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stephen leek

Stephen Leek image 1

Stephen Leek (b.1959) - WATU Guest Composer and Conductor


Stephen Leek is and has been one of Australia’s leading figures in music performance, composition and education over the past 30 years. As a composer his distinctive music is immediately recognizable across the globe and captures the enigmas, drama, rhythms, colours and ethos of Australia. As a conductor, motivator and teacher, he has been credited with having made a significant impact on and a major contribution to the development of Australian choral composition, performance artistry, education, and how that has been promoted and discussed throughout the world.
Working largely as a self employed freelance musician throughout his career, Leek has had several long-term engagements with organisations and through projects that have been self initiated. In 1983 – 1986 he was Composer/musician to the Tasmanian Dance Company and several other youth theatre, orchestras, educational and choral groups. From 1989 – 1996, with his improvisational vocal group vOiCeArT, Stephen Leek confronted the Australian music world head-on by throwing out wild challenges to the mainstream about the notion and practices of choral singing. From 1991 – 2009 Leek was Lecturer in Composition and Improvisation at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in Brisbane, and, at the same time, free-lanced as Lecturer and workshop leader in all leading secondary and tertiary institutions across Australia and also overseas.
In 1993 he was joint founder, and from 1997 – 2009 Artistic Director/Conductor, of The Australian Voices, an elite ensemble of young adult singers who, through their motivated commitment to the work of Australian composers, have significantly challenged and changed the landscape of choral music in Australia and taken Australian music to the most prestigious festivals and events around the globe. 
Among Stephen Leek’s array of personal accolades is the prestigious award in 2003, the “Robert Edler International Prize for Choral Music”. Cited by an international jury for his ‘decisive influence’ on both the Australian music scene and the international choral community as a composer and conductor, and presented to him in Germany, Leek has been admitted into the pantheon of leading choral composers and conductors worldwide alongside Conductors Freider Bernius, Karmina Selic, Maria Guinand and institutions such as the World Youth Choir. He has won numerous other national and international awards for his music including several Sounds Australian Awards, Sunnie Awards, and in 2004, his work ‘die dunkle Erde’ was selected to represent Australia at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris. Most recently he was awarded the 2013 APRA National Choral / Vocal Work of the Year. In 1997 he became a Churchill Fellow allowing him further research into music making in communities across Europe.

In recent years Leek’s activities have expanded more on the international scene where he has been Composer in Residence at the Marktoberdorf Musik Akademy, Germany; Guest Conductor with the acclaimed Formosa Singers, Taiwan, The Crystal Choir, USA, Composer NOT in Residence with Choral Artists of San Francisco, and, Guest Conductor with the Singapore Ministry of Education, The Taiwan Festival Youth Choir, The Crystal Choir in the USA, guest composer at the Sun Music Festival in Riga, Latvia, a juror at several international events including the World Choir Games and the Japan Choral Association Choral Championships, a presenter at numerous music festivals, education and choral Conferences around the world, including the World Choral Summit and World Symposium on Choral Music and, in 2012/13, he was Artistic Director and conductor of the Shanghai Youth Choir (China). Already in 2015 he has conducted workshops, masterclasses and concerts in China, USA, Indonesia, throughout Australia, and, as Conductor of the Asia Pacific Youth Choir, in concerts throughout Italy.
Stephen Leek is also a Vice President of the International Federation for Choral Music which requires considerable regular interchange and travel across the globe which has a motto of Volunteers connecting choral communities”. Here he is part of an international team who bring communities together through choral music and shape the global perception of choral music. Currently Stephen Leek is Artistic Executive of the IFCM World Choral EXPO 2015 (to be held in Macau), a member of the Artistic Committee in 2nd ITB International Choir Competition (Indonesia) and the 2015 WORLD EXPO Choral Program (Italy) and a member of the Asia Pacific Choral Council.
August 2015

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