David Murphy

Born in Pembrokeshire on the west coast of Wales, David began his musical studies as a violinist. Within a few months of study he had won a local music competition and was subsequently awarded a full scholarship to the renowned specialist school, the Purcell School.

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David was an award-winning student at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London, where he studied violin, viola and chamber music with members of the Amadeus Quartet. During this time, David performed as soloist and chamber musician throughout Britain and Europe and also studied baroque and classical violin with Catherine Mackintosh. He subsequently enjoyed two very happy years as a graduate teaching assistant at Wichita State University, where also began conducting studies with Dr Jay Decker.

His conducting debut occurred at a moment’s notice: a conductor was suddenly indisposed and David was the only member of the orchestra with a baton in his case. The experience was a revelation and prompted the decision to undertake full time conducting study beginning with at Tanglewood with Seiji Ozawa.

He completed his studies with Leon Barzin in Paris. David had the great privilege to be Barzin’s last student, living and studying intensively with him during the summers Barzin spent in Europe from 1993 until his death in 1999. Through this relationship he is fortunate enough to have a direct link to the great conductors of the early Twentieth Century, notably both Toscanini and Furtwängler - a training unique for a conductor of his generation.

Two other legendary mentors were subsequently central to his development as a musician: the conductor Sir Charles Mackerras and the sitar maestro and composer Pandit Ravi Shankar. David’s music- making contains a unique blend of these very potent influences: from Barzin the musical philosophy and techniques of the “golden age” of conducting, from Sir Charles Mackerras cutting-edge scholarship, and from Pandit Ravi Shankar the spontaneous creativity and spiritual perspective of Indian music.

He is currently at the forefront of the development of a new “Indo-Classic” musical genre which aims to tap into the common roots of both Indian and Western music. This quest was supported by Arts Council England and has since included concerts and recordings with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Philharmonic Orchestra, Sinfonia ViVA and the London Sinfonietta.

He has been very active in bringing music to new audiences and to young people. His education projects culminating in young people taking the stage with the professionals, often performing a work they have created together.

His most recent Royal Festival Hall concert contained an important premiere and marked his South Bank debut with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. This programme featured the world premiere of Ravi Shankar’s Symphony alongside works by other composers Shankar has profoundly influenced, including Philip Glass and John Adams.

A popular guest-conductor, David has performed on four continents. His debut in South Africa was televised on SABC, and this has led to a series of engagements with the South African Orchestras, from Beethoven Symphonies with the Johannesburg and Kwa-Zulu Natal Philharmonic Orchestras to outreach work with children and choirs from the Townships. He recently conducted a highly successful run of Mozart’s Cosi fan tutte at the Longborough Festival, made his London Opera debut with Holst’s Savitri and made his Far-Eastern debut, performing Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the Seoul National Symphony Orchestra, in a concert for world peace broadcast on both Korean and Japanese television. He recently toured Russia and Poland conducting the London Chamber Players in sell out concerts in St Petersburg Conservatoire, Tchaikovsky Hall, and the Great Hall of Moscow Conservatoire and, at the climax of a recent Spanish tour at the Auditorio Nacionale in Madrid.

He conducted Samaagam, a ground breaking collaboration with Ustad Amjad Ali Khan and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra at the St Magnus and City of London Festivals and on a pioneering tour of India which also featured symphonies by Beethoven and Mozart, heard in some Indian venues for the first time. He returned to the SCO in March to record Samaagam for the harmonia mundi/world village label. His critically acclaimed Royal Festival Hall debut with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra included Janáček’s Sinfonietta and a ground-breaking performance of Sibelius 2nd Symphony using the original source material. He was recently elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts.