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Gemma Peacocke

Brooklyn, NY         

Art-pop* composer Gemma Peacocke grew up in Hamilton, New Zealand. She was given a violin for Christmas one year, and like many children, preferred improvising to practising. She has a particular interest in cross-art form and multimedia projects and she loves to collaborate with theatre practitioners, writers, and artists. Her first album, Waves & Lines, which sets poems by Afghan women, was released on New Amsterdam in March 2019. Waves & Lines has been performed at Roulette Intermedium and National Sawdust in New York, the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., and Australia’s Melbourne Recital Centre.

Gemma is co-founder of the Kinds of Kings composer collective. Described by The New Yorker as “distinguished young creators who work in diverse styles,” the collective focuses on amplifying and advocating for underheard voices and producing immersive and wondrous concerts. Kinds of Kings is an Artist-in-Residence with National Sawdust for the 2019-2020 season. 

Gemma’s music has been performed and commissioned by the Rochester Philharmonic, PUBLIQuartet, cellist Nick Photinos, Third Coast Percussion, Rubiks Collective, ~Nois, the Furies, and Alarm Will Sound. Upcoming projects include a collaboration with Irish-American pianist Isabelle O’Connell, a new piece for Melbourne’s Rubiks Collective, and a chamber opera with playwright Anchuli Felicia King and director Benita de Wit. A graduate of the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington, and NYU Steinhardt, Gemma is a PhD candidate in composition at Princeton University. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband George and attack poodle Mila. 



 *John Schaeffer, New Sounds

Death Wish – for percussion quartet – performed by Third Coast Percussion

I wrote Death Wish after watching a short film featuring New Zealand survivors of sexual assault. One of the survivors, Hinewirangi Kohu-Morgan, spoke about the out-of-control spiralling of her life for many years and how she developed what she called a death wish. In the piece I thought about the spooling and unspooling of energy and how we are all bound and driven by forces both within and beyond ourselves.

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Dwalm – for saxophone quartet – performed by ~Nois

There is a strangeness to the duality of the word “dwalm”. It is an old Scottish word with two meanings: a stupor or daydream (as in the phrase “in a dwalm”), and to faint or fall ill. It comes from the Old English word “dwolma”, which means “confusion”. What is strange is that a daydream is such a light and lovely drifting of the mind, whereas fainting or falling ill is a sudden wrenching. Perhaps though, they are different surfacings of the same darkness.

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In A Snowstorm of Moths – for solo violin and live electronics – performed by Adrianne Munden-Dixon

Lullabies are private songs between mothers and babies, yet in every culture there are well-known, enduring lullabies that are shared generation after generation, some for hundreds of years. There is a darkness to many lullabies — with their mournful melodies and macabre lyrics — and a shared understanding between women, perhaps, that in this private space it is possible to speak of the unspeakable; “to sing the unsung”.

For FK, with love.

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