Nīkau has a sizeable body of solo, chamber and large ensemble works composed over several years. Hallmarks of his works include rhythmic complexity, tone clusters and colourful instrumentation. Taking influences from Romantic harmony, modern jazz, and math rock, Nīkau's music interrogates dissonance and consonance by placing unfamiliar harmony in familiar settings, encouraging the listener to discover new avenues of beauty and intricacy in unexpected ways.
Though not all works have been recorded, scores can be viewed here for free.
Recordings & Scores
Matariki - E Toru Ngā Kitakita mō te Tau Hou Māori / 2020
for taonga puoro trio Op. 9
A piece co-composed with expert Taonga Puoro practitioner Rob Thorne to explore three aspects of Matariki for ancient Māori: its agricultural significance, navigational significance, and spiritual significance.
E Whiti, E Tohu / 2020
for men's chorus Op. 8
A tribute to the great prophets of the Māori settlement of Parihaka, Te Whiti and Tohu Kākahi, this piece honours their resistance against the violence of the colonial government and their struggle for peace against overwhelming opposition.
Im Wintergarten / 2019
for solo piano Op. 5
A sparse, impressionist piece utilising prepared piano and touch harmonics. Im Wintergarten recalls the first snow of the year in Vienna, Austria, from inside a greenhouse filled with tropical plants and citrus trees.
Interpretation by Alex Jefferies
The Outer Green Belt / 2019
for solo alto saxophone Op. 7
This piece recounts a walk across the collection of reserves and public parks known as Wellington’s Outer Green Belt. Established to nestle the city in an embrace of trees, birds and hills, the Outer Green Belt contains some of the most rugged and striking landscapes in Pōneke. The piece is split into three sections; the first is reminiscent of Polhill Reserve and the nearby wind turbine, the second of the coastline of Te Kopahou, and the third of the World War Two fortifications at Wrights Hill. The piece features several quartertones and even a striking use of multiphonics to evoke its settings, both challenging techniques even for an accomplished performer.
Handwritten extended technique fingering chart available on request
Fantasia Breve / 2019
from 'Four Miniatures'
A short, lively exercise for flute and clarinet with traditional counterpoint.
Meditations I / 2019
from 'Four Miniatures'
A slow, delicate tonal piece for harp and percussion utilising tone clusters and harmonics.
Edelweiß / 2018
for solo guitar
A reharmonisation of the beloved song from The Sound of Music.
Aluminium Polyphase / 2019
miniature for water bottle
A short percussion piece composed entirely with sounds from an aluminium water bottle.
Imitation de la Flute Limbe / 2019
miniature from found audio
A short piece composed using Digital Signal Processing of a Mongolian singer imitating a flute with the voice.
Original sample: https://tinyurl.com/limbeflute
Through / 2017
for 3 loudspeakers
This piece uses recordings of NASA’s probe in its flyby of Jupiter and juxtaposes the heartbeat-like pulse of low frequencies against the vast, lonely soundscapes of Earth’s largest cousin.
Variations on 2 Themes by Jeremy Soule / 2018
Variations on Reign of the Septims and Dawn of Flutes.
Kōkī / 2019
for whistling quintet Op. 6
Kōkī is based on the calls of three of Aotearoa's most beloved songbirds, the Tūī, the Ruru and the Korimako. Beginning just before dawn, the Ruru calls out into the darkness. As dawn breaks, the Tūī awake and begin their chirps and chattering, colours and sounds growing from their calls. Finally, the sun risen, the Korimako begin to flutter around, cooing excitedly to one another and heralding the day to come.
Butterfly Café/ 2017
trio Op. 2 in Eb Major
In Vienna's First District there is a café built into the side of the old Imperial Butterfly House. An unused part of the great enclosure after a restoration, the café retains an ornamental high ceiling, skylights and a catwalk for naturalists and curious Viennese in times past. Tropical plants reach up towards the light, and friendly butterflies with wings a kaleidoscope of colour perch curiously on the windows of the neighbouring Butterfly House and flit back and forth between the palms, watching politely as patrons take breakfast.