Douglas John Coombes MBE
Douglas Coombes is well known to music educators and choral practitioners in the UK and beyond. He is a prolific composer, choral clinician and conductor. As a music educator, over a period of 20 years, he wrote, produced and broadcast two BBC Programmes for Schools – Time and Tune and Singing Together through which he helped teachers and children develop a love for and an understanding of music. Douglas was also responsible for many original worship songs and all 250 arrangements in the three Come and Praise books published by the BBC.
He has been the music consultant for the annual BBC TV Songs of Praise School Choirs of the Year competition, and Chairman of the panel of adjudicators for the Barnardo’s Choral Competition since its inception and is Chairman of the panel for the Schools Music Association of Great Britain Awards Scheme and meets countless young people and adult singers in the UK and abroad in the course of his workshops and conducting clinics. He frequently conducts massed choral events for young people at the Royal Albert Hall, Royal Festival Hall and the Barbican, London, which generate substantial sums for Barnardo’s the children’s charity.
In-service teachers’ courses, as well as conducting and writing for the professional New English Concert Orchestra, two adult choirs and many choral and orchestral commissions, also feature in his very full schedule. In musical history, he is thought to be the conductor who has performed Beethoven’s Wellington’s Victory the greatest number of times (at the time of writing 106). This work features in the Battle Proms series, now in their 22nd year.
He has been the director of The Amici Singers since it was founded in 1978, and has been an adjudicator since 1968. In November 2010, Douglas was delighted to accept an Honorary Doctorate in Music from Gloucestershire University and he was also honoured to have been awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List of 2012 for Services to Music. In October 2019 he was elected Associate Fellow of Homerton College, Cambridge University in recognition of his work with the college’s Charter Choir. As well as on-going work with the Charter Choir, he is now conductor of The Homerton Singers, a choral society based at the college, encompassing staff, students and outsiders – in addition to his women’s choir (The Amici Singers) and an a cappella chamber choir (The Ensemble of Friends).
Douglas Coombes is a member of the Performing Rights Society Ltd., the Mechanical-Copyright Protection Society Ltd., The Musician’s Union and the Incorporated Society of Musicians.
Douglas Coombes carries out a number of conducting clinics annually on a freelance basis as well as one-off workshops with choirs of all kinds and ages both in the UK and overseas.
Teaching Diploma, Bristol University 1958
Honorary Doctorate of Music, Gloucestershire University 2010; MBE for Services to music 2012; Honorary Life Member of the Schools Music Association of Great Britain for services to Music in Education 2008; The President’s (Camilla Duchess of Cornwall) Certificate of Appreciation for his charitable performances for Barnardo’s 2009.
Instruments of the Orchestra pub. BBC; countless musical titles in the catalogue of Lindsay Music (www.lindsaymusic.co.uk) from a full-length Requiem, two Choral Symphonies, two Ballets, Ting Tang the Elephant and The Treasure Trail - 2 stories for narrator and orchestra, extended choral works, to separate choral pieces and arrangements; woodwind and brass titles published by Brasswind Publications (www.brasswind.co.uk); Come and Praise worship songbooks (250 songs) pub. BBC; Zmm Zmm and Trig Trog two song collections pub. OUP; Recorder from the Beginning pub. Early Learning Centres