Gemma Peacocke


Gemma Peacocke is a US-based composer from New Zealand. She combines acoustic instruments and voices with electronics, and her work often has a sociopolitical focus. Her multimedia song cycle, Waves + Lines, based on Eliza Griswold’s book I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan, premiered in June 2017 at Roulette Intermedium in Brooklyn with the support of a commission from the Jerome L Green Foundation. It will be premiered by Rubiks at the Melbourne Recital Centre on 20 April, 2018. Her cantata Pacific, for chamber choir, piano four-hands and electronics was premiered by the Tudor Consort at the National Cathedral in Wellington, New Zealand, in September 2017 with the support of a PADET grant.

Gemma was the Creative New Zealand Edwin Carr Scholar for 2014 and 2015 towards her studies with Julia Wolfe at NYU Steinhardt, and a 2015 Bang on a Can composition fellow. She is currently a Ph.D. candidate in composition at Princeton University.

Composer website:

Featured Works

Waves + Lines: Father, for soprano, piano, double bass, percussion, fixed electronics

Waves + Lines is a multimedia song cycle for soprano, electronics and chamber ensemble adapted from Afghan female folk poems collected and translated in an award-winning book, I Am the Beggar of the World: Landays from Contemporary Afghanistan, by journalist and poet Eliza Griswold.

Landays are poems secretly shared by women in Afghanistan. They comprise a single rhyming couplet on subjects like love, grief, home, and war. The ultraconservative regime of the Taliban has meant that the lives of Afghan women are largely invisible to the outside world. Landays offer a surprising and vivid glimpse into this secret world.

Featured in New Zealand Waves (Special Edition 2018)