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Jenny McLeod


Jenny McLeod, ONZM, was an eclectic composer known for orchestral and operatic works like Earth and Sky and Hōhepa. She was also one of the first women to compose for the screen in Aotearoa. McLeod became a music professor at Victoria University at only 29. Her soundtracks included Barry Barclay's The Neglected Miracle and song-heavy TV series Cuckooland. Named Best Film Soundtrack at the 1984 NZ Music Awards, The Silent One combined Pacific drums and chants with an orchestra. McLeod developed close connections to Ngāti Rangi, and wrote hymns for Māori choirs. She died at 81 on 28 November 2022. Photo: by Gareth Watkins        

She likened the differences between film music and concert music to the distinctions between poetry and prose; film music, in Jenny's view, presented composers with the opportunity to strip back their writing to the barest gestures. Author Norman Meehan on Jenny McLeod, in his 2023 book Jenny McLeod: A Life in Music, page 216