There exists an unspoken prejudice among certain professional musicians – composers, performers, critics, administrators, funding bodies – against music written for amateurs. Most believe that sort of activity to be beneath their dignity; some performers, (like actors) regard it as a risk to be seen and heard in the company of amateurs (and children and animals); critics and journalists, similarly, prefer not to be associated without the big names. For this reason Stephen Leek is not as widely known as he should be. Of course, Leek may have the last laugh, because there is a new generation of young musicians in Australian that would probably mention him first when asked to name a living composer. Leek doesn’t compose exclusively for amateurs, but it seems to be his preferred domain. Certainly he is expert at it, and the result of such expertise is to transcend the amateur tag altogether. Like Orff, Britten and Maxwell Davies – to name only three, Leek writes music for his young performers that is in the first place challenging, but soon turns out to be exceptionally grateful to sing; the difficulties can be overcome. And, like the other three composers music for non-professionals, Leeks sound more technically difficult than it really is. In other words, choirs do this because it makes them sound good, and thats not a bad reason. Andrew Ford (24 Hours Magazine)
Listener Feedback from ABC FM listeners regarding the Stephen Leek interviews on Keys to Music with Graham Abbott.
Message: I really enjoyed the program today on Stephen Leek. It was good to hear of Australian music. He is such a humble man. He reaches out to ordinary choirs. As our conductor for a Term in 2007 he put so much energy into a little over 50s choir at Mapleton – a tiny Australian village- he deserves to be Australian of the Year! Keep on promoting him as someone who lives the essence of what it is to be an Australian and as one who can express it for others in an art form.
Message: As a Canberran it was a great delight to hear the interview with Stephen Leek on Saturday 17th January. I have followed his musical progress for about 16 years now and I was so pleased that he duly acknowledged the influence of the redoubtable Judith Clingan during the program.
Message: I’m a perpetual Classic FM listener as you know, and love your presentations on Saturday mornings. This morning was especially interesting with Steven Leek – I was part of the workshop that you conducted with him, all these years ago – happy memories!
Message: That was a wonderful program with Stephen Leek. Such exciting music. Thank you for a glorious start to the day…as always. Would you be able to tell me if the first piece in particular (I don’t remember the exact name, but you played the last movement) has been recorded and if so where I can buy it?