Leslie Olive, founder and artistic director of The English Arts Chorale, The Music Trust, and Reigate Summer Music Festival, is a choir trainer, conductor, composer, arranger, educator, and writer on music, as well as a powerful advocate for music.
He studied music at Reading University and conducting at The Royal Academy of Music. As a young teacher he founded and directed one of Kent’s most successful youth choirs. He was Director of Music at Reigate Parish Church from 1980, and was later invited by the BBC to become the first music director of Radio 4’s new-style Daily Service, where he directed numerous broadcasts. In 1993, he created Reigate Summer Music, a fortnight’s festival of over 50 diverse musical events ranging from an outdoor firework spectacular with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra to a seminar day on the music of Ralph Vaughan Williams; the scholarly papers presented at the seminar were subsequently published in book form.
Leslie Olive’s work with the English Arts Chorale has taken him as conductor to major venues across the country, cathedrals and concert halls alike.
At his heart is a passionate desire to share music with the whole world. He pioneered the Inroad choral courses for beginners, which have introduced hundreds to choral singing. In 2012 he launched the fully professional Suffolk Philharmonic Orchestra, which has won acclaim for the quality of its performances, with his performance of Vaughan Williams’s London Symphony described by one Vaughan Williams enthusiast as “one of the very finest I have heard for many years.”
Leslie Olive is also the conductor of two leading Suffolk choirs, The Stowmarket Chorale and Eye Bach Choir, Chorusmaster of Suffolk Opera, and was until 2012 Director of Music at Colchester Royal Grammar School, where he founded and directed a boys’ choir of 80 young voices.