Artistic Director: David Leigh
David Leigh is the Organist and Assistant Master of the Music at St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, where, in addition to presiding at the Willis organ, he directs the Schola (Seniour Girls’ Choir) and Lay Vicars Choral. He also pursues a busy freelance career as a conductor, keyboard player and concert organist. In addition to directing The Gaudete Singers he is Musical Director of the University of Dublin Choral Society, conducting the major choral/orchestral repertoire, and appears regularly in a wide-ranging repertoire with the RTE Concert Orchestra, National Symphony Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, with all of which he has appeared as a soloist, and other major Irish performing groups. He is currently also acting Artistic Director of Pipeworks. Two particular highlights of last year were playing the solo part in Thierry Escaich’s First Organ Concerto with the NSO and conducting the RTE Concert Orchestra in a programme of Brahms, Bax and Elgar.
David was educated at Bolton School and Oxford, where he read music as organ scholar of St Peter’s College and was Assisting Organist at Magdalen College. He was organ scholar successively at Blackburn and Lichfield Cathedrals before university, and moved to Dublin to take up his current position in January
1997. He won the Turpin and Durrant prizes in the Royal College of Organists’ Fellowship examination at the age of nineteen, and is a former student of David Sanger and of Nicolas Kynaston. As organist, his concert career has taken him to many prestigious venues in Ireland, England, Continental Europe and America, including Reykjavik, Iceland, Klagenfurt, Austria, Passau, Germany, Westminster Cathedral, Westminster Abbey, numerous other cathedrals and collegiate churches in the UK, and all of the major recital venues in Ireland, including the Ulster Hall, Galway Cathedral, St Michael’s, Dun Laoghaire, the Pro Cathedral, and The National Concert Hall, where he is a frequent soloist in the “Pipeworks at the NCH” series. He especially champions large-scale late nineteenth and twentieth century repertoire, having given the first performances in Ireland of a number of major works. He has also presented cycles of the complete symphonies of Louis Vierne, and of the complete Messiaen organ music, the latter jointly with Tristan Russcher. In June 2003 he became only the fifth person to perform in its entirety Francis Pott’s monumental organ symphony Christus, which lasts for approximately two and a half hours, a performance which he repeated in 2004 at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, and in the Pipeworks festival of 2011. In 2016 David was much involved in the marking of the centenary of the death of the German composer Max Reger, of whose music he has long been a noted interpreter: in addition to two landmark series in St Patrick’s Cathedral presenting all of the composer’s major organ works, he also performed the F sharp minor Variations in the National Concert Hall in May and the chorale fantasia Alle menschen mussen sterbern in the Reger Centenary Series in Westminster Cathedral in July 2016.
David is broadcast regularly on RTE and BBC television and radio, has toured extensively in Ireland, the UK, most European countries and the USA, and features on numerous CD recordings as conductor, accompanist, continuo and orchestral keyboard player. He has also recorded five critically acclaimed solo discs. A CD of organ duets, made with friend and colleague Charles Harrison on the organ of Lincoln Cathedral, was released to enthusiastic reviews on the Guild label in 2012; the fourth solo disc was released last year in Priory Records’ Great European Organs series, eliciting from the critics the following:
“[the repertoire on this recording] offers immensely satisfying rewards to the listener, and these are greatly enhanced by the outstanding playing of David Leigh.”
[of Lemare’s Symphony No 1] “…David Leigh…produces a broad sweeping account in which virtuosity, musical insight, deft handling of the organ’s resources and a hint of showmanship combine to create a performance which alone is well worth the price of this very generously-filled disc.”
Marc Rochester, Musicweb international
"One must begin with a host of compliments to David Leigh for tackling a programme which implies considerable interpretative and technical challenges and for bringing off a series of performances that had me gripped from first bar to last. In the Lemare Symphony, David Leigh's performance is completely convincing. All in all, a splendid and - in its way - quite important disc."
Robert Matthew Walker- The Organ. 5 Stars
"All of this grand, delicious music is delivered with skill and panache: the organ sounds brilliant and revishing... Graeme Kay-= Choir and Organ
A fifth solo recording, on the Priory label, including Franck’s Grand Pièce Symphonique and Lemare’s Second Organ Symphony, recorded on the recently rebuilt organ of St Fin Barre’s Cathedral, Cork, was launched earlier this year to similarly favourable reviews.