Te Ara pays tribute to Jack Body

Jack Body (left) with gamelan teacher Joko Sutrisno, about 1988 (pic: Victoria University of Wellington, Image Services)

Jack Body (left) with gamelan teacher Joko Sutrisno, about 1988 (pic: Victoria University of Wellington, Image Services)

Those of us who work behind the scenes at Te Ara are saddened to hear of Jack Body’s death. He was a warm supporter of our project, generously supplying images and allowing one of our staff to photograph his well-known gamelan orchestra, Padhang Moncar, at St Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Wellington back in 2004.

As one of New Zealand’s foremost composers and university teachers he naturally features in a number of our entries. His major compositions, many drawing on Eastern influences, are described in our entry on Composers, which also notes his unwavering support of other writers of music. His involvement in musical theatre composition gets a mention in Opera and musical theatre, and his composing of music for voices is referred to in Choral music and choirs. And the Media art entry describes his organisation of Sonic Circus festivals in Wellington from 1974.

My favourite reference to him comes in the Classical musicians entry. There we have a video of pianist Stephen de Pledge playing Body’s composition ‘The street where I live’ – and the composer/narrator is listening with obvious delight in the audience. This quirky, poignant piece talks about Body’s deep affection for his long-time home in Aro Valley, Wellington. It is a fitting coda to the life of a great New Zealander, and a staunch Wellingtonian.

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