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Glenda Keam


Born: 1960


Glenda Keam is a composer, music analyst, lecturer, educational leader, new music advocate and festival organiser. She was awarded a PhD in Music by the University of Auckland in 2006 for her analytical thesis “Exploring Notions of National Style: New Zealand Orchestral Music in the Late Twentieth Century”. Earlier achievements include an MMus (1st class) in Composition from the University Of Auckland (1986). In the early 1990s she studied composition with Anthony Gilbert in Manchester.

Returning to New Zealand in 1994, Glenda lectured in Music at the University of Auckland from 1995-2006, and was Senior Lecturer and inaugural Programme Director for Music at Unitec, Auckland from 2006-2013. From 2013-2021 she was the Associate Professor and Head of Music at the University of Canterbury.

Glenda was President of CANZ (the Composers Association of New Zealand) from 2007 – 2017. In 2019 she was elected first female President of the ISCM (International Society for Contemporary Music), an organization dating back to 1922. Earlier appointments included time on the ISCM Executive Committee (including Vice-President from 2016) and four years as Treasurer of the NZSME (New Zealand Society for Music Education).

Glenda co-edited the 2011 Pearson publication “Home, Land and Sea: Situating Music in Aotearoa New Zealand”, which included her chapter “Attachments to place: locative aspects of New Zealand art music.” A composer-analyst, her writings focus on New Zealand music studies, music education, music analysis, New Zealand cultural identity in music, and the psychology of creativity.

Glenda’s compositions have been performed in Australasia, the US, Canada and the UK. She was a member of the National Youth Choir of NZ, the Academy of St Martin-in-the-Fields chorus in London and the Britten Singers (formerly BBC Northern), and enjoys performing as a piano improviser.

Glenda has represented New Zealand at international festivals in Australia, Croatia, Slovakia, Austria, Poland, Slovenia, South Korea, Canada, China and Estonia. She devised, curated, and organized the (09)03 Contemporary Music Festival held in Auckland in 2003, and co-curated the "New Zealand in LA" Festival of New Zealand music in 2012. She is Festival Director of New Zealand’s first ISCM World New Music Days, which – combined with the Asian Composers League Festival – will take place in Auckland and Christchurch in April 2020. In 2021 she became a member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Watch a lecture from Glenda speaking about shifting emphases in music education

Composed (19)


for violin quartet


for cello and bass clarinet, 5m

Does not play well with others

for bass clarinet, trumpet, horn and trombone, 6m 30s

Down-Under Doggerel

for mezzo, tenor, flute and piano, 4m

from the green notebook

for unaccompanied SATB choir and SSABB soloists

Get [a catalogue of imperatives]

for mezzo-soprano and viola, 6m

God the Mother Answers Briefly

for mezzo-soprano and piano, 3m

His not impossible She

for tenor and piano, 5m

Mind Springs

for piano solo

Rimmer in Space

for violin


microscore for mixed ensemble, 1m


two songs for treble voice(s) and piano, 3m

Songs of Summer Gone

for alto, treble recorder, viola and percussion, 5m 30s


for percussion

Three Cabaret Songs

for medium voice and piano, 5m

Two Songs of Experience

for medium voice and piano, 4m

Two Spanish Songs

for soprano and guitar, 4m