Pepe Becker - composer - biography

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Pepe Becker: Composer

Pepe's discography *** Pepe's biography

Pepe Becker began her musical life in Nelson, singing in the Cathedral Choir, taking lead roles in school musical productions and playing oboe in local orchestras. She studied Composition at Victoria University of Wellington from 1985 to 1987 under the tuition of Jack Body, David Farquhar and Ross Harris, graduating with a Bmus. During her years at university she was also active as an oboist and singer; one of her first year compositions won third prize in the 1985 VUW Composers Competition; and one of her third year choral compositions, Wind and Rain, was performed by the VUW Chamber Choir at the 1988 Sonic Circus organised by Jack Body, and subsequently by Cantoris in 1990.

Pepe then focused on singing and teaching, travelling to Britain and Holland, 1991-1993, to further her studies of early music singing in particular. During this time she was commissioned by Helen Bowater (then Composer-in-Residence at the Nelson School of Music) to write a piece for a concert in Nelson (her home town): this work, In Queen Beatrix’s Garden was performed there in 1993, just before Pepe returned to New Zealand from The Hague.

Upon her return to New Zealand Pepe focused mainly on performing (setting up her vocal consort Baroque Voices in 1994) and raising her first two children. It wasn’t until late 1999 that she rediscovered her ‘composition muse’ and began to write again with great fervour. In September 2000 the fruits of her newly found inspiration, along with several other works written between 1983 (when she was still at school) and 1992 (in Holland), were performed in a concert entitled “Many Waters”: a culmination of over 15 years of music writing.

In 2001 Pepe wrote several other new works, including Introit, commissioned by the Choir of Wellington’s Cathedral of St Paul and performed by them in Britain and Ireland in 2002. Being a singer, Pepe has a special empathy for writing for the voice: most of her compositions include one or more voices, often ‘partnered’ with other melodic wind instruments and/or percussion. Most of her recent work has been for unaccompanied vocal consorts or choirs, with the exception of Scorpio II: From the far point of the rising of the sun…, for oboe and soprano, written for performance by Robert Orr and herself in a Baroque Voices concert in Wellington’s Cathedral of St Paul in May 2005.

comments from newspaper reviewers, on concert performances of Pepe’s works, include:

"...a mass setting by choir director Pepe Becker: a very impressive example of, and a splendid performance of, an engagingly original work."
The Dominion Post, July 2006

“…imaginative works…”

“…an innovative concert…”

“…the sound pictures created were ethereally lovely…”

Pepe's page at SOUNZ

listen to Pepe's compositions

from cd "Many Waters"

tracks to come

from cd "How Great is the Pleasure"

Taurus 1: Night and Morning

from cd "Massive!"

Mass of the False Relation:
Agnus Dei

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© 2002-2006 Pepe Becker
photo © Justine Lord, Wellington
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last updated: 5 December, 2006