Music of John Shephard

Photo: Esther Shephard

Wagga Wagga-based composer and musician John S. Shephard has been in the music and theatre scene in a variety of roles for the last 45 years. In high school, Shephard contributed original compositions, including lyrics and musical arrangements for the cast, chorus and orchestra, to his school's mish-mash production of 'The Wizard of Oz' meets 'The Wiz'. In the 1970s he established, owned and operated one of the first original recording studios in the Riverina - John Shephard Media Productions (JSMP). He composed, performed, and recorded dozens of original advertising songs on local television and radio, and regularly played with local bands Duke and Low Profile. The 1980 ballet documentary 'Stepping Out' featured Shephard performing his own compositions as part of the soundtrack.

During the 1980s Shephard worked as an editor/producer/director in local and national television, while also composing and recording various soundtracks including for the Australian version of 'The World's Dumbest Criminals' and the theme for TCN9's magazine program 'Eye on Australia'. Shephard's music for the 'Video Flix' commercial was awarded a National Television Advertising Award in 1986. Shephard also composed and performed the soundtrack for a television documentary with the Seven Network's premier travel/adventure program, 'The World Around Us'.

Shephard moved to Wagga Wagga in 1991, taking on the family stonemasonry business while raising a young family. There he actively engaged with a range of young people who were involved in a vast array of musical endeavours including an initiative of his own, 'Youth Express', that sought to promote music and performance in professional environments for young local musicians. He continued to perform professionally around the local region throughout this time with his bands, Jumpin' Jive and Swing Set. At this time, Shephard also focused on creating and recording his own music utilising the state-of-the-art computer-based music systems of the day.

In 2009 he completed his book 'Saxophone Stunners', a collection of 12 original graded pieces for alto or tenor saxophone, and six of these pieces are included in the current AMEB syllabus for saxophone. He composed Show and Tell (2010) for flute ensemble and piano, and the world premiere took place at the Riverina Composers and Songwriters Festival at the RCM in Wagga Wagga to great acclaim. His daughter, flutist Eliza Shephard, premiered his work The Revenant for Glissando Headjoint and piano at the RCM in 2019 with pianist Alex Waite. His piece The Brindabellas won Highly Commended at the 2020 Flute Society of NSW Composition Competition. He was also commissioned by the Kapooka Army Band to write a duo, Fire's On for piccolo and tuba, for its newest members of the band.

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