Graeme Leak, music maker
​height: 175cm

Biography
​for full Curriculum Vitae please scroll down

Graeme Leak String Quartet 1996 with Jane Fisher, Tim Dargaville and Phil McLeod
GRAEME LEAK STRING QUARTET with Jane Fisher, Tim Dargaville and Phil McLeod Victorian Arts Centre Melbourne, 1996

I work as a performer, composer, music director and instrument maker both solo and in collaboration with professional and community performers in Australia and the UK. 

Soundcheck, Spaghetti Western Orchestra 2011
Soundcheck, Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Royal Albert Hall 2011

My performing career highlights include 10 years of international touring as a co-creator of The Spaghetti Western Orchestra with productions at the Montreal Jazz Festival and the Royal Albert Hall; premiering over 100 newly commissioned solo and ensemble works with contemporary music groups Flederman and Synergy in the 90s; extensive touring of solo recitals and original shows such as From Africa to the Kitchen SinkGraeme Leak String Quartet and The Lab (with Linsey Pollak); and glockenspiel soloist in From the Canyons to the Stars at the Sydney Opera House in 1988 in the presence of the composer, Olivier Messiaen.​

Graeme conducting his Finale at the 2006 Commonwealth Games

I have written over 50 works for instruments and voices, including commissions for the 2006 Commonwealth Games and the 2013 Canberra Centenary. My recent works include Spirit Rising (2018) for string-can orchestra and The Exquisite Now (2019) for groups of any number for Museums Victoria.

Girgarre Junkestra 2018
Girgarre Junkestra 2018

As a music leader I devise productions that involve a mix of composing, devising and instrument making with groups of all ages, skill levels and from all walks of life. Events include Raising the Roof (2012) with 300 diverse participants for Arts Centre Melbourne and, since 2017, an ongoing artistic association with the small town of Girgarre, Victoria. I helped to create a tin-can orchestra known as Junkestra together with Girgarre instrument makers and long-time collaborator Patrick Cronin.

Tourists playing the Musical Fence, Winton, Qld 2013
Tourists playing the Musical Fence, Winton, Qld 2013

I am well known as the creator of the outback Queensland town of Winton’s interactive installation, The Musical Fence (2003). The playable wire fence with overhead acoustic resonators and accompanying junk percussion park, with a wonderful Bush Drum Kit by David Murphy, has become a popular tourist attraction.

I have devised and produced one off special events in Australia for Melbourne Recital Centre, the Melbourne FestivalTen Days on the Island Tasmania, the Queensland Music Festival and in the UK for the Watford Colosseum, Cornerstone Arts Centre and East Neuk Festival.

​My latest show SAVED, built around rescued 70s home organs, received a Made in Scotland grant and will be showcased at the Edinburgh Festival 2021. 

download biography here ​ | for full Curriculum Vitae please scroll down | or download Curriculum Vitae here

Graeme Leak, Full Curriculum Vitae 2021

(best viewed on a desktop…)

DOWNLOAD FULL CV

p e r f o r m a n c e   |  e v e n t s  |  i n s t a l l a t i o n   |  w o r k s h o p s  
2020 Lead artist EAST NEUK FESTIVAL BIG PROJECT. Rubbish collected from Fife beaches to be transformer into a ‘Fantastic Plastic Parade Band’. Workshops June 2020, parade performance 4 July [cancelled due to Covid-19]2020 Successful grant application to Made in Scotland for inclusion in 2020 curated program of shows for Edinburgh Fringe[UPDATE: The Made in Scotland Showcase has been re-scheduled for 2021 due to Covid-19]
2020 SAVED performances at Glasgow Science Centre for ‘Science Lates’. 2 x 30 minute shows and 2 x 30 ‘minute show and tells’
2020 Artist in residence, Girgarre – outdoor installation project planning, JUNKESTRA rehearsals to prepare for TV recording
2019 Build, write, rehearse and develop new solo performance SAVED, premiered November 2019
2019 Tutor, Music for People Summer School. Delivered MAKE and PLAY and RHYTHM ORCHESTRA programs
2019 Toured the  GIRGARRE JUNKESTRA to Melbourne to appear as guests at the Arts Learning Festival
2019 delivered MAKE and PLAY workshops for Arts Learning Festival, Melbourne 
2018 Composed THE EXQUISITE for massed groups of handbell players (premiered May 2019), Museum Victoria commission.
2018 Sound design for Holly and Ted’s POLARIS, Edinburgh Festival Fringe
2018 Ten-week Artist in Residence, Girgarre’s Small Town Transformation: built orchestra of upcycled instruments, led over 50 rehearsals, composed 40minute work for gala show, Victoria, AUS
2017 Two Noise Orchestra workshops to create the band to lead evening lantern parade, Didcot, Oxfordshire
2017 Sound designer and composer for Polaris by Holly and Ted: specified, purchased and programmed sound rig, designed and built on-stage instruments and composed show cues, London
2017 Worked with year 5, 6 and 7 students from two schools to devise and present performance materials as principle artist in Home Sweet Home, Grid Arts program, Milton Keynes
2017 Twelve-week Artist in Residence, Girgarre’s Small Town Transformation: created outdoor installations, ran skills workshops, produced a concert and up-cycled found objects into instruments, Victoria
2016 – 17 Guest percussionist, singer and ukulele player, Rag House Band, St Albans
2016 – 17 Series of six music devising and performance workshops with disabled participants, Milton Keynes 
2016 Guest lecture, Anglia Ruskin University creative music technology class, Cambridge 
2016 – 18 Performer and Sound Designer for UK tour of Furious Folly Oxford, Birmingham, Stockton and Weymouth
2016 Sound Designer and Workshop Leader for Young Corn Exchange ‘SKY’ project, Newbury
2016 Full day of creative music devising and performance with Year 9’s at St Francis College Letchworth
2016 Public Noise Orchestra workshop series at the London Irish Centre, Camden, London
2016 Conducted a series of six public Noise Orchestra workshops, St Albans
2015 Devised and directed a ‘Eurovision Song Challenge’ workshop for NN Art Gallery, Northampton
2015 Created LISTEN! for Watford Colosseum, three day occupation of FOH spaces with parallel performances and publicly activated music machines, Watford 
2015 Performer and Sound Designer for premier or Furious Folly by Mark Anderson Poperinge, Belgium
2015 Featured artist in GAUGE at Brighton Festival, three-week installation at Circus St Market attended by over 7,600 visitors, created by Madeleine Flynn and Tim Humphrey, Brighton
2014 MD and assistant event designer for opening of 101 Creative Arts Space, Newbury
2014 Performer and sound designer for UK preview of Furious Folly by Mark Anderson, Newbury
2014 Pulse Metre Rhythm workshop for Grand Union Orchestra, London 
2014 Pulse Metre Rhythm workshop for Guildhall percussion students, London
2013 Music Director, Centenary of Canberra – programmed music on boats, composed music for a Welcome to Country and directed public Noise Orchestra workshops and performance, Canberra
2013 Directed The Incredible Hulls (2005, revised 2013), Mandurah Western Australia
2013 The Dripolator featured in GAUGE exhibition and performances, Arts House Melbourne
2012 Designed, devised and directed Raising the Roof community concert, wrote a Finale for 300+ performers including the audience, Hamer Hall, Arts Centre Melbourne, Melbourne
2012 Designed and installed Sound Explorers interactive exhibition, Melbourne Recital Centre, Melbourne
2012 Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Sydney Opera House season, Sydney 
2012 Spaghetti Western Orchestra tour, Amsterdam
2012 Spaghetti Western Orchestra 31 show, 31 city tour of UK England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales
2012 Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Southbank Centre, London 
2011 Spaghetti Western Orchestra, BBC Proms Concert, Royal Albert Hall, London
2011 Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Guest Appearance, Jools Holland Show, BBC TV, London
2011 Composed and conducted Drumming the Light for 180 community players,  CHOGM Commonwealth Festival, Perth
2011 Conducted Ringing the Changes, CHOGM Commonwealth Festival Perth
2011 Conducted Noise Orchestra workshops and parade, Winton Outback Festival Winton, Queensland
2011 Developed and presented a series of public Rhythm Workshops, Melbourne
2010 Retrospect – Prospect duo concert with Neil Thomas, Astra, Melbourne
2009 Spaghetti Western Orchestra tour Greece, London, France, Italy 
2009 Composed Ringing the Changes, opening Melbourne International Arts Festival Melbourne 
2008 Spaghetti Western Orchestra tour The Netherlands, Germany, USA 
2007 Drum Machine, Musicircus, Melbourne International Arts Festival Melbourne
2007 Residency in Jundah (pop 80) state school. Built junk instruments and made a show Jundah, Queensland
2007 Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Montreal Jazz Festival and Europe Canada, France, Germany
2007 Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Auckland Festival, New Zealand
2006 Wrote and directed Finale for 180 ‘All-Star’ players, Myer Music Bowl, Commonwealth Games, Melbourne
2006 Ennio Morricone Experience renamed Spaghetti Western Orchestra, Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Signed by Glynis Henderson Productions (UK – producer of STOMP), Edinburgh 
2006 Co-writer and performer, The Session, music-theatre piece set in a recording studio Melbourne
2006 Composed and conducted Under the Bonnet, for cars and band, Melbourne Int’l Festival Melbourne
2005 Queensland Music Festival opening takes place at the Musical Fence in Winton. Directed the Winton Fence Band, made up of locals, in a dawn concert Winton, Queensland
2005 Ennio Morricone Experience, Edinburgh Fringe Festival, Edinburgh
2005 Composed and conducted The Incredible Hulls, for an orchestra of boats, in Hobart, Launceston and Georgetown, Ten Days on the Island Festival, Tasmania
2004 The Art of Noises, solo show, 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art Kanazawa, Japan 
2004 Ennio Morricone Experience, Adelaide Cabaret Festival, Adelaide
2004 Ennio Morricone Experience, Sydney Opera House, Sydney
2004 Conducted Music Making Workshops in Kanazawa for adults and children, Japan
2004 The Lab with Linsey Pollak, Seattle and Vancouver International Children’s Festivals Canada, USA
2004 The Lab with Linsey Pollak, Sydney Festival, Sydney
2004 Composed and conducted Hullabaloo, for children’s choir, Melbourne Int’l Festival, Melbourne
2003 Created and conducted the Winton Fence Band, Qld Music Festival and Winton Shire Council Winton, Queensland
2003 Musician-actor in Phobia, Chamber Made Opera, Dancehouse, Melbourne
2003 Drum Machine, installation-performance, The Blue Thong artist’s club, Melbourne Festival, Melbourne
2003 Ennio Morricone Experience, Adelaide Cabaret Festival (5 member ensemble) Adelaide
2003 Designed and built the Musical Fence, Qld Music Festival and Winton Shire Council Winton, Queensland
2002 Ennio Morricone Experience sell-out season, Melbourne Fringe Festival, Melbourne
2002 Soloist, REV festival of new instruments and sounds, dir. Linsey Pollak, Powerhouse, Brisbane
2001-2 Ennio Morricone Experience perform in Melbourne nightclubs, the Melbourne and Adelaide Festivals (Spiegeltent), Port Fairy Folk and Queenscliff Music festivals Australia
2001 Bell Director for Melbourne Festival Bells and Brass. Coached and conducted 400 performers from regional Victoria, performance at the Myer Music Bowl  regional Victoria, Melbourne
2001 The Art of Noises solo show, Hong Kong City Festival, Hong Kong
2001 Happy New Ears, music-theatre piece created through GL workshops, IHOS Opera Hobart
2000 STUNTS with Joel Salom (midi juggler), Festival Big Top, Edinburgh Festival, Edinburgh
2000 Soloist, Slave Pianos International Biennial, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne
2000 The Art of Noises solo show, 4th Australian Performing Arts Market, Adelaide
1999 Created and directed Axe LyricalHonky Tonk and Percussion Maintenance Team outdoor music pieces for Queensland Music Festival, Brisbane
1999 The Art of Noises solo show, Queensland Biennial Festival of Music (featured artist), Brisbane
1999 The Art of Noises solo show, Sydney Opera House Studio Sydney
1991 – 99 Lecturer in Performance, La Trobe University (including Head of Department, 1998), Melbourne 
1994 – 97 Director, instrument builder, composer Graeme Leak String Quartet (GLSQ), Melbourne
1997 A History of the String Can, GLSQ, Astra Concerts Melbourne
1996 Series of GLSQ concerts for Arts Centre Melbourne Melbourne
1996 Music Workshop Leader for Arts Centre Melbourne Winterarts program Melbourne 
1996 Guest programmer and conductor, Choir and Brass Band, ASTRA Concerts Melbourne
1995, 96 Artist in Residence, Buchan Primary School, devising and performing with the kids Buchan, Victoria
1995 Art of Noises, Percussive Arts Society International Convention, Phoenix, Arizona USA
1995 GLSQ season, Napier St Theatre Melbourne
1994 – 95 Multi-instrumentalist, THAT improvised music collective, director David Tolley Melbourne
1994 Artist in Residence, Edge dance theatre and Young Drums group, Lismore, culminating in a public performance at Lismore City Hall (6 weeks) Lismore, New South Wales 
1993 The Art of Noises solo show, Folkwang-Hochschule, Essen, Germany
1992 Solo Recital, opening of National Composer’s Conference Melbourne
1991 From Africa to the Kitchen Sink, solo concert of original material, Astra Concerts Melbourne
1986 – 90 Percussion Lecturer, Sydney Conservatorium of Music Sydney
1988 – 90 Percussionist Jump Back Jack and Hungarian Rap Sadists bands led by Jackie Orszacksky, Sydney
1978 – 90 Percussionist Sydney Symphony Orchestra (including Guest Principal), Sydney
1986 – 88 Performer WATT electronic and computer collective, dir Martin Wesley Smith, Sydney
1989 Co-writer, Composer and Performer Home Boys dance music show, Rocks Theatre. Sydney
1988 Soloist From the Canyons to the Stars in the presence of visiting composer Olivier Messiaen, Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney Opera House Sydney
1979 – 88 Percussionist and core member Flederman contemporary music ensemble, concerts in Australia and in Europe, New Zealand, America and UK Australia, Europe, NZ, UK, USA
1987 Artist in Residence, University of Western Australia, Perth (2 weeks) Perth, Western Australia
1980 – 86 Percussionist and core member Synergy percussion ensemble, Sydney Opera House, Sydney
1979 – 86 Percussionist Australia Ensemble and Seymour Group, Sydney Sydney
1984 Percussion Lecturer, Canberra School of Music Canberra
1979 – 88 Percussionist Australian Chamber Orchestra, Sydney
1981 – 82 Percussion Lecturer, Queensland Conservatorium of Music, Brisbane

i n s t r u m e n t  d e s i g n  a n d  c o n s t r u c t i o n 
2019 Collected, assembled and modified retro-tech organs, cassette players and AM radios and created amplifiedbass drum using internal styrofoam panel and speaker-as-mic, as stage set for SAVED solo show.  
2018 Created a JINGLING JOHNNY for Scottish Chamber Orchestra from recycled materials
2018 Designed and built innovative ‘String-Cans’, fretted single-string instruments that enable non-musicians to quickly play chords and harmonies in public music workshops. Premiered in Girgarre, Victoria
2017 Sound designer for Polaris by Holly and Ted: designed and built two contact-mic instruments used as principle audio production units for live sound on stage in the production
2016 Created UK Noise Orchestra instruments  from recycled water fountain bottles and chemical containers
2015 Created Drum Machine MKII, hand-cranked mechanical drumming instrument, for LISTEN!
2015 Created Leslie, manually operated spinning horn voice-thrower, for LISTEN!
2015 Assembled Reel to Reel, retro tape-delay installation created for LISTEN!
2015 Refined and rebuilt Dripolator for LISTEN!
2015 Installed The Dripolator in GAUGE performance-installation at Brighton Festival
2015 Revived and re-presented Drumming Bunnies (AKA HomeBoys) for LISTEN! 
2012 Re-designed and re-built Drum Machine, electric mechanical drumming instrument
2012 Designed and built Aerodrome, collection of flying toys that produce sound
2012 Designed and built The Chimes, wind activated chime and guitar installation
2012 Designed and built Wind Up Corner, interactive children’s installation
2012 Designed and built Tin Can Telephones, interactive children’s installation
2012 Designed and built HopScotch Stomp, amplified boxes for child and adult play 
2007 Designed and built The Dripolator, sound installation featuring amplified melting ice drips
2003 Designed and built Drum Machine – plays drums with a series of pulleys and sticks
2003 Designed and supervised construction of the Musical Fence, Winton, Qld.
1999 Designed and built Spinning Horn installation for tape loop and tin-can horn
1998 Designed and made Flying Harmonica and Conduit Whistle instruments for use in performance
1992 – 97 Developed, designed, built and played String Can instruments for use in performance
1993 Co-designed children’s Water | Sound bridge for Linden Gallery (with Stephen Hennessy)
1989 Designed, built and played Salad Bowl Drums (a version of African Water Drums)
1984 Designed, built and played Bowl Chimes for use in performance and recording 

a r r a n g i n g  a n d  p r o d u c t i o n 
2020 Edited full show video of ‘Flight Memory’ by Sandra France to produce 6 minute promo 
2018 Composed music and edited video footage to produce 50sec trailer for POLARIS, Holly&Ted
2016 Produced 2min radio edit of Furious Folly from many hours of live tapes. Piece played on BBC radio 3
2008 – 13 worked as studio engineer and producer at Run Stop Sound, including voice over, audio post production TV and radio advertising, film score composition and artist recordings.
2010 recorded, mixed and produced Songs for Somebodies, Bernadette Robinson, Run Stop Sound
2009 Producer, Classic Ennio Morricone – Live CD, Spaghetti Western Orchestra commercial release
2008 Arranged The Little Drummer Boy for Tripod Christmas Album and conducted the session orchestra
2008 Produced Tripod Christmas Album, Adelphia Studio – booked players and conducted sessions
2007 Arranged the music of Ennio Morricone for performance by the Spaghetti Western Orchestra
2003 Arranged the music of Ennio Morricone for performance by the Ennio Morricone Experience

a w a r d s  a n d  s c h o l a r s h i p s
2020 Made in Scotland grant – inclusion in curated program for Edinburgh Fringe 2020 through Creative Scotland
2000 Arts Victoria project grant to support attendance at 4th Performing Arts Market, Adelaide
1995 Research Funding from La Trobe University to assist travel to Percussive Arts Society Convention, USA
1995 Rehearsal/Development grant for Graeme Leak String Quartet, Australia Council
1991 Creative Development grant, Australia Council
1991 Jacobena Angliss Fellowship (ASTRA Chamber Music Society)
1985 Australia Council overseas fellowship
1985 Alfred White Trust Fund (to assist study in the USA)
1978 Frank Hutchens award for excellence (Conservatorium High School)
1978 Premier Instrumentalist, A.S.C.M. course (Conservatorium High School)

c o m p o s i t i o n s
SAVED Solo show consisting of many original works2019-20
Spirit Rising Girgarre ‘Junkestra’ of specially created instruments 2018
Water rhythm section, lead vocals and backing vocals 2016
Say Something multi drums, horn speaker and mini kbd (solo) 2015
Raising the Roof – Finale for massed community ensembles and choirs 2012
Drumming the Light for drummers of any number 2011
Exhibit B piano and tuba OR piano solo 2011 
Ringing the Changes five aerial bell ringers and percussion duo 2010
Everything in Front of Me SSA children’s choir and percussion quartet 2010 
ABAF Quartet percussion quartet 2007
Percussion Construction Team percussion quartet and building site workers 2007
Hello, a ringtone fantasy percussion quartet 2007 
Eavesdropping bass, drums, kbd/horns 2006 
In the Pocket (interludes) metal, rocks 2006 
The Coorong voices and instruments, flexible 2006 
Finale massed percussion forces – adaptations possible 2006 
Under the Bonnet for classic cars, bass and drums 2005 
Funky Fence Winton musical fence 2005 
Incredible Hulls ‘orchestra’ of boats, brass band and drummers 2005, revised 2013 
Museum Walk solo performer, shoes 2004 
Welcome solo multi drums and pre-recorded accompaniment 2004 
Hullabaloo choreographed SSA children’s choir, pre-recorded accompaniment 2004 
Wonderful Winton Winton musical fence 2003 
Sound Hunters for massed children around a pool or pond 2002 
Sixty Seconds for Astra choir of any number 2001
Water with my Water choir of any number 2001
Happy New Ears ensemble of performance makers 2001
Axe Lyrical for wood choppers and drummer 1999
Percussion Maintenance Team quartet of builder-percussionists 1999
Honky Tonk for antique cars and trad jazz band 1999 
Noise Medley junk-n-found noise quartet (can double parts) 1998 
Oradio audio for radio broadcast 1997 
Fanfare for Darebin mobile brass band with extra percussion 1997 
House Music – ASTRA small groups of roving front-of-house vocalists 1996
Cup of Tea SATB choir and percussionist 1996 
All or Nothing Really audio for radio broadcast 1995 
Parade stomping solo performer with string can 1994
Three Four Five string quartet and voices 1994
Enid Thinks Rebecca Misses Tom stomping solo performer with string can 1994 
Sitting Standing Kneeling on one Leg choreographed string quartet 1994 
Do This stomping and singing string quartet 1994 
Overture for Art and Waste flute, drums and remote flashing light 1993 
The River Festival for drums and percussion conducted by strobe light (for Southgate Opening) 1992 
Panadol performer and pre-recorded accompaniment 1991
Nobody Knows marimba and melodeon, one player 1991 
I Love Jazz solo marimba and voice 1991
Yo Yo Man marimba, feet and voice, one player 1991 
Water water bowl, gongs, salad bowls 1990 
Turtle Soup percussion quartet 1990
In the Morning marimba and pre-recorded accompaniment 1991  
Sink Symphony kitchen percussion and pre-recorded accompaniment 1990 
Drumsong percussion quartet 1989
Rubadub (for Synergy) percussion quartet 1989
Briefcase amplified office worker 1989, revised 1991 
Spirit Dance marimba and pre-recorded accompaniment 1989 
And Now for the News percussion with pre-recorded accompaniment 1983
Just Testing multi-percussion solo 1978

c o n t a c t 
graeme@graemeleak.com  |  w.w.w.graemeleak.com  |  +44 7806 683 393

< home