Leigh O’Hara is known for his engaging and 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 focused on conducting and his roles as Assistant Head, Director of Partnerships and Director of Music at St Paul's Girls' School in London where he runs a large and busy department of almost sixty staff. The school has a long tradition of music making, previous directors of music have included Gustav Holst, Ralph Vaughan Williams and Herbert Howells, and there is an annual programme of about 60 concerts.
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, where he is a trustee, 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 Wandsworth Symphony Orchestra, Dulwich Symphony Orchestra and South London Youth Orchestra. 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 co-wrote the Cambridge Pre-U music syllabus and has been an examiner for A level music as well as his work as a grade examiner for the Associated Board of the Royal Schools of Music. Alongside working as a music consultant he has been involved with Music Mark, the Mayor’s Music Taskforce and Music Excellence London working with teachers to improve music provision in London. He has played timpani and percussion professionally and has also studied the oboe, french horn and viola. Leigh is a keen cyclist and has an irrational enthusiasm for public transport and railways (but has never been a train spotter).