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Jack Body In Memoriam


Composer, musician, educator and friend.

In memory of Jack, SOUNZ has collated films of his music to this page.

Members of the SOUNZ staff have written about their memories of Jack and how his work has influenced and shaped them.

For more on Jack, you can listen to RNZ Concert Composer of the Week feature or watch the Jack Body 70th Year Tribute concert held at the Music Theatre, University of Auckland on 30 April 2014 in the presence of the composer. Listen to Jack discussing composition with Gareth Watkins and view the documentary about Tales from the Forbidden City.

A public memorial will be held at St Andrew’s on The Terrace in Wellington on Sunday 24 May, 2pm. Read a media release about the concert here.


Memorial events:

Tom Cadillac, Mahoney And Kraus, A Tribute To Jack Body, Auckland, 15.5.

Celebration for Jack Body, Wellington, 16.5.

Jack Body Memorial Concert, Wellington, 24.5. 

"Jack's Cries from the Border is the last work he composed. (I make this claim knowing that, because he worked till the last, this might be disproven!). Along with Eve de Castro-Robinson and Louise Webster, I was commissioned to write a work for the same occasion, the finale concert of the 2015 Adam Chamber Music Festival performed by the Song Company with the New Zealand and Ying String Quartets.

My commission was the result of Jack's advocacy of my music. Somehow he convinced the Adam Festival that I was capable of putting aside my hard-edged predispositions to write a festival-suitable work. This was probably a tough sell, but Jack was an effective salesman. Looking through my works now, I count four that would not have been written had it not been for Jack being in the ear of a concert organiser or ensemble, or because Jack was organising some big event and wanted me (and lots of others) along for the ride. Just how many other works of mine were the result of Jack's advocacy I cannot say - surely quite a few.

This one was especially poignant: Jack had been ill for quite some time, but he and Yono made it to Nelson to hear the premiere. He was lying down, resting out of sight on one of the Cathedral's pews when my piece was being rehearsed and those distinctive Body chuckles were heard when the performers came to my quote of part of his The Street Where I Live. I had dinner with Jack, Yono and Roland Peelman before the concert. I was always acutely aware of the possibility of such occasions being the last time I would see Jack, but as it turns out, that sad occasion was still months away.

The concert went well. At the end, Jack, Eve, Louise and I were applauded standing together below the stage. Elizabeth Kerr took a photo and it includes a delighted looking Yono off to the side. It was a great moment for me, not so much because my piece had come off well, but more because I got to stand there with Jack."

Chris Watson, Resound Project Manager
"As with Salina below (although many more years in the distant past!) Jack’s Five Melodies were the first NZ pieces I studied. This style of music was completely new to me and I found them revelatory. The irresistible pulse, the new (to me) piano techniques, the metrical freedom and expression in the slower pieces and the changing accents in no V – fantastic and daring!"
Julie Sperring, Executive Director
"The fifth of Jack’s Five Melodies for piano was the first New Zealand work I ever performed and loved. Thank you Jack, for sparking my love and pride for New Zealand music at a young age and inspiring me to compose!"
Salina Fisher, Resound Audio Curator

"The Street Where I Live is also a wonderful piece. I live in Aro St for half the week and in this Landscape Prelude Jack has captured the character of Aro Valley perfectly.  To hear Jack speaking the words with the piano music winding around them is magic and of course very poignant right now."
Julie Sperring, Executive Director

"Like so many of Jack’s works, Little Elegies is concerned with the political power of art. Originally commissioned by TVNZ to celebrate 25 years of television in New Zealand, Jack instead decided to focus on the element of television that he found abhorrent - the way it trivialises the violence of the world in the name of entertainment, and makes us powerless as spectators. I’ve always admired this act of artistic bravery. The musical attractiveness is strong too, with very rich and bright percussion writing that blends together with an expert touch."
Jason Post, Projects Coordinator

Below a selection of other recent films of Jack's music for you to enjoy. You can also find out more about Jack at SOUNZ online or at

Jennifer Shennan, Elizabeth Kerr and John Psathas pay tribute to the late composer  on Radio New Zealand Upbeat:

Read here an opinion article about Jack in The Dominion Post.

And here an Inside Story article about Jack’s Cries: A Border Town, recently performed at the Canberra International Music Festival.