Stephen Leek's (born 1959) music has a distinct sound that captures the drama, melodies, colors, and spirit of Australia. Over the past 40 years, he has been credited with having had a considerable influence on and commitment to the growth of Australian choral composition and performance, as well as how it has been encouraged and debated around the world. Stephen Leek's music is probably the most commonly played Australian music in the country. Leek's music is instantly recognizable, capturing the enigmas, drama, melodies, colors, and ethos of Australia. It is performed by choirs and ensembles all around the world. Over the past 30 years, he has been credited with having had a considerable influence on and commitment to the growth of Australian choral composition and output, as well as how it has been encouraged and debated around the world. Stephen Leek, a freelance musician, conductor, lecturer, and publisher, was born in Sydney in 1959 and has earned several commissions. Leek taught sessional composition and improvisation at Griffith University's Queensland Conservatorium until 2009 when he resigned to focus on his already busy freelance schedule of commissions, lectures, and guest appearances, as well as a non-remunerative role on the Board of the International Federation of Choral Music, a UNESCO initiative. He is actually the IFCM's Vice President and the team chief for much big artistic collaboration around the world.
Leek's association in various choral and music groups at all levels of achievement has had a critical impact on recent Australian music. He was a visionary in establishing composer residencies here in Australia. Leek has devoted much of his time to developing workshops and repertoire that stimulates, excites, and challenges the very youngest performers to seasoned professionals, putting performance practices and skills in place to allow all ages and skill levels to interpret, understand, and appreciate the unique qualities of Australian and international music-making. He co-founded The Australian Voices in 1993 and served as Artistic Director/Conductor from 1997 to 2009, an elite group of young adult singers who, by their passionate contribution to the work of Australian composers, have greatly questioned and transformed the landscape of choral music in Australia and brought Australian music to the world's most prominent festivals and events. Stephen Leek's professional achievements include winning the coveted Robert Edler International Prize for Choral Music in 2003. Leek has been inducted into the pantheon of leading choral composers and conductors worldwide, alongside conductors Freider Bernius, Karmina Selic, Maria Guinaund, and organizations such as the World Youth Choir, by an international jury for his 'decisive impact' on both the Australian music scene and the international choral culture as a composer and conductor. He has received numerous other national and international awards for his music, including several Sounds Australian Awards, and in 2004, his work Die dunkle Erde was chosen to represent Australia at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation. In 2013, APRA and the AMC honored him with the Choral Work of the Year award at the national Art Music Awards. Leek's activities have expanded further on the international scene in recent years, where he has been composer in residence at the Marktoberdorf Musik Akademy in Germany; guest conductor with the acclaimed Formosa Singers in Taiwan, the Crystal Choir in the United States, Composer NOT in Residence with Choral Artists in San Francisco, and guest conductor with the Singapore Ministry of Education, the Taiwan National Youth Choir, and guest conductor with the Singapore Ministry of Education, the Taiwan National Youth Choir. His list of national and international commissions has grown to resemble a Who's Who of the world. Leek is arguably one of the most performed composers in the world, with his work regularly performed by choirs and primarily amateur organizations all over the world, yet he is largely ignored by the establishment in his own country.