I am a British composer inspired by folk, contemporary classical and sacred traditions. Whilst trained as a classical composer and violinist, my early instrumental pieces explore European folk-dance rhythms and melodies. My earliest music includes a piano concerto for pianist Leslie Howard & I also wrote and played for the folk inspired bands – Finality Jack, Mapaluna & Kai.

 

Through my many years experience of working with young people and in the community, I have developed an approach, which, like the folk tradition, is grounded in community, whether it be in the context of choirs, inter-faith, hospice, education, dance, theatre or working with professional musicians. A visit to Swaziland in 1999 sparked a more intense interest in the voice which has lead to creating a body of vocal music that highlights unity of the worlds sacred traditions. I am drawn to words that have a transcendent quality, whether from poetry, Shamanic, or many religious traditions. I gather melodies, ideas, words and sounds, sometimes over a period of many years, until they find form, often woven together as elaborate tapestries, or sometimes with child like simplicity. I am equally concerned that my music speaks to a 5 year old child as to an 85 year old and enjoy the challenge of integrating my music into community settings as much as traditional concert venues.

 

My most recent vocal work RIVERS explores the oneness of religion & weaves a tapestry of poetry & scripture from 8 of the worlds great religions. Funded by Arts Council England, RIVERS was created in collaboration with NMPAT, local faith & inter-faith groups & the film maker Lou Armitt. It was performed by the award winning Northants County Youth Choir with an ensemble of strings, piano, harp, Shamanic gongs & percussion at St John Smiths Square, London. They were joined for the final 10 minutes of the piece by an online virtual choir of singers of all ages and abilities who had pre-recorded and uploaded their voices via youtube. Other works include – MYRIADS – 9 settings of The Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, weaving Persian and Arabic chant, Tibetan prayer bowls, SATB choir & ensemble, & – SEED – 12 settings of Baha’i writings.

 

I have also written a significant amount of educational music such as Hurdy-Gurdy written for over 300 young string players of all levels, the Native American inspired The Guaymi Dawn Song written for hospital and outreach students.

Richard Leigh

 

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