Zach Kleanthous

Zachary Kleanthous

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background?

I am a tenor, conductor, composer and historical keyboards player from Essex, with special interests in Historical Musicology. I started singing when I was eighteen and quickly became involved with choral music. I am a regular soloist at the Suffolk Villages Festival and with Leeds Baroque. My undergraduate studies were completed here at Leeds. I am also a professional music editor. My editions have been performed by groups such as The Parley of Instruments and Colchester Chamber Choir, and at the Cambridge Early Music Summer School.

What made you want to apply to your course and to Leeds?

Until 2016, I had not intended to study at university. I had been working as an assistant to Peter Holman (preparing editions of early music for performance) who recommended that I consider studying music at Leeds. I arrived here in 2017 and immediately felt welcome. All staff within the School of Music are fantastic. My experience studying at undergraduate level here was what encouraged me to apply to study at postgraduate level.

What is it that makes you passionate about your area of study?

I really enjoy discovering unrecorded music from the past and creating modern editions of it. I find it so exciting to perform music which might not have been heard for centuries.

What aspects of the course did you enjoy the most?  

I have really enjoyed self-lead research, which makes up two-thirds of my credits this year. Aesthetic Theory, which I approached as an absolute novice, has been perhaps the most meaningful module I have taken during my time at Leeds. Martin Iddon’s teaching on this module has been superb.

What would you say about the learning facilities in your School and at the University in general?

The School of Music has a selection of historical keyboard instruments which I made the most of: two harpsichords, a virginals and a chamber organ. There is plenty of rehearsal space in the basement. The Brotherton Library staff were particularly helpful at the start of the year - I was unable to access the microfilm I required for an editorial project, so Beth Parry photographed over seventy images for me. Document Supply is useful for obtaining texts which aren’t available in the library, and The British Library at Boston Spa is a short drive from Leeds.

What other activities were available for students to take part in outside of their studies, and which ones did you try out yourself?

There is a wealth of diverse activities on offer to cater for everyone. I have been a member of LUUMS since I started at Leeds. I conducted LUUMS Chamber Choir between 2018-2020, and I am currently the inaugural Postgraduate Representative on the executive committee. During my undergraduate studies I was also a member of LUU Opera Society: taking three principal roles; MD’ing one production and serving as Workshop and Development Secretary on the committee. In 2019 I played Pirelli in LUU Music Theatre Society’s production of Sweeney Todd.

What do you plan to do now you’ve finished your course, and how do you think the skills and knowledge you’ve developed at Leeds will help with these plans?

I will be staying here to commence my doctoral studies in October: researching the use of Domine salvum fac regem in France, under the supervision of Bryan White and Clive McClelland. The majority of my work this year has been self-lead project work, which will have prepared me well for my PhD.

What would you say to anyone thinking of applying to your course?

This course is designed to cater for all types of musicologists. Here you have space to explore and specialise in whichever strands of musicology you wish to. I would recommend it to anyone who wants to build upon their undergraduate music studies, supported by expert academic staff.