In this series, we present our new composers. We are proud to introduce Jessie Leov
Please tell us about yourself and what you do
I am a composer and musician, originally from sunny Nelson, currently based in Waikato. My background in the arts is fairly diverse – including songwriting for theatre, performing on cruise ships as a singer and pianist, writing documentary music, composing for community choirs, gigging around Auckland in an acoustic duo, arranging music for barbershop quartets, and the list goes on.
I’m currently studying a Master of Music majoring in composition at the University of Auckland and I do some tutoring there as well. I also work in two secondary schools as an itinerant music teacher.
A memorable experience from the past few years was having my orchestral piece, the wilds, performed and recorded by the NZSO as part of the 2018 NZSO Todd Young Composer Awards. As an emerging composer it was a hugely educational experience and one that has stuck with me ever since.
Please choose 2-3 of your works/albums and tell us about them
For several years I’ve been involved in the development of an original full-length musical with Wellington-based composer/playwright Marlon Richards. Two songs from the soundtrack were selected to be performed at the inaugural Music Theatre Unleashed event at the Civic Theatre, an initiative by NZ Music Theatre Company featuring original work by kiwi theatre composers and performers.
In my first year in the composition programme at UoA (2014) I was searching for opportunities and ended up connecting with Nina Wells of Working Edge Productions and writing some tracks for her documentary, Birds of a Feather. Working with Nina was one of the first collaborative experiences I had as a composer and it really stoked my passion for cross-disciplinary collaboration. Birds of a Feather was a Silver Award Winner for the Spotlight Film Documentary Awards (2015) and an Official Selection for the Sebastopol Documentary Film Festival (2016).
What are you working on at the moment?
Over the past six months I’ve been working with Nelson Bays Harmony Chorus to create a new choral work for SSAA voices, for the 2020 SOUNZ Community Commission. Collaborating with them has been a real privilege and an opportunity I’m super grateful for. We’re both looking forward to the premiere of our piece, Call of the Ocean, in June at the Nelson Centre of Musical Arts. I’m also having a piece for piano trio premiered at this concert which will be performed by some top-notch Nelson musicians.
In a couple of months I will have finished my master’s degree and then I will be working on an a cappella SATB piece for Auckland-based chamber choir Cantorum, which will be premiered at their Christmas concert in December.
My main focus at the moment is building a strong portfolio which reflects my recent compositional work. I currently have five pieces set to be premiered this year, with a couple more in the works, so I’m feeling optimistic about reaching this goal in the not-too-distant future.
How can people contact you?