Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Zealander Adopts City with Song in Heart

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

New Zealander Adopts City with Song in Heart

Article excerpt

People ask Neil Newton about two things when they learn that he is from New Zealand: "The Lord of the Rings" and HBO's "Flight of the Conchords," two things that he has nothing to do with, he points out.

It might be true, but who doesn't remember the stunning landscapes from Peter Jackson's trilogy filmed in Mr. Newton's homeland? New Zealand, at least as far as J.R.R. Tolkien's fans are concerned, is the home of Middle-earth.

From Neil's perspective, New Zealand is in the middle, but in a different sense. As a culture, it is located somewhere between England and America, quite similar to both and maybe similar to Canada in a lot of ways, he says.

Neil, 33, met his future wife, Laurie Bolewitz, a Pittsburgh native, in Manchester, England. He landed a job at the University of Manchester teaching music analysis after receiving his doctorate in music theory at the University of Auckland, and she had just finished her master's program in art history at the University of Manchester.

Neil came to Pittsburgh in January 2013 after living in the UK for three years. He teaches music theory at the University of Pittsburgh. Laurie works in Four Winds Gallery, a shop in Shadyside that specializes in Native American art and jewelry.

"Most music theorists like me are interested in music composition first, and you start doing composition, and once you get an idea of what composition is about, you start analyzing what other people did, and then in the end you start being more interested in what other people did, and you don't care about composing any more. It just takes over."

Aside from his job at Pitt, where he also gets to research music, he plays guitar and still composes music. He played in a band in Auckland and Glasgow, Scotland, and is a member of two bands in Pittsburgh.

Neil is laid-back, tall, with reddish hair, beard, big glasses and a friendly laugh. When asked about stereotypes Americans hold about New Zealanders, he says Americans have not met enough New Zealanders to generate a stereotype.

"In England, though, people tend to think New Zealanders are boring, and I think it's predominantly because we do not like going to the pub as much as they do," he laughs. …

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