echoes on pūtōrino improvisations by Rob Thorne (2017), and has received awards from Fulbright, The Arts Foundation, Creative NZ, and CANZ. She is a graduate of Manhattan School of Music, New York, and New Zealand School of Music – Te Kōkī, Victoria University of Wellington, where she was Composer-in-Residence in 2019-2020, and is currently Teaching Fellow in Composition.