Sibelius helps eight-year-old composer’s Earthquake Symphony to the stage

Composer Bob Gaudin and NZSO Director Emeritus, James Judd (courtesy TVNZ)

Last Thursday, a remarkable world premiere took place in Christchurch, New Zealand, of a new work by an eight-year-old composer, Bob Gaudin, which depicts his experience of the earthquake that struck the city in February. From the web site of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra:

Bob was practising with his band in his school music room when the quake hit, and took cover under his keyboard. It was scary, he admits – but when he got safely home he transformed all his emotions into classical music, evoking the different instruments by using Sibelius music notation software on a computer.

As he describes it, the piece opens with a few bars of the pop song his band was playing at the time. Next you hear the crashing down of equipment and the blaring of car sirens in various keys. Then, a haunting section of woodwind instruments represent Bob and his friends in tears, feeling frightened and alone, until their parents arrive to take them to safety.

That one-minute sound file found its way to the NZSO office in Wellington, where the orchestra’s Chief Executive Peter Walls listened to it and read Bob’s score. He was mightily impressed, and quickly made the decision to include Bob’s music in a special free concert the NZSO had announced at Burnside on 7 April.

Bob’s premiere has become big news around the world, and the young composer has even been interviewed on The Strand on BBC World Service, in a segment you can hear below:


To watch the segment on NZTV’s Close Up magazine show, click here.

It’s amazing to see Sibelius helping talented composers as young as eight years old to express themselves. Congratulations to Bob on his premiere!


  1. David Pritchard-Blunt

    Just excellent. Great to see the NZSO supporting this terrific young man.
    Love the “I compose, you conduct”. This kid’s going places.


    1. Robert Gaudin

      Not so young now! I’m 13. Thanks for your enthusiasm over my past self.

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