Luka Venter (they/them) is an award-winning composer and conductor from Te Whanganui-a-Tara | Wellington, currently based in London, where they are training in operatic composition and conducting; studying as one of three composers admitted to the Guildhall School of Music and Drama's Opera Makers programme, in association with the Royal Opera House.
Their music has been variously workshopped, performed, and recorded by Te Tira Pūoro | the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealand String Quartet, the Metropolitan Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, and period ensemble The Night Watch. July 2023 will see the world première of a new chamber opera Lanternfish at London's Barbican Centre, commissioned by the Guildhall School, as well as the world première of Ulysses, a dramatic scene for solo baritone.
Luka has twice been a finalist of the NZSO Todd Corporation Young Composer Awards, and won the overall award in 2018 with their orchestral work Primeval Light, and was again a finalist in 2019 with ts'onot - both works exploring the intersection of human language and human culture with the natural world and alternately, its degradation or its protection.
As a conductor, Luka held the Assistant Conductor position with Orchestra Wellington (2019-21) and concurrently, was a conductor in the inaugural conducting branch of the NZSO Fellowship Programme, conducting several masterclasses with the NZSO National Youth Orchestra with Hamish McKeich and Gemma New, assisting the latter with the combined NZSO and NYO, and took part in a masterclass with the NZSO under Miguel Harth-Bedoya. In 2021, Luka led the NZSO NYO in performances of music by Stravinsky and Leonie Holmes in Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland, and in Pōneke. In 2022, Luka conducted the Slovak Radio Symphony Orchestra in works by Bruckner and Bartok as an inaugural participant in the European Conducting Masterclass with Martin Sieghart.
Luka's work and training as a composer and conductor has been supported by the New Zealand Opera Foundation Trust, the Todd Trust, the Deane Endowment Trust, Jack C. Richards, and the Lankhuyzen/Whetu-Kairangi Masonic Trust.
Their work as a conductor and composer is fleshed out by an extensive professional practice as a singer, appearing as a soloist with NZO, Orchestra Wellington, the Wellington Concert Orchestra, Days Bay Opera, and engaged to develop contemporary opera through the Auckland Arts Festival. Recently, Luka transitioned from a previous life as a tenor into a new journey as a countertenor.
Their creative practice is also bolstered by a rich practice as a creative writer, specialising in poetry, having trained at the International Institute of Modern Letters (IIML) under Therese Lloyd and writers from the Iowa Writers Workshop. Most recently their poetry has been published in Poetry Live's 2021 Anthology This Bright Menagerie, and in 2022 they appeared as a guest poet in Sam Duckor-Jones' Kreutzer Sonata at the Verb Festival.
Photo credit: Ben Reason
for string quartet, 5m