Christopher Leedham

composer | conductor | teacher

UYMP mentoring project with Dark Inventions

Posted on 20 December 2014

I’m delighted to be working on a new mentoring project for emerging composers run by the University of York Music Press and funded by Arts Council England. The project will culminate in the publication of works created for Dark Inventions’ 2014 Firewheel Tour alongside the release of a new recording made by Dark Inventions.

The new pieces commissioned by Dark Inventions by Philip Cashian, Stef Conner, Benjamin Gait, Patrick John Jones, Martin Schueregger and myself will feature in one of two collections to be published by UYMP in early 2015.

Christopher appeared on BBC Radio 3’s In Tune programme on Friday 9 May with his ensemble, Dark Inventions.  Co-founded with composer and analyst Martin Scheuregger, Dark Inventions has been presenting a tour across the North of England featuring new contemporary pieces alongside fresh arrangements of traditional folk songs.

You can listen to Chris in conversation with Suzy Klein, along with live performances from the ensemble, on BBC iPlayer here.


My new piece for flute, violin and vibraphone, Möbius Sticks, will be premiered on Dark Inventions Firewheel Tour 2014 from 8-16 May 2014.

The piece will feature in a programme of new British music and fresh arrangements of traditional folk songs, which includes the world premiere of Philip Cashian‘s Firewheel, commissioned by Dark Inventions especially for the tour with financial assistance from the Britten-Pears Foundation.

Other composers with pieces on the tour include: Stef Conner, Benjamin Gait, Patrick John Jones and Martin Scheuregger.

The tour is presented in partnership with Sound and Music as part of their Composer-Curator Scheme 2013-14.

North American premiére

Posted on 25 February 2014

By Frederikto (Own work) [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (//], via Wikimedia Commons

Bryn Athyn Cathedral
by Frederikto (Own work), via Wikimedia Commons

Happy the man that findeth wisdom, from Antiphons, will receive its North American premiére as part of the 2 March 2014 service at Bryn Athyn Cathedral in Pennsylvania.

The choir of Bryn Athyn Cathedral will be conducted by Director of Music, Graham Bier.

The service will be streamed live at 11am EST (4pm GMT) and is available to watch on demand after the conclusion of the service at //

Siren Songs performance at Coastival 2014

Posted on 14 February 2014


Siren Song 3 will received another performance at Scarborough Rotunda as part of Coastival 2014.

Scarborough Rotunda Museum at 1pm on Sunday 16 February. Admission free.

Forthcoming premiere of Afterglow

Posted on 22 November 2012

Afterglow will be premiered by the University of York Symphony Orchestra on 8 December 2012 at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall in York.

The piece will be played alongside Britten’s Sinfonia de Requiem, Mahler’s Kindertodenlieder and Guilmant’s Organ Concerto. Tickets are available from YorkConcerts or OTD

‘Rhapsody on a Windy Night’

Posted on 31 October 2012

Rhapsody on a Windy Night posterA new collaborative project with soprano Ana Beard-Fernadez and clarinettist Will Ozard, Rhapsody on a Windy Night is a setting of T.S.Elliot’s poem of the same name by 12 York-based Julian Schnabel: A Private Portrait 2017 trailer

Ana and Will asked each composer to set a small section of the poem for soprano, a clarinet (A, Bb, Eb or bass) and optional electronics. The resultant performance on 6 November 2012 will reveal the whole poem through a showcase of diverse new compositions.

I’m really looking forward to hearing the piece and how it fits in with everyone else’s sections – come down to the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall at 1pm on 6 November 2012 for the complete performance (£2 OTD).

Siren Songs workshop with Sarah Watts

Posted on 13 June 2012

I’m looking forward to hearing a new piece I’ve written for bass clarinet which will be workshopped by Sarah Watts later this month.

The piece is in three short sections and attempts to exploit to surprisingly sweet singing voice of the bass clarinet – something not often heard!

‘Endgame’ to be premiered in June

Posted on 22 March 2012

Endgamea new piece for fourteen players – will be premiered by the Chimera Ensemble on 22 June 2012 at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall in York. Full details to follow. You can read more about the piece on the composition page or listen to a workshop extract on Soundcloud.streaming Logan 2017

The Chimera Ensemble is a highly flexible student-run contemporary music ensemble, performing around 40 new student works a year and using musicians from a pool of many undergraduate and postgraduate student instrumentalists and singers.. The group provides a public forum for new undergraduate and postgraduate compositions and also gives students the opportunity to perform challenging contemporary repertoire. Recent performances have included Boulez’s Dérive 2, John Adams’ Chamber Symphony and Xenakis’ Thallein.

Website: //

New Music from Old York, including ‘Happy the Man that Findeth Wisdom’, an extract from Antiphons, has just been released on the Boreas label priced £9.99. It features new choral music by York-based composers performed by The 24, directed by William Brooks and Graham Bier.Ghost in the Shell 2017 film trailer

Full details and purchasing options can be found on the Boreas website:

I recently took part in the premiere of Martin Scheuregger‘s An unknown loss as part of the Chimera Ensemble. Martin’s piece – a trio for singing viola, clarinet, and piano – takes its inspiration from a single sentence: “For sale: Baby shoes, never worn.” 

At first glance this text seems a fragment, but after a moment the narrative completeness becomes painfully clear. A mere newspaper advertisement (attributed to Ernest Hemingway), there is nothing in the text which is in and of itself tragic, yet the logical conclusion we will no doubt come to speaks of emotional suffering of the highest degree. This is a moving text, and that we are able to be thus moved by mere implication is curious.

Here is the live recording from the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall at the University of York, with Vic Bernath (viola and voice) and Emily Worthington (clarinet).

Work in progress…

Posted on 22 October 2011

I’ve been working on a few ideas for a new piece for chamber ensemble over the last few months. This week I got an opportunity to have a small section workshopped at the York Postgraduate Forum (thanks to Benjamin Gait for organising it all).

The brief was to write a 1 minute piece – either a miniature or a sketch – for the Fires of London line-up (flute, clarinet, violin, cello, percussion, piano). This is the extract which forms to beginning of the larger piece I’m working on:watch film Star Wars: The Force Awakens now

Thanks also to Cheong Li for the recording, and to all the players from the University of York Music Department!

Manchester Chamber Choir will perform an extract from Antiphons at the York Late Music Festival in October. The fourth movement ‘Happy is the man that findeth wisdom’ will feature in an eclectic programme alongside works by Einojuhani Rautavaara, Jan Sandström, Urmas Sisask, Judith Weir, James MacMillan, John Tavener, James Weekes, Roger Marsh, Philip Moore and David Power at the St Saviourgate Church in York on Saturday 1 October Phoenix Forgotten 2017 download

For the full programme and tickets, please visit the Late Music website. You can see an extended extracts from Antiphons on my Vimeo page.

Premiere of Antiphons

Posted on 1 July 2011

Antiphons, my new piece for soloists, choir, organ, harp and percussion, was premiered at the Sir Jack Lyons Concert Hall on Wednesday by The 24 conducting by Graham Bier. The piece was written for the 2010 Lyons Celebration Award commission and sets a number of contrasting secular and sacred texts as a response to Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, one of Sir Jack Lyons’ favourite pieces.streaming Teleios

Audio and video clips from the performance to follow!

cat•er•waul will be playing at the York Spring Festival of New Music on Thursday 12 May 2011. We will be performing Verses for clarinet and piano by Birtwistle alongside newly-composed pieces by Lauren Redhead and Desmond Clarke.

Also featuring in the concert is young pianist, Joseph Houston. Joseph Houston is currently studying at the Royal College of Music with Ashley Wass. He will be playing works by György Kurtág, Ligeti, Bill Brooks and world premiere of Thomas Simaku‘s The Flight of the Eagle.

The Lyons Celebration Award

Posted on 2 April 2011

I’m currently working on a big piece for the Lyons Celebration Award 2010 to be performanced at the annual Sir Jack Lyons Concert Showcase on Wednesday 29 June 2011.

The Lyons Celebration Award invites the recipient to respond to one of Sir Jack Lyons’s favourite pieces: Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. As well as the more famous orchestral version, Leonard Bernstein prepared an edition for smaller forces – soloist, choir, organ, harp, and percussion. Taking inspiration from this unusual instrumental ensemble, I’m writing a personal reflection on Bernstein’s piece, setting extracts from the Bible, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam and the writings of St John of the Cross.

Tickets are available online from York Concerts, or by telephone on 01904 322439.

New website now online!

Posted on 25 March 2011

As you can see, I’ve *finally* got around to producing myself sorting out my website! I’ll be updating this with new posts on Soundcloud and Vimeo, as well as musings and thoughts if/as/when I feel so inspired.

As well as looking around here, don’t forget to look at the York Spring Festival of New Music site, which I’ve just completed. This student-run festival happens every year to promote new music in a variety of styles. This year it runs from Wednesday 11 May – Sunday 15 May, and just so happens to incude a performance by cat•er•waul: that is, me on clarinet, Edd Caine on piano, and Enrico Bertelli on percussion.

So it goes

Posted on 8 September 2010

Putting on my conducting hat I directed Martin Scheuregger‘s So it goes at Narrative Lines, York.