Student songwriter wins national award

Cambridge High School’s James Ter-Moushuizen, 17, brought back two awards from the Shakespeare Festival National Award Ceremony.

A Cambridge High School student’s musical masterpiece won a prestigious award at the Sheilah Winn Shakespeare Festival National Award Ceremony in Wellington on June 3.

James Ter-Moushuizen’s original song, Status Quo, earned him the title of supreme winner of the Morrison Music Trust Shakespeare Composition competition, having also won first place in the smaller sub category, “Music inspired by a Shakespeare play”.

It all started last year when James wrote the song for a music class assignment, choosing the play Much Ado About Nothing as his point of inspiration. The now-Year 13 student said it only took him about a day or two to write the song, using the old-fashioned method of simply sitting down with a pen, paper and instrument to write the song. Judges later commented that James’ use of real instruments in his song recording, compared to computer-generated works from other students, gave merit in his selection as overall winner.

Following similar footsteps to that of Dave Grohl with the first Foo Fighters album, James played and recorded all the parts in the song himself, including guitar, drums, bass and vocals. The talented student also plays the piano, but that didn’t come into play here.

It was his school music teacher Daniel Peters that suggested he enter his song in the competition, “as it was a great song and fulfilled the requirements for the competition,” Mr Peters explained. “I am exceptionally proud of James and this achievement. He is a very talented musician who puts a lot of thought and effort into his compositions.”

As part of the win, in addition to performing the song on stage, James was awarded $500 and has been selected to take part in SGCN’s (Shakespeare Globe Centre New Zealand) National Shakespeare Schools Production from September 29 to October 7 in Dunedin, where he’ll also take part in workshops at Otago University. If all goes well, he could be selected to be a member of the 2019 SGCNZ Youth Shakespeare Company, travelling to Shakespeare’s Globe in London for workshops, tours and performances on the Globe stage, as well as visiting Shakespeare’s home town.

“I didn’t expect it, it was pretty cool,” James said of the award win. “I definitely didn’t expect to win the supreme one.”

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