Leon Bosch one of the few double bass players to direct concertos from his instrument has been appointed the new Conductor and Artistic Director of Henley Symphony Orchestra.
Having worked with the finest conductors for 30 years as a member of groups such as the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, Philharmonia and Hallé, Leon learnt the repertoire and conductor’s craft from inside the orchestra, and finally made the transition to the podium in 2015, when he left Academy of St Martin in the Fields and went to study in St Petersburg with Alexander Polishchuk. Since then he has conducted orchestras across the UK, Europe, India, South Africa and Mozambique.
During his playing career, Leon has performed concertos around the world and served as a guest with ensembles such as the Lindsays, Brodsky Quartet and Zukerman Chamber Players.
Leon is professor of double bass at Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music and Dance in London and gives masterclasses in the US, Europe, South Africa and the Far East. He has also served as double bass coach for youth orchestras including the I, Culture Orchestra, National Youth String Orchestra, Miagi Orchestra and Buskaid. He has contributed to programmes on BBC Radio 3 and 4 and written for The Strad and Classical Music magazines.
Leon grew up in South Africa, the son of the political activist Jonas Fred Bosch, and spent time in a police cell for organising protests while at school. He left the apartheid regime behind to study at the Royal Northern College of Music in Manchester.
He became a British citizen in 2000. In recent years he has returned to his roots, musically, forming the Ubuntu Ensemble with other UK-based South African musicians, and commissioning music for the South African Double Bass project, the first CD of which was released in 2020. He also acts as a mentor for South African musicians worldwide.
On being appointed the role, Leon said, “It is extraordinary as there has only been a small handful in time, stepping into Ian Brown shoes who was in the position for 27 years is quite an honour. I’ve gone to first rehearsal with the orchestra and they are wonderful, lovely people and we’ve got an extraordinary programme for my first concert in March at the Hexagon which was decided upon before I started.”
Why did Leon decided to apply for the role? Leon replied, “The Henley Symphony Orchestra is one of the best community/amateur orchestras in the country and given that Henley is only 29 miles from my home in Tring, it is the perfect opportunity to be able to share the wisdom I have been privileged to accumulate over a decades-long career – with The Academy of St Martin in the Fields – on a regular basis. The position as Music Director also enables me to devise programmes for the orchestra, and to work with my preferred soloists. But there are also other responsibilities, including the overall health and wellbeing – artistically and financially – of the orchestra.”
The Hexagon concert is on Sunday 26 March featuring outstanding pianist Eric Lu, former winner of the Leeds International piano competition, who will play Beethoven’s powerful ‘Emperor’ concerto, and will include Rachmaninov’s blockbuster 2nd Symphony, Smetana: Vltava and Beethoven: Piano Concerto No 5 in Eb Major Op 73.
For tickets go to https://www.whatsonreading.com/book/408202
Photo credit: Juno Snowdon / Art Direction Adam Hypki.