A PhD at Princeton for NZSM grad

Gemma Peacocke will commence a PhD at Princeton University in mid September, following in the footsteps of fellow New Zealander and NZSM graduate Leila Adu.

Gemma Peacocke

Gemma was apparently walking through Lincoln Center Plaza when she received the phone call letting her know she was accepted. She says it ‘genuinely felt like winning the lottery’.

Princeton admits four PhD. candidates in composition each year and funds each candidate for five years.

Gemma has been in New York for the last three years, studying towards a Master of Music at NYU with Julia Wolfe for the first two years (with the support of the Edwin Carr Foundation and Creative New Zealand) and has been freelancing and working in education at the New York Philharmonic since graduating.

She says she appreciates her study at the New Zealand School of Music prior to her move to the US.

‘I'm so grateful for my time at the New Zealand School of Music and in particular for the mentorship of John Psathas who has continued to encourage me to pursue composition long after I finished studying with him.‘

Her song cycle, Waves + Lines, for soprano, chamber ensemble, and electronics premiered in Brooklyn in June and was previewed in the New York Times. The song cycle sets a form of Afghan women's folk poetry called landays which were collected and translated in Eliza Griswold's award-winning book I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan. Waves + Lines will have its Australian premiere in Melbourne in April next year and she is hoping it will be performed in New Zealand in the next year or two. 

Gemma will be in New Zealand in early September for the premiere of a new choral work she’s written called Pacific for the Tudor Consort. Written for chamber choir, piano four-hands and electronics, the piece sets the words of three well-known New Zealand peace advocates: David Lange, Te Whiti, and Archibald Baxter.