Dr David Lisik

Dr Dave Lisik profile picture

Senior Lecturer, Jazz Theory/Composition School of Music


Teaching in 2020


BSc Mary, MMus Northern Iowa, DMA Memphis


  • Senior Lecturer, Jazz - Composition and Arrangement
  • Senior Lecturer, Composition


Canadian composer and trumpeter, Dr David Lisik teaches jazz composition, arranging, theory, and pedagogy at the New Zealand School of Music, Victoria University of Wellington.

Dave’s diverse portfolio of compositions and arrangements includes more than 400 works for jazz orchestra, small jazz groups, wind ensemble, orchestra, electro-acoustic combinations, chamber groups, and instrumental and vocal soloists. His music has been performed and recorded by outstanding musicians including Alex Sipiagin, Donny McCaslin, Dick Oatts, Tim Hagans, Seamus Blake, Charles Pillow, Bob Sheppard, Dave Kikoski, Luis Bonilla, John Fedchock, Boris Kozlov, Matt Wilson, Donald Edwards, Steve Houghton, Marvin Stamm, Bill Mays, Carl Allen, Kirk Whalum, The Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra (Australia), Wellington Jazz Orchestra, Ron Paley Big Band (Canada), Memphis Jazz Orchestra, University of Northern Iowa Jazz Band One, University of Memphis Jazz Orchestra and many university, high school and middle school concert and jazz groups.

Dave is a trustee of the New Zealand Jazz Foundation, co-ordinates the annual National Jazz Workshops, the National Jazz Educators Workshops, and co-directs the New Zealand Youth Jazz Orchestra and Wellington Youth Jazz Orchestra, both with his NZSM colleague, Rodger Fox. At NZSM, he founded and produces the annual NZSM Jazz Festival and created and teaches the school's first course in Jazz Pedagogy.

His recent recording releases include Machaut Man and a Superman Hat,Walkabout – A Place for Visions, Coming Through Slaughter – The Bolden Legend,Students in Exile, Ancient Astronaut Theory, Donated By Cantor Fitzgerald, Rail 16,The Curse of the Queen’s Diamond, Hurricane Ophelia, and Bono in the Temple.

His piano-less quartet, Pawn Farm has three CD releases in production. Three tracks from Dave’s CDs were included in Richard Nunns publication, Te Ara Puoro, a book about traditional Maori instruments. The Marvin Stamm Project, Dave’s book of 24 transcribed trumpet solos is published by Charles Colin. He has also engineered and produced classical recordings for Inbal Megiddo, Jian Liu, Martin Riseley, and Diedre Irons.

[Many of these projects, and others on which Dave has worked as producer or engineer, are available as CDs or online tracks through Rattle Records, a division of Victoria University Publications.]

As a trumpeter, Dave has performed as a member of the Jazz Orchestra of the Delta, Dave Lisik Orchestra, Wellington Jazz Orchestra, Ron Paley Big Band, Memphis Jazz Orchestra, Memphis King Beez, New Memphis Hepcats Jazz Orchestra, Bill Shepherd Big Band, Powerhouse Rhythm and Blues Band, Nightlife Blues Band, and jazz orchestras at the University of Northern Iowa, University of Memphis, University of Mary, and University of Manitoba. His other freelance trumpet work includes the Memphis Symphony Orchestra, Waterloo-Cedar Falls Symphony Orchestra, Bismarck Symphony Orchestra, the Metropolitan Brass Quintet, and many solo performances.

Before moving to New Zealand, Dr Lisik was Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Jazz Studies at LeMoyne-Owen College in Memphis, Tennessee where he created the LeMoyne-Owen College African Drumming Ensemble (LOCADE) and the LeMoyne-Owen Records label, producing three CDs of student work. From 1998-2003, Dave was Director of Bands at Murdoch MacKay Collegiate in Winnipeg, Canada where his ensembles were awarded 12 Gold ratings at regional music festivals, two National Gold Awards and a Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award. The Murdoch MacKay jazz program released three studio CDs of student work.

Dave completed his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Composition with a Jazz Emphasis at the University of Memphis where he directed large and small jazz ensembles, and taught Jazz Pedagogy, Jazz Ensemble Techniques, Jazz Ear Training, and Jazz History. He received a Master of Music degree in Jazz Pedagogy from the University of Northern Iowa in 1998 and was a performing member of UNI Jazz Band One which included performances at the Montreux and North Sea Jazz Festivals, two CD releases: Games (1998); and Conversations (1997), two of Dr. Herb Wong's IAJE Blue Chip Jazz CD Awards and a Downbeat Magazine Student Music Award for College Big Band. Dave also received three outstanding soloist awards at the Elmhurst College Jazz Festival in Chicago and two MTNA state composition championships.

Biography updated: December 2014

Jazz research

Dr David Lisik’s creative output of original music composition includes works and recordings for contemporary-classical and electroacoustic ensembles, jazz orchestra and small jazz groups, and often involves semi-programmatic work inspired by literature, scientific theory and historical events, integrating traditional composition with both classical and jazz improvisers and electronic elements. He has assembled several performance and recording ensembles for his work, comprised of internationally-recognized performers, primarily from the New York City jazz and New Zealand orchestral communities, including the Wellington-based Didactic Glass New Music Ensemble and the Pawn Farm Jazz Quartet.

Coming Through Slaughter – The Bolden Legend, Origin of Species, and Metropolis

This trilogy of original jazz orchestra recordings features some of the top recording artists in jazz: Alex Sipiagin, Tim Hagans, Dick Oatts, Donny McCaslin, Bob Sheppard, Luis Bonilla, John Fedchock, Tanya Darby, Joey Tartell, Corey Christiansen, and Matt Wilson.

Donated By Cantor Fitzgerald – a threnody

A 60-minute electroacoustic composition, which received its broadcast premiere on the 10th anniversary of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks during a commemorative show hosted by classical music broadcaster Marvin Rosen. All compositions were written specifically to commemorate 9/11 and the composers selected included prominent artists including John Adams, Margaret Brouwer, Charles Camilleri, Gloria Coates, Stefania De Kenessy, David Del Tredici, Nickitas Demos, Bechara El-Khoury, Adolphus Hailstork, Stephen Hartke, and Joan Tower.

Walkabout – A Place for Visions

In 2011, Australia’s premiere jazz orchestra, the Jazzgroove Mothership Orchestra commissioned, premiered and recorded Dave’s eight-movement suite, Walkabout – A Place for Visions. Inspired by the novel, The Children by James Vance Marshall and the subsequent film, Walkabout by Nicolas Roeg, the suite features international guest artsists Alex Sipiagin and Bob Sheppard as principal soloists.


Teaching in 2020