Leek, Stephen

Australia has a rich and diverse musical landscape, and one name that stands out in the realm of choral composition and performance is Stephen Leek. Born in Sydney in 1959, Leek's music captures the essence of Australia's drama, melodies, colors, and spirit. With a career spanning over four decades, Leek has made a considerable impact on the growth of Australian choral composition and performance, both domestically and internationally.

Early Life and Education

Stephen Leek was born in Sydney in 1959, laying the foundation for what would become an extraordinary musical journey. Growing up in a country known for its diverse musical traditions, Leek's early exposure to a variety of genres fueled his passion for composition and performance. He embarked on his musical education, honing his skills and immersing himself in the world of music.

Influence on Australian Choral Composition

Over the past four decades, Stephen Leek has played a pivotal role in shaping the landscape of Australian choral composition. His music, which is instantly recognizable, captures the enigmas, drama, melodies, colors, and ethos of Australia. It comes as no surprise that his compositions are among the most commonly played Australian music both domestically and internationally.

Leek's commitment to the growth of Australian choral composition and output is evident through his extensive influence on the music scene. He has been instrumental in encouraging and fostering the development of Australian choral composition, sparking debates and discussions around the world. Through his compositions, Leek has showcased the unique qualities of Australian music-making, leaving an indelible mark on the global choral culture.

Freelance Career and Artistic Collaborations

Stephen Leek's dedication to music extends beyond composing. He is a multifaceted individual with talents as a conductor, lecturer, and publisher. Throughout his career, Leek has earned several commissions, allowing him to explore and experiment with different musical styles and themes. His freelance schedule is packed with commissions, lectures, and guest appearances, showcasing the demand for his expertise and creativity.

Leek's involvement with the International Federation of Choral Music (IFCM), a UNESCO initiative, exemplifies his commitment to the global choral community. As the IFCM's Vice President and team chief for extensive artistic collaborations worldwide, Leek continues to contribute to the growth and development of choral music on an international scale.

Establishing Composer Residencies and Workshops

One of Stephen Leek's visionary contributions to the Australian music scene is the establishment of composer residencies. These residencies provide opportunities for composers to immerse themselves in the local music community, fostering creativity and collaboration. Through these initiatives, Leek has not only supported emerging composers but also enriched the Australian music landscape with fresh perspectives and innovative works.

In addition to composer residencies, Leek has devoted much of his time to developing workshops and repertoire that cater to performers of all ages and skill levels. From the very youngest performers to seasoned professionals, Leek's workshops stimulate, excite, and challenge participants, instilling performance practices and skills that allow them to interpret and appreciate the unique qualities of Australian and international music-making.

The Australian Voices: Transforming Choral Music

In 1993, Stephen Leek co-founded The Australian Voices, an elite group of young adult singers who have transformed the landscape of choral music in Australia. Serving as the Artistic Director and Conductor from 1997 to 2009, Leek led this passionate group towards exploring and championing the works of Australian composers. Under his guidance, The Australian Voices have represented Australia at prominent festivals and events worldwide, elevating Australian music to a global stage.

Awards and Recognition

Stephen Leek's professional achievements have garnered him numerous awards and recognition both nationally and internationally. In 2003, he won the prestigious Robert Edler International Prize for Choral Music, solidifying his position among the leading choral composers and conductors globally. Leek's 'decisive impact' on both the Australian music scene and the international choral culture has earned him a place alongside renowned conductors and organizations.

His work, "Die dunkle Erde," was selected to represent Australia at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris in 2004. The Australian Broadcasting Corporation recognized his talent and showcased his composition at this esteemed event. In 2013, Leek received the Choral Work of the Year award at the national Art Music Awards, jointly presented by APRA and the Australian Music Centre (AMC).

International Engagements and Commissions

Stephen Leek's reach extends far beyond Australia's borders, with his music gaining recognition and appreciation worldwide. He has been composer-in-residence at the Marktoberdorf Musik Akademie in Germany, where he had the opportunity to collaborate with international musicians and share his expertise. As a guest conductor, he has worked with renowned ensembles such as the Formosa Singers in Taiwan, the Crystal Choir in the United States, and Choral Artists in San Francisco.

Leek's international engagements also include conducting the Singapore Ministry of Education and the Taiwan National Youth Choir, further solidifying his influence on the global choral community. His extensive list of national and international commissions speaks volumes about his reputation as one of the most sought-after composers in the world.

Overcoming Domestic Challenges

Despite his international acclaim, Stephen Leek's contributions to Australian music have often been overlooked within his own country. This oversight by the establishment does not diminish his influence or the impact of his work. Leek's compositions continue to resonate with choirs and primarily amateur organizations worldwide, making him one of the most performed composers globally. His music bridges cultures and showcases the beauty of Australia's choral tradition.

Legacy and Future Endeavors

Stephen Leek's legacy is one of innovation, collaboration, and an unwavering commitment to the growth of Australian choral composition and performance. His groundbreaking work has paved the way for emerging composers and performers, inspiring them to explore the rich tapestry of Australian music. As he continues to push the boundaries of choral music, Leek's future endeavors are sure to leave an indelible mark on the global music scene.


Stephen Leek's remarkable journey as a composer, conductor, lecturer, and publisher has had a profound impact on Australian choral composition and performance. His music captures the essence of Australia, inviting listeners into a world of drama, melodies, colors, and spirit. From establishing composer residencies to transforming choral music through The Australian Voices, Leek's contributions have shaped the landscape of Australian music. Despite the challenges faced within his own country, his music resonates worldwide, making him one of the most performed composers of our time. Stephen Leek's legacy is one of passion, creativity, and a relentless pursuit of musical excellence.

Violin Compositions of Stephen Leek | Animato Strings


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