Michael Norris (b. 1973) is a Wellington-based composer, software programmer and music theorist. He holds composition degrees from Victoria University of Wellington and City University, London, and is currently Programme Leader, Composition at Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington. He is recipient of the 2001 Mozart Fellowship, the 2003 Douglas Lilburn Prize, the 2012 CANZ Trust Fund Award and has been nominated for the SOUNZ Contemporary Award five times, winning it in 2014 with his work Inner Phases for string quartet and Chinese instrument ensemble, and again in 2018 for his work Sygyt for throatsinger, ensemble and live electronics.

He has participated in composition courses featuring leading composers such as Peter Eötvös, Alvin Lucier, Christian Wolff and Kaija Saariaho, and has had performances from the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Roberto Fabbriciani, Michael Houstoun, the New Zealand String Quartet, NZTrio, Richard Haynes, the Viennese Saxophonic Orchestra, Ensemble Offspring, Stroma, the Israel Contemporary Players and the Ensemble Pierrot Lunaire Wien.

In 2010, he was commissioned by the SWR (Sudwestdeutsche Rundfunk) to write a new chamber orchestra work, Sgraffito, which was premiered at the Donaueschinger Musiktage 2010 by the Radio Chamber Orchestra Hilversum, conducted by Peter Eötvös. Die Zeit reviewed Sgraffito as one of the highlights of the festival.

Michael is also co-founder and co-director of Stroma New Music Ensemble, and has collaborated with a number of other artists including Daniel Belton and Ashley Brown. He is coordinator of the Creative New Zealand/Jack C. Richards Composer-in-Residence at the NZSM, and serves on the boards of the Lilburn Residence Trust and Stroma New Music Trust. He is currently an Executive Committee Member of the Asian Composers League, and is the Editor of Wai-te-ata Music Press.

Michael's programming work is also renowned. His 'SoundMagic Spectral' suite of real-time FFT-based audio effects have been used extensively in both industry and academia worldwide, and by artists such as Aphex Twin and Brian Eno.


  • Winner, SOUNZ Contemporary Award, 2018
  • Winner, SOUNZ Contemporary Award, 2014
  • Finalist, SOUNZ Contemporary Award, 2013
  • CANZ Trust Fund Award, 2010
  • Trans-Tasman Composer Award, 2010
  • Finalist, SOUNZ Contemporary Award, 2009
  • Finalist, SOUNZ Contemporary Award, 2004
  • Winner, Douglas Lilburn Prize, New Zealand, 2004 (Audience, Players and Overall Prizes)
  • Finalist, Music 2000 Prize, New Zealand, 2000
  • New Zealand representative at the ACL Young Composers Competition, Yokohama, Japan, 2000 (placed second overall)
  • Special Mention, First International Sound Software Competition, Bourges, 1996
  • The Philip Neill Memorial Prize in Music, Otago University, 1996

Professional experience

  • Associate Professor, New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, 2004–
  • Orchestra Wellington, Composer-in-Residence, 2017–2018
  • Chair, Composers Advisory Panel, Centre for New Zealand Music, 2018–
  • Editor, Wai-te-ata Music Press, Victoria University of Wellington, 2012–
  • Artistic Director, Stroma New Music Ensemble, 2000–
  • Trustee, Lilburn Residence Trust, 2010–
  • Secretary, Asian Composers League, 2008–2012
  • Mozart Fellowship, Otago University, 2002
  • Composer in Residence, Southern Sinfonia, 2001
  • Editor of newsletter and yearbook, Composers Assoc. of NZ, 2001-2009

International conferences and festivals

  • Melbourne Music Analysis Summer School, Melbourne, 2017
  • International Computer Music Conference, Perth, 2013
  • Asian Composers League Festival/Conference 2011, Taiwan
  • Donaueschingen Musiktage 2010
  • Music and Evolutionary Thought Conference, Durham, 2007
  • Acanthes New Music Festival 2007
  • Ostrava Days Music Festival
  • Asian Composers League Festival/Conference 2009, Seoul
  • Asian Composers League Festival/Conference 2000, Yokohama

Papers, articles, lectures

  • ‘Harmonic stratification in the instrumental and electronic music of Douglas Lilburn’ in Searches for Tradition: Past & Present in New Zealand Music, VUP, 2017.
  • ‘Blind Light: towards the morphology of an idea’, in Shifting Ground: CANZ Conference 2017, University of Canterbury, April 2017
  • Keynote Address, In Body Music 2015: Jack Body Cross-Cultural Music Conference, Zhejiang Conservatory of Music, December 2015.
  • ‘“A kind of travelling”: reflections on the role of musical transcription in works by Jack Body’, in Body Music 2015: Jack Body Cross Cultural Music Conference, 2015.
  • ‘Inscapes and Soundscapes: Semantic, Harmonic, Timbral, and Spatial Stratification in Lilburn’s Electroacoustic Music’, in Searches For Tradition: 2015 Meeting Of The New Zealand Musicological Society, 2015.
  • ‘SPIN/DRIFT: a real-time spatialized granular synthesis algorithm with particle system physics & behaviours’, Proceedings of the International Computer Music Conference 2013, Perth, Australia.
  • "Intentionality, Causality, Corporeality and Organicism in Live Electronics". Proceedings of the 2011 Australasian Computer Music Conference, July 2011
  • "Tonal Desires: convention and transgression in the harmonic procedures of three non-transcriptive works by Jack Body". Canzona 2007, Composeres Association of New Zealand
  • "Tessellations and enumerations: generalising chromatic theories". Canzona 2006, Composers Association of New Zealand
  • "Crystalline Aphorisms: commentary and analysis of Jenny McLeod's Tone Clock Pieces I–VII". Canzona 2006, Composers Association of New Zealand
  • "Half-heard sounds in the summer air: electroacoustic music in Wellington and the South Island". Organised Sound, Cambridge University Press, Vol 6. No 1, April 2001
  • "Colliding Worlds: the music of Juliet Kiri Palmer": Music in New Zealand, Summer 1999/2000
  • "Time, Motion and Memory: the music of John Young": Music in New Zealand, Spring 1999
  • "Sounds, Symbols and Systems: problems of analysis of electroacoustic music". New Zealand Musicological Society Conference, University of Auckland, June 1999.
  • "Reinstating Interpretation: the status of analysis in an electroacoustic context". Australasian Computer Music Conference, Victoria University of Wellington, July 1999. Revised and reprinted in Mikropolyphony