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.
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.
Douglas is a prolific composer and has written for all ages – professional and non-professional – and his output includes 2 symphonies, a requiem, 5 masses, an Easter Oratorio, 3 operas, 2 ballets, orchestral music, songs, church music and music for children. Many compositions have been supported by grants from the Arts Councils of England and Scotland. A number of his compositions have been set for the Trinity/Guildhall Exams and the Associated Board. In 2006 he composed some recorder duets for the Associated Board’s Medal Awards.
In 2004, he had published A Chance to Sing a book of songs on current social issues which was written to raise money for the charity Barnardo’s. The book was launched in July 2004 at the Royal Albert Hall (London) in a concert conducted by Douglas with a choir of over 1200 children. His most recent compositions over the past 5 years include Full Fathom Five, a suite of sea shanties and sea songs for the men of The Virginia Consort and Youth Chorale, Virginia, USA, A Fascicle of Songs for Choir, Children’s Choir and Orchestra – 7 settings of poems by Robert Louis Stevenson for MakingMusic, Scotland , Missa Brevis for the Suwon Civic Chorale of South Korea, Te Deum for the Paoli Presbyterian Church, Pennsylvania, The Nations Rejoice, a suite of 11 carols for St. Mary’s Singers, Potton, Make we joy at this fest for Lymington Choral Society in Hampshire, The Readstone Carols, a suite of 6 carolsfor the Readstone Singers of Burnley, Blow Away the Morning Dew, a suite of 10 Somerset Folk Songs for The Amici Singers, and 6 Shakespearean Quotations for oboe and piano written for Bryan Shaw. Recent publications include A Tapestry of British Songs (Lindsay Music) for SSA and piano, Piping Down theValleys Wild (Brass Wind Publications) – 9 pieces for flute and piano and Three GloucestershireDances for the Prince of Wales Brass Ensemble commissioned by Gloucestershire University to celebrate the centenary of the foundation of the university’s chapel – St Paul’s and St Mary’s which is in Cheltenham.
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. In 2005 he composed A Sea Song Suite for Orchestra to celebrate the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar. And for the 10th anniversary in 2006 of the Battle Proms he composed Battle Proms Waltz (in the style of Johann Strauss II) based on themes from Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and Beethoven’s Battle Symphony. For 2011 he has orchestrated Bach’s famous organ Toccata and Fugue in D minor which will be played at all the Battle Proms.
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.
19 November 2010, in Gloucester Cathedral Douglas was awarded by Gloucestershire University an honorary Doctor of Music for services to music and the university.
When he has the time he loves watching rugby and cricket, two sports he used to play, the latter he once considered playing professionally.