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Conductor Leader



Leigh O’Hara is known for his engaging an ambitious performances of major works with orchestras and choirs of non-professional musicians of all ages. After many years working as a pianist his career is now focussed on conducting and his role as Director of Music at St Paul's Girls' School in London. Having completed a music degree at the University of York, where he won the department prize for outstanding musical contribution, Leigh continued his piano studies at Trinity College of Music with Simon Young, Philip Fowke and David Owen Norris before completing a masters degree at Royal Holloway, University of London. As well as winning first prize in the Weingarten Schumann Competition he was awarded the Gertrude Norman Prize and Cross Memorial Scholarship. Leigh has studied conducting with some of the most respected teachers and musicians including Peter Stark, Lionel Friend, Michael Rose, George Hurst and Rodolfo Saglimbeni.

Leigh has been resident at Dartington International Summer School in various capacities for over 20 years where he has performed as soloist and chamber musician as well as coaching chamber music, teaching piano and conducting the orchestral workshop and chamber choir. As well as conducting the Symphony and Chamber Orchestras at St Paul's Leigh is musical director of the Blackheath Halls Orchestra, Wandsworth Symphony Orchestra South London Youth Orchestra and co-director of the Colet Choral Society. Leigh is passionate about community music-making and has conducted three fully-staged operas for Blackheath Community Opera (Carmen, La Boheme and Orpheus and Eurydice) as well as joint projects with several choirs in south London and Blackheath Halls Chorus (including Verdi's Requiem and Mendelssohn's Elijah).

Leigh is a keen cyclist and has an irrational enthusiasm for public transport and railways but he has never been a train-spotter.

Paula Tysall is the Leader of DSO. Paula studied violin at the Centre for Young Musicians (where she was awarded the Associated Board’s Silver Medal), at the Royal College of Music and the National Centre for Orchestral Studies. As a member of the New London Orchestra she has recorded for Hyperion Records, made broadcasts for the BBC and Classic FM, appeared at the Proms, and in Matthew Bourne’s award winning Swan Lake. She has played with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia and English National Ballet. She performs in opera, ballet, shows, orchestral concerts and chamber music recitals.

Paula divides her time between freelance orchestral playing, teaching and chamber music. She teaches at Westminster School, Eaton House the Manor, Centre for Young Musicians and Croydon High School.  She is a member of the Ashington, Beaufort and Allenby String Quartets and the Hermitage and Woodwarde Ensembles. Paula also plays Viola and Baroque Violin.

As Leader of the DSO she aims to support the players encouraging their love of music and developing their orchestral skills.



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