Born in London in 1971, Owen Leech studied composition with Robert Saxton and Raymond Warren at the University of Bristol, which awarded him a Ph.D. in 2002. He has also studied with Kurt Schwertsik (composition) and Diego Masson (conducting) at the Dartington International Summer School and, on receipt of a Polish government scholarship, with Włodzimierz Kotoński at the Chopin Academy in Warsaw. His music has been performed widely in the United Kingdom and also in North America, Holland, Spain, Poland and Japan by such distinguished performers as the Schubert Ensemble of London, the English Northern Philharmonia under Elgar Howarth, cellist Jamie Walton and the Composers’ Ensemble.
Commissions over recent years have resulted in something of a focus on piano and string chamber music, including a particularly productive association with the Schubert Ensemble, for whom he has written a number of works, including a piano quartet, ‘A deeper season’, which they performed at the 2002 Cheltenham International Festival, London’s South Bank and on tour in Canada. In his Daily Telegraph review, Matthew Rye admired the quartet’s power to “take us on a journey from the darkness of winter to the exhilaration of spring... an allegory for the sense of renewal brought to the medium”, whilst, for the Ottawa Citizen’s Richard Todd it is “a remarkable work, attractive and engaging, yet tightly argued and individual in its vocabulary”.
‘Into the ring of dancing shadows’, a new piano quintet for the Ensemble, was premiered at the 2005 Newbury Spring Festival, and further performances are scheduled next year in Los Angeles and at the South Bank. In early 2005, ‘Schulz’s Hourglass’, for cello and piano, received its first performance at Wigmore Hall, performed by Jamie Walton and Daniel Grimwood, closely followed by the premiere, in Massachusetts, of ‘The wind in the ash’ - a new work for piano quartet which was commissioned by Israeli-American cellist Yehuda Hanani for his New England chamber series, Close Encounters with Music.
His music has also been broadcast on BBC Radio 3, Australia’s ABC Radio National, and WPRB Radio Princeton, New Jersey. Current projects include a viola concerto for Rivka Golani, a large scale piano work and a song cycle.
Leech recently conducted an inaugural concert with his new Helios Chamber Orchestra in London – a venture which will focus particularly on new music and unusual repertoire from the 19th to 20th centuries. In December 2005, he was appointed conductor of the north-London based Tudor Orchestra. In August 2007 he made his Spanish debut with the Russian chamber orchestra 'Volga-art', based in Córdoba (in a programme which included the premiere of his ‘The wind in the ash' at the Villacarillo Festival and, in October, he conducted Handel’s Messiah with the Oxford Sinfonia at the Sheldonian Theatre.
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