Jack Body (1944-2015) studied at Auckland University, in Cologne and at the Institute of Sonology, Utrecht. During 1976-77 he was a guest lecturer at the Akademi Musik Indonesia, Yogyakarta, and from 1980 to 2010 he lectured at the Victoria University of Wellington School of Music, now Te Kōkī New Zealand School of Music.
His music covers most genres, including solo and chamber music, orchestral music, music-theatre, music for dance and film as well as electroacoustic music. He also worked in experimental photography and computer-controlled sound-image installations, having received commissions from several public galleries. A fascination with the music and cultures of Asia, particularly Indonesia, was a strong influence on his music. As an ethnomusicologist his published recordings include music from Indonesia and China. One landmark publication he edited was South of the Clouds (Ode Records, 2003), field recordings of instrumental music of the minorities of South West China of Prof Zhang Xingrong (Yunnan Art Institute).
Recordings of his music include Suara (Ode), electroacoustic compositions using field recordings from Indonesia, Sacred and Profane (Ode), three large scale works for voices, Composer Portrait: Jack Body (Wai-te-ata Music) with compositions ranging from 1968 to 2002, and Pulse (Rattle), a series of five works based on transcriptions from traditional non-Western musics. Pulse won the 2002 New Zealand Music Award for Best Classical CD. Wai-te-ata Music Press released a Composer Portrait of his music in 2003 and releases on the Rattle and Atoll labels of chamber music are imminent.
As a musical entrepreneur he had wide experience including the organisation of a series of Sonic Circuses, 12-hour simultaneous multi-venue music marathons featuring New Zealand music. In 2002 he curated a five-concert festival of New Zealand music at the Ijsbreker in Amsterdam. For 33 years he was the editor of Wai-te-ata Music Press, which publishes scores of New Zealand music, and he edited over twenty CDs of music by New Zealand composers.
In the promotion of the music and musicians of the Asia-Pacific region Jack Body was artistic director for the Asia-Pacific Festivals and Conferences in 1984, 1992 and 2007, ten-day events that juxtaposed traditional and contemporary music of New Zealand and neighbouring countries. He travelled widely in Asia, particularly Indonesia, the Philippines, Korea, Japan and China, and since 1981 was actively involved in the Asian Composers League, serving on its executive committee. He was the guest of numerous music festivals in Asia and arranged numerous visits to New Zealand by leading Asian composers such as Yuji Takahashi, Tan Dun, Qu Xiao-Song and Chinary Ung.
Jack Body specialised in cross-cultural composition, both in his own music as well as in his teaching. At Victoria University of Wellington he established a residency for traditional musicians to work collaboratively with composition staff and students. These guests included, from Indonesia, Agus Supriawan, Dody Ekagustdiman (both from West Java), Rafiloza bin Rafii (Minangkabau), Wayan Yudane (Bali), and, from Kalinga, North Philippines, Benny Sokkong. These residencies generated new compositions, recorded for broadcast and CD publication. In his own composition he integrated other musical cultures as in Campur Sari for Javanese musician and string quartet, and Polish Dances, for clarinet and Javanese gamelan.
As the manager of Victoria University's Gamelan Padhang Moncar, he stimulated the creation of new compositions, which were recorded and broadcast. These included works for gamelan and piano, gamelan and orchestra, gamelan and organ, gamelan and choral plainsong etc. In 2000, to celebrate 25 years of gamelan in New Zealand, he co-organised BEAT, an International Gamelan Festival with over 100 overseas participants.