23 Hitchin Street
SG18 8AX, UK
Tel : (44) 1767-316521
Fax : (44) 1767-317221
DOUGLAS COOMBES was born in Bristol, England, read music at St Paul's College, Cheltenham and Dartington College of Arts, Devon, where he studied, in particular, composing and conducting. After teaching at High Schools in North Somerset and Bristol, he became Assistant Music Adviser to Norfolk Education Authority, a post that involved conducting choirs and orchestras, directing teachers' courses and advising on music at all levels of education.
In 1968 he joined the BBC as a music producer, working mainly in BBC Education, writing, producing and frequently broadcasting such programmes as "Singing Together" and "Time and Tune," where he regularly enjoyed audiences of 2 million listeners weekly. Other programmes he worked on included "Song Tree," "Guitar School," "Recorder Club," "Musicianship," "The Orchestra," "Masterworks" and "Country Dancing." In 1988, wanting to spend more time on composing and to offer more practical help to teachers and pupils, he left the BBC to become a freelance musician. Straightaway he founded "The New English Concert Orchestra," undertaking many performances annually in concert halls and in schools.
Since 1988, combined with workshops for young people and often working with his wife, the soprano Carole Lindsay-Douglas, he averages well over 200 performances a year. With his wife, he travels the length and breadth of Great Britain and Europe, works regularly in the USA and has worked twice in Hong Kong. In April 1999 he was in S. Korea conducting choirs and directing a teachers' course as well as giving a lecture on "Early English Church Music" to a Women's Theological Seminary. He was again in S. Korea in October 2002, working with the Suwon Civic Chorale, one of the countries leading professional choirs.
Performing to 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!"
Orchestras with whom Douglas has worked with include "Royal Liverpool Philharmonic," "Scottish Chamber," "BBC Welsh," "London Concert," "Manchester Camerata," "Bournemouth Sinfonietta," "Northern Sinfonia" and "The New English Concert Orchestra."
Douglas has conducted a number of operas including La Bohème (Puccini), Hansel and Gretel (Humperdinck), The Marriage (Martinu), The Bartered Bride (Smetana), La Périchole (Offenbach) and Orpheus in the Underworld (Offenbach) as well as his own works - The Deal and Elizabeth Fry. Opera companies that he has directed include The Norfolk Opera Players and Kentish Opera. In June 1996 he directed Noye's Fludde (Britten) which was one of the events celebrating the 900th anniversary of the founding of Norwich Cathedral.
From 1974-1982 he was the conductor of the London Borough of Sutton Schools' Orchestra and in 1978 he gave a number of concerts with that orchestra during a visit to the Eastern Seaboard, USA. Always rising to a challenge, in May 1997 he conducted what is thought to have been the largest children's choir ever assembled, 5000 voices, taking part in the BBCTV series, "Songs of Praise," which was held in Everton Football Ground.
During the past few summers, Douglas has conducted the New English Concert Orchestra in open-air concerts held in such places as Attingham Park (Shropshire), Battle Abbey (East Sussex), Hatfield House (Hertfordshire), Ragley Hall (Warwickshire), Stoneleigh Abbey (Warwickshire) and Stowe Landscape Gardens (Buckinghamshire) and he will be giving a number of these concerts with the orchestra in 2004.
In February 2002, he conducted the first London performance of his The Wonderful Adventures of Sindbad the Sailor &endash; a Concert Pantomime - for Narrator, Choir and Orchestra in the Royal Albert Hall. In March and April he conducted his choir, the Amici Singers, in a number of concerts in the USA. This was their 7th USA tour. A memorable moment came when he conducted a benediction at Ground Zero in New York. Later in November, he conducted the chamber orchestra in Britten's War Requiem, with soloists Neil Jenkins and Stephen Varcoe in an Armistice Day concert given by the Taunton Choral Society Taunton.
He has recently conducted a number of works with various Choral Societies including Mozart's and Fauré's Requiems, his own Requiem, Handel's Messiah and Vivaldi's Gloria.
Douglas Coombes is a popular lecturer and course director and directs around 30 courses annually for teachers as well as directing choral workshops, home and abroad. He is a widely respected Member Adjudicator of the British and International Federation of Festivals working frequently in this country and overseas; he has just been appointed Chairman of the Adjudicators' Council of the Federation. In 2000 he was one of the adjudicators in the Sainsbury's Choir of the Year competition. He is President of the South Hampstead Girls Schools Choirs and is a member of various organisations - Association of British Choral Directors, British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, Mechanical Copyright and Phonographic Society, Musicians' Union, Society of Authors and Performing Rights Society. He is also one of the Patrons of the British Kodaly Academy.