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Claire has that rare aspect within her musical expression, that is to conjure magic and wonder; and the ability to engage deep emotions.
— Paul McLaney, Native Tongue Publishing


Claire Cowan

I’m happiest when I’m composing to picture. I love the challenge of creating a sound world that perfectly compliments the heart of the story, and the characters within it. My musical interests lie in creating textures within my works which attract the ears to listen deeper within the mix.

My experience in writing for film and television has been across many genres, from romance to thriller to comedy to documentary. I also have a background in writing for theatre productions, and trained in acting in my youth. Occasionally I still perform in theatre productions also. My experience in the theatrical realm allows me to enhance an on-screen performance with just the right amount of subtlety.

My philosophy in composing and recording is to experiment a lot until I find the right ‘sound’ and build a whole world around it.

I’m classically trained, and have worked with orchestras, ensembles and soloists in the concert realm. I do a lot of arranging for pop artists and orchestral collaborations. I enjoy variety in composing and relish a challenge. I work in Logic Pro X for composing and Sibelius 8 for scoring. I operate from a cosy sound-proof studio in the musical heart of Auckland, Kingsland’s Parachute music studios.

When I’m not composing, I’m probably op-shopping, gardening, or cooking up a storm in my tiny kitchen.

For a full biography and credit list download HERE or scroll down for a short biography.



Claire’s work stands out for its originality and consistent high quality, and her professional trajectory for the last many years has been conspicuous for the energy and dedication that she brings to it. Claire is extremely active and effortlessly moves between seemingly disparate ‘musical worlds’. She is as adapt and comfortable with composing to picture as she is with creating orchestral scores and arrangements for popular music. Claire is a musical wonder, a gem - a oncer.
— -APRA Award Judges



I am a huge fan of Claire’s work..She has incredible musical sensitivity to texture and drama within a song, creating new soundscapes within well-loved pieces without losing the heart of the song. She has transformed my own work for performances with the APO, CSO, & Orchestra Wellington and I have been more than delighted with the results!
— Julia Deans





Claire Cowan - Composer Resume



Claire Cowan is at the forefront of composition in New Zealand. Her talent was acknowledged early on in her career by significant commissions and awards from orchestras such as the Auckland Philharmonia and the NZSO National Youth Orchestra whilst still a student at University. She has since gone from strength to strength as a composer, recently winning a prestigious Silver Scroll for her first Television series soundtrack “Hillary” and being awarded the APRA Professional Development Award for Film and TV music in 2017. In 2019 she will complete the first ballet score ever commissioned from a female composer in the history of the Royal NZ Ballet. Her classical concert work is unique in that it seamlessly merges art music and popular idioms in a way that is both natural and accessible. As a result, her music offers a very strong connection to audiences.



As a performer, Cowan’s expertise lies in strings and keys, often incorporating percussive and folk techniques into her classical string scores. She directs the Blackbird Ensemble - a vagabond chamber orchestra who create highly visual and theatrical musical experiences in non-traditional spaces.


Recent highlights include a violin concerto for violinist Amalia Hall, music for the World of Wearable Arts 30th Anniversary show, and an orchestral collaboration with singer Marlon Williams (A star is born.)

Awards & Nominations

  • Chapman Tripp ‘Best original score’ nomination for ‘The Keepers’

  • Apra Silver Scroll for “Hillary” TV series

  • TVNZ ‘best original score’ nomination for ‘Hillary’ TV series

  • Auckland University Cultural Blue Award

  • Auckland University Top Composition Scholar Award

  • Auckland Philharmonia Young Composers Award

  • NZ Symphony Orchestra Todd Young Composer Award

  • Auckland Artist in Parks residency recipient

  • APRA AMCOS Professional Development Award (Film and TV)

Film & TV Credits

IMDB profile

  • The Memory Booth -dir. Steven Chow (short)

  • The Off Season – dir. Michael Lonsdale (short)

  • Whetu-Rere, The Sealion and the Comet – dir. Kat Baulu & Alistair Jamieson (short)

  • Moonlight – dir. Tom Reilly (short)

  • Moonfishing – dir. David Michael Friend (short animation)

  • Assume Nothing – dir. Kirsty MacDonald (short)

  • Waitangi, What Really Happened – dir. Peter Burger (telefeature)

  • The Women’s Vote – dir. Peter Burger (telefeature)

  • Billy – dir. Peter Burger (telefeature)

  • Hillary TV series – dir. Danny Mulheron

  • An Ordinary Person – dir. Susan Potter (feature doco)

  • Shirley and the Hungary Bear – dir. Alan dickson (YUKFOO Animation)

  • Flipped – dir. Touch Compass Dance Company (short)

  • The Luring – dir Alex Plumb (short)

  • Sail Away – dir. Tama Jarman & Ella Becroft (short)

  • Baby? -dir. Mark Prebble (short)

  • Spirit’s Bay -dir. Joseph Michael Dark Cloud White Light

  • Kiwi – dir. Thomas Robbins (telefeature)

  • Golden Boy - dir. Alex Plumb (short)

  • Runaway Millionaires -dir. Danny Mulheron (telefeature)

Film Orchestration credits

  • My wedding and other secrets - composed by Andrew McDowall

  • Ladies in Black - credits music composed by Tim Finn

  • The Deadlands - composed by Don McGlashan

  • The Deadlands Tv Series -composed by Lachlan Anderson

  • 6 Days - composed by Lachlan Anderson

Theatre soundtracks

  • The Keepers – dir. Sally Stockwell

  • Paper Sky – Red Leap Theatre

  • Sea – Red Leap Theatre

  • Red – Auckland Theatre Company

  • Acquisitions – Touch Compass Dance

  • Ego – dir. D.M. Friend HERE centre for the Arts, NY

  • Dreams – Blackbird Ensemble

  • Suture – dir. Alys Longley

  • Leaning Tower of Penchant – Backlit productions

  • There once was a woman - dir. Beth Kaye

  • World of Wearable Arts 30th Anniversary show

Concert Music

  • NZ Symphony Orchestra Made in NZ concert “My Alphabet of light” and “The trojan bird”

  • Auckland Philharmonia War and Peace education concert “Drums of Mars”

  • NZ Piano Trio “Subtle Dances” & “Ultraviolet” Chamber music NZ commissions

  • Royal NZ Ballet “Hansel and Gretel”

  • NZSO National Youth Orchestra “Trains of thinking”

  • Christchurch Symphony  & Auckland Philharmonia  “Divas” and “The Adults”

  • Dave Dobbyn Orchestral Arranger

  • Modern Maori Quartet Orchestral Arranger

  • Tami Neilson, Bailey Wiley, ALAE Orchestral arranger

  • Tama Waipara Orchestral Arranger

  • LEISURE & Auckland Philharmonia  Orchestral arranger

  • Phoenix Foundation & NZ Symphony Orchestra -orchestral arranger

  • Marlon Williams - Orchestral arranger/Musical Director

  • Orchestra Wellington composer in residence commision “Stark –The Violin Concerto”

Teaching Positions

  • Guest lecturer in documentary music, NFB, Quebec, Canada

  • Guest Lecturer, Film music University of Auckland, NZ

  • Guest Lecturer, Victoria School of Music Wellington, NZ


Claire Cowan does fine work. Her music - whether film and TV scores or orchestral arrangements - is witty, highly crafted, and emotionally powerful. She enhances every project she’s involved with.
— Don McGlashan