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Jack Body


Born: 1944 Died: 2015


Jack Body (1944–2015) studied at Auckland University, in Cologne and at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht. During 1976–77 he was a guest lecturer at the Akademi Musik Indonesia, Yogyakarta, and from 1980 to 2010 he lectured at the School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, now the New Zealand School of Music.

His music covers most genres, including solo and chamber music, orchestral music, music-theatre, music for dance and film as well as electroacoustic music. He also worked in experimental photography and computer-controlled sound-image installations, having received commissions from several public galleries. A fascination with the music and cultures of Asia, particularly Indonesia, was a strong influence on his music. As an ethnomusicologist his published recordings include music from Indonesia and China. One landmark publication he edited was South of the Clouds, field recordings of Prof Zhang Xingrong (Yunnan Art Institute), of instrumental music of the minorities of South West China (Ode Records, 2003).

His music has been played and broadcast widely, nationally and internationally and he was commissioned by the New Zealand String Quartet, the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, NZTrio and many other groups, and wrote four works for the Kronos Quartet. Jack Body's opera Alley, based on the life of Rewi Alley, was acclaimed at the 1998 NZ International Festival of the Arts. In 2003 he was a featured composer at the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, and in 2004 he was honoured by a Composer Portrait concert in the NZ International Festival of the Arts. He was a featured composer of the Atlas Ensemble (2004 Holland Festival), the Encuentros International Festival in Buenos Aires (2004), New Music Works, Santa Cruz, USA (2005), Neue Musik aus Neuseeland, Lübeck (2006), Art Summit Indonesia and the 4th International Music Festival, Phnom Penh (2007), and in 2008, the Beijing Modern Festival and the Cincinnati 08 Festival.

Recordings of his music include Suara (Ode), electroacoustic compositions using field recordings from Indonesia, Sacred and Profane (Ode), three large scale works for voices, Composer Portrait: Jack Body (Waiteata Music) with compositions ranging from 1968 to 2002, and Pulse (Rattle), a series of five works based on transcriptions from traditional non-Western musics. Pulse won the 2002 New Zealand Music Award for Best Classical CD.

As a musical entrepreneur he had wide experience including the organisation of a series of Sonic Circuses, 12-hour simultaneous multi-venue music marathons featuring New Zealand music. In 2002 he curated a five-concert festival of New Zealand music at the Ijsbreker in Amsterdam. For 33 years he was the editor of Waiteata Music Press, which publishes scores of New Zealand music, and he edited over twenty CDs of music by New Zealand composers.

In the promotion of the music and musicians of the Asia-Pacific region Jack Body was artistic director for the Asia-Pacific Festivals and Conferences in 1984, 1992 and 2007, ten-day events that juxtaposed traditional and contemporary music of New Zealand and its neighbours. He travelled widely in Asia, particularly Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and China, and since 1981 was actively involved in the Asian Composers League, serving on its executive committee. He was the guest of numerous music festivals in Asia and arranged numerous visits to New Zealand by leading Asian composers such as Yuji Takahashi, Tan Dun, Qu Xiao-Song and Chinary Ung.

Jack Body specialised in cross-cultural composition, both in his own music as well as in his teaching. At Victoria University of Wellington he established a residency for traditional musicians to work collaboratively with composition staff and students. These guests included, from Indonesia, Agus Supriawan, Dody Ekagustdiman (both from West Java), Rafiloza bin Rafii (Minangkabau), Wayan Yudane (Bali), and, from Kalinga, north Philippines, Benny Sokkong. These residencies generated new compositions, recorded for broadcast and CD publication. In his own composition he integrated other musical cultures as in Campur Sari for Javanese musician and string quartet, and Polish Dances, for clarinet and Javanese Gamelan.

As the manager of Victoria University's Gamelan Padhang Moncar, he stimulated the creation of new compositions, which were recorded and broadcast. These included works for gamelan and piano, gamelan and orchestra, gamelan and organ, gamelan and choral plainsong etc. In 2000, to celebrate 25 years of gamelan in New Zealand, he co-organised BEAT, an International Gamelan Festival with over 100 overseas participants.

Information about Jack Body and his music for film and television can also be found on the NZ On Screen website.

Since April 2021, Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington has engaged in a restorative process around the historical allegations of sexually harmful behaviours by former staff member, Jack Body. The outcome of the restorative process can be viewed here.

Composed (122)

14 Stations

for amplified pianist, 20m

23 Pages

for orchestra, 17m

3 Sentimental Songs

for 3 percussionists and 1 pianist

A House in Bali

for string quartet, gamelan, narrator and sheng (or oboe)

Aeolian Harp

for violin, 4m

Aeolian Harp

for viola, 4m

Aeolian Harp

for cello, 4m

African Strings

for two guitars, 13m

After Bach

for eight violins, eight violas, and four cellos

After Bach

for gamelan, 4 solo violas and massed violas

After Bach

for four solo violas and 8-part massed violas


opera in two acts based on the life of Rewi Alley, 1h 30m

Arum Manis

for string quartet and tape, 8m

Ave Maria Gratia Plena

for SATB choir, 2m

BAI sanxian

for string quartet

Bamboo Music for eight players

for 8 musicians playing bamboo instruments, 20m


for string quartet, Chinese instrumental ensemble and tape

Campur Sari

for string quartet with Javanese musician, 14m


for violin

Carmen Dances

for guitar and orchestra, 23m

Carol to St. Stephen

for soprano, alto and tenor soloists and SATB choir, 10m

Cries from the Border

for string quartet and six voices

Duets and Choruses

for tape, 12m

Eights On My Teaching

for orchestra and narrator


for 4-track tape and group of participants, 1m


for string quartet, 13m

Epilogue: Sawangan

field recording, 1m

Fanfare for Bert

for orchestra


for tape, 12m

Fire in the Belly

for piano trio

Five Lullabies

for SATB choir or vocal ensemble, 14m

Five Melodies

for piano, 12m


for three string quartets, 2m

Four Haiku

for prepared piano and 21 solo strings, 18m

Four Stabiles

for piano, 6m

Fours on my teaching

for piano and speaker

Fours on my teaching

for orchestra with speaker

Hector's Ghost

for orchestra

Hello Francois

for orchestra, 13m

In Memoriam Memorabiliam

for SATB choir, 3m

In the Curve of Song

for voice, tape, viola, flute/piccolo and four percussionists


for chamber septet and tape, 13m

Interlude: Ciblon

field recording, 1m

Interlude: Dremenan

field recording, 2m

Interlude: Gua Tabuhan

field recording, 1m

Interlude: Kotekan

field recording, 1m

Intimate History no. 1: Yono

electroacoustic music, 14m


for SATB choirs, Cook Island choir, bells, shofar, organ, tape and orchestra, 30m

Jangkrik Genggong

for tape, 10m


for vocal octet and gongs


for tape, 10m

Little Elegies

for orchestra, 14m

Love Sonnets of Michelangelo

for soprano, mezzo-soprano, spoken voice and a dancer, 13m

Make Us Merry, with Canons for Brass

for three male voices, three trumpets and three trombones, 9m

Marvel not Joseph

for tenor and alto solos with SATB choir, 7m

Meditations on Michelangelo

for violin and string orchestra, 17m

Meditations on Michelangelo

for violin and piano

Melodies for Orchestra

for orchestra, 13m

Music for the New Zealand Liturgy

for SATB choir and organ

My Name is Mok Bhon

for orchestra, 13m


for cello and piano

O Cambodia

for mixed chamber sextet

O Mensch, bewein dein Sünde gross

for ondes martenot, glass harp, woodwind and strings

Pain in the Arse

for piano trio, 7m

Palaran: Poems of Love and War

for orchestra with traditional Javanese singer, 18m

Pange Lingua

for choir and gamelan, 3m 39s

Pange Lingua Gloriosi

for choir, ondes martenot and glass harp

Paradise Regained

for piano and gangsa or vibraphone, 4m


for voices, brass, woodwinds and percussion

Pater Noster

for 4 vocal soloists, choir, percussion, drums and one melody instrument, 14m

People look East

for SATB choir, 3m

Poems of Solitary Delights

for orchestra and tenor (narrator), 13m


for tape, 10m

Polish Folk Dances

for two clarinets, baritone saxophone, timpani and Javanese gamelan, 6m

Prelude: Azan

field recording, 1m

Psalm 103

for SATB choir

Psalm 137

for SSAATTBB choir

Psalm 150

for SATB choir

Psalm 150

for SATB choir and percussion


for orchestra, 21m


for flute and harp, 16m


for flute and piano, 16m

Resonance Music

for electric guitar and 6 percussionists, 12m


for string quartet (and accordion), 15m


for piano, 12m

Silence and Me

for tape, 9m

Song Cycle

sound/light/image installation for voices and the sounds of wood and metal, 18m

Songs and Dances of Desire: In Memoriam Carmen Rupe

for solo guitar, mezzo-soprano, counter-tenor and orchestra

Songs my Grandmother Sang

for voice and piano, 12m

Songs of Death and Desire

for two mezzo-sopranos, counter-tenor and orchestra

Sun and Steel (Homage to Mishama)

interactive sound and image installation


computer music for piano, 11m

The Caves of Ellora

for piano and brass ensemble

The Emperor Speaks.....

for Chinese instrument ensemble

The Garden

for sixteen instruments, 13m

The New Liturgy

for SATB choir, 13m

The Street Where I Live

for piano and CD, 4m

Three Dreams & A Nightmare

for vocal ensemble

Three Elegies

for chamber ensemble

Three Love Songs

for tenor, viola and cello, 8m

Three Rhythmics

for piano duet, 12m

Three Transcriptions

for string quartet, 15m

Tribute to the Blues

for clarinet, violin, viola, cello and piano

Tribute to the Blues

for thirteen-piece ensemble, 21m

Tui, korimako and kokako

for organ and birdsong (recorded), 5m

Turtle Time

for piano, harp, harpsichord, organ and speakers, 6m

Two Blues

for violin, cello and piano, 8m 30s

Vox Humana

for tape, 26m

Vox Populi

for choir and tape, 8m

Waiata Maori

for Maori singer and ensemble, 14m

Waiata Wahine

for mezzo-soprano and chamber orchestra

Wananga i te rangi

for tape, 20m

Wedding Song for Saint Cecilia

for women's choir


for flute, guitar/lute, sixian, and string quartet

Recordings (30)

Jack Body | Pulse - CD


Secret Sounds

Nz recordings other genres

Publications (1)

Resources (57)

Jack Body in Transit

Commentary or analysis

JACK! book launch - VIDEO

Media on demand

On Disk: Composers - DVD

Education resource

Performances (3)

NZTrio: The Americas

Ashley welcomes back Andrew Beer (violin) and Stephen De Pledge (piano) for a ripper of a program...

STROMA | Voices of the World

A rich collection of works inspired by non-Western musical traditions from around the world, incl...

NZTrio | The Americas

Ashley welcomes back __Andrew Beer (violin)__ and __Stephen De Pledge (piano)__ for one last 2019...