Jessica Ipkendanz - known by her professional name Jessica Danz - is an award-winning performer and composer, bringing together contemporary classical and folk-noir elements in an experimental and virtuosic style. A vocalist, versatile multi-instrumentalist, improviser and visual artist, she writes and performs solo material for voice, violin and piano as well as creating ensemble works, live scores for theatre, dance and silent film, and solo interdisciplinary works.
Born in Perth, Western Australia, Jessica had her first piano lessons at the age of seven, and began violin lessons the following year. She was accepted into full time tertiary study on the violin at the WA Conservatorium of Music at the age of fifteen, where she studied with Alan Bonds and Pal Eder. She continued studying the piano privately with Madam Alice Carrard.
On completing her degree at the University of Western Australia studying with Paul Wright, she was awarded the Vose Concerto Prize, the Edith Cowan prize for most outstanding performance graduate, 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, and subsequently spent several years working and performing in both Perth and Melbourne. In 2002 she began to write works she could perform as a soloist, as well as creating ensemble works for the eclectic instrumentation of the Pi Ensemble. The work Mosquito War Dance was premiered by Pi at the Perth Concert Hall in 2003, and in 2004 Jessica recorded her first solo album Love Song, touring her solo works in Australia, Japan, Germany, Denmark and Italy.
Jessica has worked extensively in theatre, and collaborated for several years with Night Train Productions as a musician, composer and visual artist on Fyodor’s Demons, Raising the Dead and The Kreutzer Sonata, receiving a Green Room Award in 2008 for Best Sound Design in Independent Theatre. She has also performed with a diverse range of ensembles, including Trio Golder, The Eclectic Collective, Duo Ipkendanz-Yong, the Pi Ensemble and the Yarra Trio. In 2009 she was awarded the Corinna d’Hage Mayer Memorial Scholarship for Postgraduate Study 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 throughout Australia and presenting several solo exhibitions.
Since 2014 Jessica has focused on the exploration of an integrated artistic practice, studying aspects of voice, text, movement and improvisation with internationally respected practitioners including Kristin Linklater and Alice Cummins. In mid-2015 she travelled to Scotland, performing in diverse locations including the islands of Arran, Lewis, Harris and Hirta, St Kilda. In 2016 she was awarded an Artflight Grant by the Western Australian Department of Culture and the Arts to pursue several months of creative development in Europe, undertaking residencies and presenting solo performances in England, Scotland and the Faroe Islands.
After moving to Scotland she was based on the Isle of Lewis in the Outer Hebrides, recently relocating to a small village near Glasgow. In October 2017 she completed a composition commission for An Lanntair's Faclan Festival, writing and performing a live piano score for a 35 minute section of the early Icelandic documentary Ísland í Lifandi Myndum (Iceland in Moving Pictures), an event which was praised by Scottish journalist Jan Patience as one of her '2017 Art Highlights'.
In November Jessica travelled to Western Australia, where she was artist and musician in residence at the Vancouver Arts Centre, presenting a solo exhibition and a performance. Following the recent commission to create a new score for Ísland í Lifandi Myndum, she has been invited to include the work as part of the exhibition SSA & VAS TOGETHER at the Royal Scottish Academy.
Jessica is one of the recipients of the Muriel Spark 100 Fund: Endless Different Ways Grants awarded by Creative Scotland, and will be writing a new work for string quartet inspired by Spark's poetry. The completed work will be premiered at this year's Faclan Festival at An Lanntair. Other 2018 projects include the release of a new solo album, and the ongoing development of several solo interdisciplinary projects combining performance, composition and visual art.