Jessica Ipkendanz - known by her professional name Jessica Danz - is an award-winning performer and composer. A vocalist and versatile multi-instrumentalist, she brings together contemporary classical and folk-noir elements in an experimental, virtuosic style. Known for her finely crafted, haunting songwriting, she writes and performs solo material for combinations of voice, violin and piano, as well as creating ensemble works and live scores for theatre, dance and silent film.
Born in Perth, Western Australia, Jessica began piano lessons at the age of seven and violin lessons the following year. She was accepted into full time tertiary study at the WA Conservatorium of Music at the age of fifteen, majoring on the violin.
Completing her degree at the University of Western Australia, Jessica was awarded the Edith Cowan prize for most outstanding performance graduate, the Vose Concerto Prize, and was a National String Finalist in the ABC Young Performers Competition. In 1999 she was awarded a full scholarship to attend the Advanced Performance Programme at the Australian National Academy of Music, then going on to explore a wide range of freelance work including solo and chamber music, recording, improvising, teaching and composing. In 2002 Jessica turned more seriously to composition, writing a series of solo works, and creating ensemble works for the Perth-based Pi Ensemble. Mosquito War Dance was premiered at the Perth Concert Hall in 2003, and in 2004 Jessica completed her first solo album, touring the works in Australia, Japan, Germany, Denmark and Italy. Between 2005 and 2009, Jessica performed extensively as a chamber musician, and worked in theatre as a performer and composer, receiving a Green Room Award in 2008 for Best Sound Design in Independent Theatre. She has also worked with a diverse range of chamber ensembles, including Duo Ipkendanz-Yong, the Pi Ensemble and the Yarra Trio. In 2009 she was awarded the Corinna d’Hage Mayer Memorial Scholarship at Melbourne University, completing a Master of Music Performance in 2010. She then spent several years focusing on the further development of her visual art practice, undertaking residencies and exhibiting locally and nationally.
By 2014 Jessica began to return to music and performance, travelling through Europe and Scandinavia in 2015 and 2016 to undertake residencies and skills development, and documented a series of live performances in locations as diverse as mountains, sailing ships, sea caves and ancient churches. Moving to Scotland in 2017, Jessica was based in the Outer Hebrides, where she was commissioned by An Lanntair's Faclan Festival to create a live piano score for the early Icelandic documentary Ísland í Lifandi Myndum. The film and recorded score were then installed as part of the 2018 exhibition SSA & VAS TOGETHER at the Royal Scottish Academy.
A recent recipient of a Creative Scotland Muriel Spark 100 grant, Jessica is currently writing a new work for violin and string quartet inspired by a selection of Spark's poetry, which will be performed at the Scottish Poetry Library in November.