24 Royston Street,
SG19 2LP UK
DOUGLAS COOMBES, who was born in Bristol, read music at St Paul'sCollege, Cheltenham and Dartington College of Arts, Devon, where he studied, in particular, composing and conducting. Whilst at St Paul’s he formed a male voice choir – the Volklanders conducted the Bishop’s Choir, wrote a musical, Rosina May and produced Ibsen’s The Doll’sHouse.
After teaching in North Somerset and then Assistant Music Advisor to Norfolk LEA, he joined the BBC in 1968 as a music producer, working mainly in BBC Education, writing, producing and frequently broadcasting many programmes such as Time and Tune and Singing Together which regularly enjoyed audiences of around 2 million listeners weekly. In 1988, wanting to spend more time on composing, conducting and to offer more practical help to teachers and pupils, he left the BBC to become a freelance musician. Straightaway he founded The New EnglishConcert Orchestra undertaking many performances annually in concert halls and in schools.
He directs numerous conducting courses for teachers and choral directors. In April 1999 he was in South Korea conducting his own music with various choirs. In 2002 he was once again in South Korea directing workshops and working with one of the countries top professional choirs, the Suwon Civic Chorale, who had just commercially recorded his Mass of 1991. He travels the length and breadth of Great Britain and Europe, works regularly in the USA and has worked twice in Hong Kong.
Performing to and with young people is an important part of Douglas Coombes' work, but he gives concerts to all ages - or as he describes it "From nought to death!" He frequently appears in family concerts either conducting and/or narrating such works as Peter and the Wolf and his own compositions in the genre - Ting Tang the Elephant, The Treasure Trail, The Wonderful Adventures of Sindbad.
During the past few years he has conducted a number of concerts for the UK charity Barnardo’s at such venues as the Royal Albert Hall (London), Birmingham Symphony Hall, Leeds Town Hall, Ely Cathedral and Lambeth Palace (London.) Also for Barnardo’s, on November 5th, 2004, he conducted The New English Concert Orchestra in St. John’s Smith Square, London for the concerto debut of the outstanding 13 year old violinist, Victoria Goldsmith.
Douglas has conducted many of the UK’s leading orchestras including The Royal LiverpoolPhilharmonic, The Scottish Chamber, The BBC Welsh, The London Concert, The ManchesterCamerata, The Bournemouth Sinfonietta, The Northern Sinfonia and The New English ConcertOrchestras. He has also conducted a number of Choral and Opera societies and is invited regularly to direct choral workshops for choirs in the UK and abroad, particularly in the USA.
During the past 16 summers, Douglas has conducted the New English Concert Orchestra in the open-air Battle Prom concerts in England, held in the grounds of stately homes such as HatfieldHouse and Blenheim Palace and has written music for these events
Douglas Coombes is also a busy lecturer and course director. He is on the Council of the Association of British Choral Directors and the School Music Association of Great Britain. He was formerly Chairman of the Adjudicators Council and a Board member of the British and International Federation of Festivals and adjudicates frequently throughout the UK and overseas. He is the Patron of The Riverside Theatre Company, President of The Shannon Express (a barbershop chorus) and is one of the Patrons of The British Kodaly Academy. He is a member of the Musician’s Union, ThePerforming Right Society, The Mechanical Copyright Protection Society, The Society of Authors and the Association of British Choral Directors. In October, 2007 he was made an honorary life member of the Schools Music Association of Great Britain in recognition of his services to Music Education in the UK. In 2008 he started Up Beat an electronic newsletter for conductors.
For the last nine years he has been the music director and consultant of the BBC’s TV Songs of PraiseCompetition to find the Senior and Junior School Choir of the Year and conducted the choirs in all the TV celebratory concerts.
Last November, in Gloucester Cathedral, Douglas was awarded by Gloucestershire University an honorary Doctor of Music for services to music and the university.
For recreation, he directs The Amici Singers, a women’s choir which he founded in 1978. Easter 2011 is their 10th tour of the USA, and is the conductor of St Mary’s Singers of Potton, Bedfordshire. When he has the time he loves watching rugby and cricket, two sports he used to play.