Hayden Chisholm

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Hayden Chisholm
Chisholm performing in Istanbul in 2010
Background information
Born (1975-05-27) 27 May 1975 (age 43)
Origin New Plymouth, N.Z.
Occupation(s) composer, saxophonist producer
Instruments saxophone, clarinet, melodica, flute
Years active 1996 – present
Labels Nonplace, Intuition, Enja, Moontower Foundation
Associated acts Rebecca Horn, Bernd Friedmann, Nils Wogram
Website [1]

Hayden Chisholm (born 27 May 1975 in Otahuhu, New Zealand) is a New Zealand saxophonist, composer, and multi-instrumentalist. His work has touched on a wide range of musical genres but he is best known for his jazz, improvised and contemporary classical music, and his work with the artist Rebecca Horn.

Life and career[edit]

Hayden Chisholm, Moers Festival 2007

Chisholm was raised in New Plymouth, New Zealand, by parents Heather and Doug Chisholm. His first musical experiences came with local Dixieland bands. He began playing clarinet at age nine before switching to what became his primary instrument, the alto saxophone, two years later. The early influences of Johnny Hodges, Sun Ra, Eric Dolphy were strong, being his first jazz records. He was a member of the award-winning New Plymouth Boys' High School Jazz band and won the prize for Most Outstanding Jazz Musician at the National Jazz Festival in Tauranga, 1991.

With a DAAD scholarship Chisholm attended the Musik Hochschule in Cologne, Germany. He studied saxophone with Frank Gratkowski. In 1997 he received the New Zealand Young Achievers Award which enabled him to continue his studies abroad. During these years he also studied Carnatic music in Chennai and traveled extensively in the Balkans learning the different musical traditions.

During his studies in Cologne Chisholm developed a system of micro-tonal fingerings for saxophone and so called "split-scales" which he presented on his 1996 debut solo CD Circe on Jazzhaus Musik. These scales split perfect intervals using quarter tones. His microtonal work was later featured on the Root70 album Root70 on 52nd 1/4 Street which received the German Critics Award.

During his studies in Cologne he met many musicians he still collaborates with today including Marcus Schmickler, Nils Wogram, John Taylor, Felix Fan, Adrian Brendel, Burnt Friedman, Jochen Rückert, Burnt Friedman, Antonis Anissegos, Jaki Liebezeit, Claudio Bohorquez. He also worked under Mauricio Kagel who was then professor for composition.

Since 2000 he has collaborated with the German artist Rebecca Horn. His work with her is wide-ranging, from composing the music for major site-specific installations “Moonmirror” (Mallorca, 2003), “Lumiere en Prison” (Paris, 2002), Spiriti de Madre Perla” (Naples, 2002), “Twilight Transit” (NYC 2004), Heart Shadows (Lisbon, 2005), "Das Universum in einer Perle” (Berlin, 2006), to recomposing the music for her early performance films which was released on a complete DVD set in 2005. In 2008 he worked as assistant director with Horn for the Salvatore Sciarrino Opera Luci mie traditrici at the Salzburger Festspiele. In 2009 he composed the music for her film Fata Morgana which was premiered at the Teatro La Fenice Opera House during the Venice Biannale. In 2011 he composed the music for her documentary film "Moonmirror Journey" which premiered in Berlin.

In 2001 he composed music for the German Theater (Deutsches Schauspielhaus) in Hamburg, working on Maria Stuart by Schiller and Arabische Nacht by Schimmelpfennig.

In 2006 and 2007 he was musical director of the Earth Festival in Kenya which featured a large cast of international musicians, including Huun Huur Tu. In 2008 he performed with David Sylvian on the "World is Everything" tour.

Since 2006 he teaches a yearly masterclass on Mount Pilion in Greece in the village of Agios Lavrentios. His course "The G-string of Pythagoras"fuses saxophone, just intonation, ancient music theory, and improvisation.

In 2008 he was assistant director at the Salzburg Festspiele of the Opera "Luci Mie Traditrici" by Salvatore Sciarrino.

In 2012 Chisholm was featured in the feature documentary Sound of Heimat – Deutschland singt, directed by Arne Birkenstock and Jan Tengeler. In the film, Chisholm travels through Germany and explores authentic forms of German folk music.

In 2013 he released a 13-CD Box set 13 Views of the Heart's Cargo which presents his most important recordings dating back to 2001. The first CD in this box, Love in Numbers, features works for Saxophone in which Chisholm explores the Fibonacci series as it manifests in the overtone series.

In 2015 Hayden Chisholm contributed to Waywords and Meansigns, a collaborative project setting James Joyce's Finnegans Wake to music.[1]

Hayden is a member of the quartet Root 70 with trombonist Nils Wogram.[2][3]


As leader[edit]

Circe, 1996 (Jazzhaus Musik)

Miniatures, 1999 (2nd Floor)

Subultra: NGC2997, 1999 (Subultra Edition)

Subultra: SUBULTRA LIVE, 2001, (Subultra Edition)

Master Fu’s Relaxation Exercises, 2002

Doha: Music to Benefit the Great Stupa at Shambhala Mountain Center (with Claudio Bohorquez and Gareth Lubbe), 2005 (Padma Media)

Nearness, 2005 (Holzwarth Publications)

Amazing Daze (with Marcus Schmickler), 2006 (Haepna)

The Embassadors: Healing the Music, 2007 (Nonplace)

The Embassadors: Coptic Dub, 2009 (Nonplace)

13 Views of the Heart's Cargo (13-CD Box Set), 2013 (Moontower Foundation)

  • Love in Numbers, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT1
  • The Rabbit's Dream of the Inner Mongolia, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT2
  • Nearness Live, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT3
  • Lula Pena and Hayden Chisholm Live in Berlin, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT4
  • Hayden plays Haydn, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT5
  • Mute Density with the Lucern Jazz Orchestra, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT6
  • Fragmented Teaching, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT7
  • The Dharma Cowboy, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT8
  • The Life of Hands in Love, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT9
  • Breve - Live at Plush, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT10
  • The Well-Tempered Sruti Box, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT11
  • Auto-Poetica - Works for Saxophone, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT12
  • My Blood Flows from Scotland to Armenia, 2013, Moontower Foundation MT13

Breve, 2015, (Pirouet Records)

Cusp of Oblivion (13-CD Box Set) 2016

  • Cusp of Oblivion, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT14
  • Sisyphus Runs, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT15
  • The Void Between Us, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT16
  • Finn Again Wakes, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT17
  • Temptation, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT18
  • Glowing Core, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT19
  • Blowslap, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT20
  • Cassiopeian Slowdance, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT21
  • Ace of My Heart, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT22
  • Transitioning Alpha Theta, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT23
  • Sacred Love and Pain, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT24
  • Oracle Hymns, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT25
  • Star Shepherd, 2016, Moontower Foundation MT26

Unwind, 2017, (Rattle Records)

As sideman[edit]

Hans Ludemann RISM 7: FutuRISM, 1998 (JazzHausMusik)

Jochen Rueckert: Introduction, 1998 (Jazzline)

John Goldsby: Viewpoint, 2001 (Nagel Heyer)

Nils Wogram Sextet: Odd and Awkward, 2001 (Enja)

Thorsten Wollmann/WDR Big Band Cologne: Colours of Siam, 2002, (In & Out Records)

Pluramon: Dreams Top Rock, 2003 (Karaoke Kalk)

Antonis Anissegos: Amoebas, 2004 (Konnex Records)

Nine Horses: Snow Borne Sorrow, 2005, (mit David Sylvian und Steve Jansen) (Samadhi Sound)

Rebecca Horn: Hayden Chisholm: Music for Rebecca Horn’s installations' - Moon Mirror / Spiriti di Madreperla / Light imprisoned in the belly of the whale, Book and 2 Audio-CDs, ISBN 978-3-935567-26-8, 2005

Dan Sperber Complex: I, 2006

Pluramon: The Monstrous Surplus, 2007 (Karaoke Kalk)

Nine Horses: Money for All, 2007 (EP, Samadhi Sound)

Coloma: Love’s Recurring Dream (Italic) 2009

Jürgen Friedrich: Monosuite, 2012 (Pirouet)

Dejan Terzic: Melanoia, 2013 (Enja)

Sebastian Gramss: Slowfox - The Wood, 2014 (Jazzwerkstatt)

Norman Meehan: Small Holes in the Silence, 2015 (Rattle)

Dejan Terzic: Melanoia - Labyrinth, 2015 (Enja)

Nautilus: Infrablue, 2016 (Two Rivers Records)

Dejan Terzic: Melanoia & Quatuor XIX - Red, 2016 (BMC)

Sebastian Gramss: Slowfox - Gentle Giants, 2017 (Traumton)

Nils Wogram’s Root 70

  • Root 70, 2000 (2nd Floor)
  • Gettin’ Rooted, 2004 (Enja)
  • Heaps Dub, 2005 (Nonplace)
  • Fahrvergnugen, 2006 (Intuition)
  • Root 70 on 52nd ¼ St, 2009 (Intuition)
  • Listen to Your Woman, 2011 (Nwog)
  • Rio Mare, 2013 (Nwog)
  • Wise Men Can’t Be Wrong, 2015 (Nwog)
  • Luxury Habits, 2017 (Nwog)

Burnt Friedman

  • Burnt Friedman & The Nu Dub Players: Can't Cool, 2003 (Nonplace)
  • Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit: Out in the Sticks, 2005 (Vinyl-only mit David Sylvian) (Nonplace)
  • Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit: Secret Rhythms 2, 2005 (Nonplace)
  • Flanger: Spirituals, 2005 (Nonplace)
  • Burnt Friedman: First Night Forever, 2007 (Nonplace)
  • Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit: Secret Rhythms 3, 2008 (Nonplace)
  • Flanger: Bibliotheque Pascal, 2010 (Soundtrack, Nonplace)
  • Burnt Friedman & Jaki Liebezeit: Secret Rhythms 4, 2012 (Nonplace)
  • Burnt Friedman: Bokoboko, 2012 (Nonplace)


  • Cheap Imitation - Schonberg Pierrot Lunaire [with Reinhold Friedl andMarkus Weiser], 2007 (Zeitkratzer Records)
  • Volksmusik, 2008 (Zeitkratzer Records)
  • Electronics - Carsten Nicolai, 2008 (Zeitkratzer Records)
  • Electronics - Terre Thaemlitz, 2008 (Zeitkratzer Records)
  • Electronics - Keiki Haino, 2008 (Zeitkratzer Records)
  • Old School - Alvin Lucier, 2010 (Zeitkratzer Records)
  • Old School - James Tenney, 2010 (Zeitkratzer Records)
  • Old School - John Cage, 2010 (Zeitkratzer Records)
  • Plays Pres [Polish Radio Experimental Studio], 2010 (Bold Records)


  1. ^ "James Joyce Centre News". Retrieved 2015-04-27.
  2. ^ Astarita, Glenn (19 May 2002). "CD/LP Review: Nils Wogram - ROOT 70". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-06-10.
  3. ^ Hareuveni, Eyal (14 July 2008). "The Israel Festival, Jerusalem 2008". All About Jazz. Retrieved 2010-06-10.

External links[edit]