Zakiya Leeming

RPS Composer 2021 | Commission for Riot Ensemble

About Zakiya

My music is often informed by science as I am drawn to investigating the phenomena behind our realities. With an interest in physics, chemistry and medicine, I have collaborated with scientists and heath data researchers across many fields. Informed by my own personal experience, my work often considers how to bring arts and science together for change.

I began writing at an early age and received my first performances from the Launceston Youth String Quartet and Tasmanian Summer School Orchestra. Awarded the Examiner Newspaper Scholarship in Contemporary Music, I completed my degree at the University of Tasmania where I studied composition with Dr David Sudmalis.

After relocating to Manchester, I completed my Masters degree at the Royal Northern College of Music with professors Adam Gorb and Emily Howard. Highlights included commissions for the Aurora Percussion Duo, New Music North West Festival, Victoria Baths Project and the Christopher Rouse Festival. Following my Masters degree, I was commissioned by the Bury Choral Society to write a piece celebrating their history.

Whilst undertaking my PhD at the RNCM with Professors David Horne and Emily Howard, I devised and managed two major events bringing health data researchers and doctors together with composers to create music informed by their work. Some of my previous commissions include Explore Ensemble, Psappha, Aurora Percussion Duo, Bury Choral Society and Future Music Festival amongst others. A work for Ensemble Recherche will be premiered in December 2021.

My primary musical influences include Ligeti, Messiaen and Xenakis, as well as Haas, Saunders and Walshe.


  • I recently led a project with the International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC4C) with Sage member Professor Calum Semple OBE as well as seven doctors and researchers at institutions across the UK. The project resulted in a piece informed by their experience for the doctors and researchers as performers, as well as a short documentary providing insight and a historical record of their experience working on the frontline of the pandemic.
  • In 2018 I devised and managed an event with Connected Health Cities pairing myself and 3 other composers with health data researchers that culminated in a sold-out event at the Manchester Museum.
  • Awards include Examiner Newspaper Scholarship, Dean’s Award for Excellence with Honours, Soroptimists International Manchester Award in Composition, The Edward Hecht Prize and a Gold Medal in composition received during my Masters degree.
  • My work has been featured by The Guardian, BBC R4’s The World Tonight & Lancashire Life magazine.

Find out more

If you are interested in finding out more about Zakiya, hearing and keeping up to date with her work, take a look at her website and social media below: