Stephen Leek, classical music composer
(born 1959) is an Australian composer, conductor, educator, and publisher.
Leek was born in Sydney, Australia in 1959, lived in Brisbane from 1964 through 1969, and then spent the rest of his childhood in Canberra. After coming late to music, Leek took up piano and percussion, and then later, the cello as a teenager, and became active as a member of many musical organisations including the Canberra Children's Choir, Canberra Youth Orchestra, Australian Youth Orchestra, Canberra Symphony Orchestra and his own vocal group VOCE. He attended Torrens Primary School, Melrose High School and Phillip College (now Canberra College).
Following school and after a period of working in Sydney, Leek returned to Canberra in 1979 and commenced a Bachelor of Arts (Music) degree at the Canberra School of Music graduating with a double degree - the first student to achieve this honour. After graduating in 1984 with a double degree majoring in Cello Performance and Composition, Leek moved to Sydney where he free-lanced as a cellist and as a composer - getting more work as a music copyist than anything else in the initial stages. As a music copyist he was able work for many of the active composers around Sydney at that time. He also worked as a music copyist and arranger for Musica Viva Australia, the Australian Broadcasting Commission, and the Midday Show.
His early professional career began as full-time composer and musician for the then Tasmanian Dance Company (now TASDANCE) for 3 years. During this time he worked with many of Australia's leading choreographers and dancers in the creation on new work and also in the innovative Dance in Education program of the company. Much of this time was spent "on the road" with the company working in small towns, schools and in community centres around Tasmania. When he resumed his freelance career as a composer in 1986, he worked extensively in theatre, dance, education and community music across Australia and undertook numerous residencies in schools, universities, community groups, orchestras, choirs and theatre companies. Some of his residencies have included the National Music Camp (2 years) St Peters Lutheran College (4 x 3 months), Sydney Grammar School, Sydney Youth Orchestra, the Arena Theatre Company (Melbourne) and Alice Springs Junior Singers. He has written widely on composition and contributed to numerous books and treatise on this subject area. Prior to setting up The Australian Voices, Leek created the innovative and experimental ensemble vOiCeArT who became quite well known in Australia for their choral and musical improvisational performance events in concert halls, theatres, galleries, city malls and other public spaces across Australia. Many of the members from vOiCeArT are now leading composers and performers both in Australia and overseas.
Leek has been described as a pioneer of composer residency schemes in the Australian music community, and his involvement with numerous groups across Australia has strongly influenced the nature and directions of new Australian choral music. He has also been described as Australia's best known choral composer. In 1993 Leek, with Graeme Morton, founded The Australian Voices, an ensemble of young adult singers who work to promote Australian composers and change the landscape of choral music in Australia. Leek left The Australian Voices in 2009, leaving Gordon Hamilton as Artistic Director.
Over the past 20 years Leek has worked with ensembles including The Sydney Children's Choir, AusDance, Gondwana Voices, St Peters Chorale at St. Peters Lutheran College (Brisbane), Glenn Ellyn Children's Choir (USA), The Australian Youth Orchestra, Opera Queensland, Tapiola Children's Choir (Finland), Taipei American School (Taiwan), Leeds Girls' High School (UK) and The Formosa Singers (Taiwan, SCEGGS Darlinghurst.
Leek continues to compose, and also undertakes residencies, teaching and conducting engagements. His music is published by Morton Music, Oxford University Press and Boosey & Hawkes. He currently teaches Composition and Improvisation sessionally at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University.
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