photograph: Michael Norris

Body (born in 1944) studied at Auckland University, in Cologne and at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht. During 1976-77 he was a guest lecturer at the Akademi Musik Indonesia, Yogyakarta, and since 1980 he has lectured at the School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, now the New Zealand School of Music.

His music covers most genres, including solo and chamber music, orchestral music, music-theatre, music for dance and film as well as electroacoustic music. He has also worked in experimental photography and computer-controlled sound-image installations, having received commissions from several public galleries. A fascination with the music and cultures of Asia, particularly Indonesia, has been a strong influence on his music. As an ethnomusicologist his published recordings include music from Indonesia and China. A recent landmark publication he edited was South of the Clouds, field recordings of Prof Zhang Xingrong (Yunnan Art Institute), of instrumental music of the minorities of South West China (Ode Records, 2003).

His music has been played and broadcast widely, nationally and internationally and he has been commissioned by the NZ String Quartet, the NZ Symphony Orchestra, the NZ Trio and many other groups, and has written four works for the Kronos Quartet. Jack Body's opera Alley, based on the life of Rewi Alley, was acclaimed at the 1998 NZ International Festival of the Arts. In 2003 he was a featured composer at the Other Minds Festival in San Francisco, and in 2004 he was honoured by a Composer Portrait concert in the NZ International Festival of the Arts. He has been a featured composer of the Atlas Ensemble (2004 Holland Festival), the Encuentros International Festival in Buenos Aires (2004), New Music Works, Santa Cruz, USA (2005), Neue Musik aus Neuseeland, Lübeck (2006), Art Summit Indonesia and the 4th International Music Festival, Phnom Penh (2007), and in 2008, the Beijing Modern Festival and the Cincinnati 08 Festival.

Recordings of his music include Suara (Ode), electroacoustic compositions using field recordings from Indonesia, Sacred and Profane (Ode), three large scale works for voices, Composer Portrait: Jack Body (Waiteata Music) with compositions ranging from 1968 to 2002, and Pulse (Rattle), a series of five works based on transcriptions from traditional non-Western musics. Pulse won the 2002 NZ Music Award for Best Classical CD. Waiteata Music Press released a Composer Portrait of his music in 2003. (See publications for details of recordings).

As a musical entrepreneur he has had wide experience including the organisation of a series of Sonic Circuses, 12-hour simultaneous multi-venue music marathons featuring New Zealand music. In 2002 he curated a five-concert festival of New Zealand music at the Ijsbreker in Amsterdam. He is the editor of Waiteata Music Press which publishes scores of New Zealand music, and has edited over twenty CDs of music by New Zealand composers.

In the promotion of the music and musicians of the Asia-Pacific region Jack Body was artistic director for the Asia-Pacific Festivals and Conferences in 1984,1992 and 2007, ten-day events that juxtaposed traditional and contemporary music of New Zealand and her neighbours. He travels widely in Asia, particularly Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and China, and has been actively involved in the Asian Composers League since 1981, and has served on its executive committee. He has been the guest of numerous music festivals in Asia and has arranged numerous visits to NZ by leading Asian composers such as Yuji Takahashi, Tan Dun, Qu Xiao-Song, Chinary Ung, etc.

Jack Body is a specialist in cross-cultural composition, in his own music as well as in his teaching. At Victoria University of Wellington he established a residency for traditional musicians to work collaboratively with composition staff and students. These guests have included, from Indonesia, Agus Supriawan, Dody Ekagustdiman (both from West Java), Rafiloza bin Rafii (Minangkabau), Wayan Yudane (Bali), and, from Kalinga, north Philippines, Benny Sokkong. These residencies have generated new compositions, recorded for broadcast and CD publication. In his own composition he has integrated other musical cultures as in Campur Sari for Javanese musician and string quartet, and Polish Dances, for clarinet and Javanese Gamelan.

As the manager of Victoria University's Gamelan Padhang Moncar, he has stimulated the creation of new compositions, which have been recorded and broadcast. These include works for gamelan and piano, gamelan and orchestra, gamelan and organ, gamelan and choral plainsong etc. In 2000, to celebrate 25 years of gamelan in New Zealand, he co-organised BEAT, an International Gamelan Festival with over 100 overseas participants.