Stephen Leek has been one of Australia’s leading figures in music performance, composition and education over the past 30 years. As a composer his distinctive music is immediately recognizable and captures the enigmas, drama, rhythms, colours and ethos of Australia. He has been widely commissioned by choral and instrumental ensembles around the world. As a conductor, motivator and teacher, he has been credited with having made a significant impact on and a major contribution to the development of Australian choral composition, performance artistry, education, and how that has been promoted and discussed throughout the world. He has been teacher and mentor to many leading Australian younger composers and musicians through his teachings, conducting practices, compositional schools and through his music.
Working largely as a self-employed freelance musician throughout his career, Leek has had several long-term engagements with organisations and projects. In 1983 – 1986 he was Composer/musician to the Tasmanian Dance Company and several other youth theatre, orchestras, educational and choral groups. From 1989 – 1996, with his improvisational vocal group vOiCeArT, Stephen Leek confronted choral music head-on by challenging the mainstream about the notion and practices of choral singing through experimentation and improvisation. From 1991 – 2009 Leek was a sessional Lecturer in Composition and Improvisation at the Queensland Conservatorium Griffith University in Brisbane, and, at the same time, free-lanced as Lecturer and workshop leader in all leading secondary and tertiary institutions across Australia and overseas. In 1993 he was joint founder, and from 1997 – 2009 Artistic Director/Conductor, of The Australian Voices, an elite ensemble of young adult singers who, through their motivated commitment to the work of Australian composers, significantly changed the landscape of choral music in Australia and took Australian music to the most prestigious festivals and events around the globe.
Among Stephen Leek’s array of personal accolades is the prestigious “Robert Edler International Prize for Choral Music”. He has won numerous other national and international awards for his music including several APRA/ AMC Sounds Australian Awards for Choral/Vocal Work of the Year, and Most Significant National Contribution to Australian Music by an Individual, several Sunnie Awards, and in 2004, his work ‘die dunkle Erde’ was performed at the UNESCO International Rostrum of Composers in Paris.
In recent years Leek’s activities have expanded on the international scene where he was Artistic Director and conductor of the Shanghai Youth Choir (China) 2012/13 and a Vice President of the International Federation for Choral Music since 2010. In 2016 Stephen Leek was appointed General Manager of the Young Music Society in Canberra whilst continuing with numerous conducting and composition engagements around the world.