About us – Leslie Olive, Conductor

The Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra


Leslie Olive’s website (opens in new tab)

Leslie Olive, Conductor, is increasingly recognised as a key contributor to the musical life of Suffolk.  Leslie

Having conducted the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the London Mozart Players and the English Chamber Orchestra, he founded Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra in 2012 with three aims in mind:

  • to provide “London-standard” orchestral playing of the highest standard in symphony concerts at the main venues across the county of Suffolk;
  • to provide free, accessible short concerts in villages and town localities from which have been removed as many as posssible of the things which are barriers to attendance at Classical music – free Community Concerts;
  • to provide engaging opportunities in schools for children and young people to encounter top-level playing of orchestral instruments.

In the years since its launch concert in St Edmundsbury Cathedral at the 2012 Bury St Edmunds Festival, the Suffolk Philharmonic has deeply impressed knowledgeable audiences across the county with its outstanding quality of playing, its verve, commitment, and passion for the music. Suffolk Philharmonic plays at The Apex, Bury St Edmunds, Snape Maltings, Ipswich Corn Exchange, Long Melford Church, and St Peter’s Sudbury as well as sending groups of players into schools to work with children and into the villages to provide free Community Concerts.

Leslie Olive is also an outstanding choral conductor and deeply committed to voluntary music-making. In Suffolk, he has been conductor of Stowmarket Chorale for more than fifteen years, during which time the Chorale has performed at John Peel’s memorial service, appeared on Look East, and toured Elgar’s The Dream of Gerontius, giving only the second ever performance in the highly prestigious Smetana hall in the heart of the city of Prague, as well as providing regular opportunities to sing and to hear fine performances in and around the town.

For ten years, Leslie has also been conductor of the highly-regarded Eye Bach Choir, where the enthusiastic membership is currently growing rapidly and threatens to exceed the space available for the performers in Eye’s magnificent church.

For a much longer time, Leslie Olive has conducted the Surrey-based English Arts Chorale, which he founded, and which has sung at The Barbican Concert Hall, the Queen Elizabeth Hall, St Martin in the Fields, and in many cathedrals around the country as well as broadcasting for Radio 4 and touring in Europe. The composer John Rutter paid English Arts Chorale an expert’s compliment when he recently described their distinctive sound as “translucent.”

In other work, Leslie Olive founded and directed the nearly-100-strong boys choir of Colchester Royal Grammar School, taking them on European tours and performing alongside the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the choir of Trinity College Cambridge. He has conducted the London Philharmonic Choir, the Choir of Royal Holloway University of London, the Philharmonia Orchestra, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, the English Chamber Orchestra, London Mozart Players, Opera Brava and London Opera Players. For four years he was a music director for BBC radio. In February 2017 he also became, for the time being at least, Music Director of Wattisham Military Wives Choir.

With Suffolk Philharmonic, Leslie Olive is passionate about English music, and the distinctive sound of Vaughan Williams has a promiment place in SPO programming. Elgar, Britten, Finzi, and Rutter, are among a long list of English composers whose work has featured. At the same time, the concerts of the first five years of the SPO have demonstrated a confident and assured mastery of a broad repertoire with has included Richard Strauss, Wagner, Brahms, Mozart, and Beethoven.


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