Born in Zimbabwe, Conductor Graham Lea-Cox has had an eclectic career as a conductor of orchestra, opera, music for theater, film and television in the United States, Europe, Scandinavia, Mexico and Africa.
His professional career began as conductor and Artistic Director of musical ensembles in Texas and California, touring the United States of America for Columbia Artists, (New York) and to China and Japan for Kambara (Tokyo). Since then and based in Europe, his international conducting career has had a special focus on repertoires from the 18th to the 20th century and the musical repertoire of Latin America and Africa.
After completing his studies in Zimbabwe, Graham Lea-Cox won a music scholarship to the Royal College of Music in London to study cello, organ and conducting, and an academic scholarship to the University of Oxford, gaining his MA (Oxon) in Music, studying also Harpsichord with Anthony Rooley (London) and organ with Andre Marchal (France). After conducting studies with legendary maestros Herbert Blomstedt (in Los Angeles) and Norman Del Mar in London, he trained as a Repetiteur at the English National Opera (London).
In the USA Graham has directed performances at many of the major concert halls. He made early US conducting debuts at Carnegie Hall (New York), the Dorothy Shaw Music Pavillion in Los Angeles and the San Antonio International Music Festival, before a London debut with the Orchestra of St. John’s, Smith Square. He was subsequently invited by Swedish conductor Arnold Östman to be his assistant at the Teatro Regio in Parma, and then to research the 18th century Gluckian manuscripts at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm for the Drottningholm Palace Theater, where he subsequently spent several seasons. Invitations followed from leading British conductor Sir Charles Mackerras, for an internship with the Czech Philharmonic in Prague, and from the Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam to assist Conductor Hartmut Haenchen in Die Walküre (Richard Wagner) and Wozzeck (Alban Berg).
In 1990 Graham founded the English Performing Arts Ensemble (EPAE) in London with members of the main orchestras (London Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony Orchestra and the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden). For many seasons he also conducted the Elizabethan Singers, one of London’s historic chamber choirs.
With the English Performing Arts Ensemble, he performed at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and on tour in Europe and the United States. He was invited to be Artistic Director of the first UK WARCHILD Festival at the Royal Festival Hall (1993), raising funds for the victims of the Balkan civil war, with British actor John Thaw and leading international musicians.
With the English Performing Arts Ensemble he directed a five-year educational project for advanced young artists and schools, in association with the London Conservatories of Music and the Laban School of Dance, to encourage young people to study both historically informed performance style and to explore the more radical and contemporary aspects of classical music.
Graham has given master-classes and been a visiting lecturer at universities in South Africa and Mexico, including the University of South Africa (UNISA), the University of Pretoria, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, Rhodes University (Grahamstown) and in Mexico the University of Monterrey, the University of Saltillo and the Monterrey Higher School of Music and Dance.
In the film industry he is active as conductor, orchestrator and music supervisor as well as Music Director for ‘Insomnia Studios’, the leading South African film studios. Graham has supervised and directed orchestras for various South African films, with music by South African-Swiss-German composer Geo Hoehn.
Graham Lea-Cox has extensive experience in conducting repertoires from the 18th to the 20th century. Over several seasons he has conducted the WDR Sinfonieorchester, Köln (West German Radio Symphony Orchestra) and broadcast with them on WDR 3 (West German Radio). In the UK he has directed the Hanover Band, one of the UK’s leading authentic instrument orchestras, in Italy the ‘Orchestra dell’Accademia San Felice and l’Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina and for the Göteborgsoperan and the Teater-och Operahögskolan, Sweden, with Knut Sommer, Regiseur, Deutschen Oper Berlin.
The performance of works by contemporary and living composers is of great importance to Graham. With the Cape Philharmonic Orchestra in South Africa he has conducted several seasons of contemporary repertoire, including premieres of major works by South African composer Hendrik Hofmeyr, and, in Mexico, a series of symphonic concerts to celebrate the Mexican composer, Pablo Moncayo.
As a scholar, Graham Lea-Cox has received critical acclaim for his 18th and 19th century manuscript editions, recorded with the Hanover Band on ASV / Universal Records. These discs have received worldwide recognition and a Grammy Classical Award nomination in the United States.
As a répétiteur Graham has trained several renowned opera singers, including American Mezzo-Soprano, Kathleen Kuhlmann, for their roles and concerts in major opera houses in Europe and North America. In the United States he has prepared choirs for several major orchestras, including the Los Angeles Philharmonic, the Dallas Symphony Orchestra (with Mexican conductor Eduardo Mata) and the New York City Opera (in Los Angeles).
More recently (2021/2022) in Italy he has been Guest Artistic Director of the Florence based Festival Orchestre Giovanile , one of the most established and successful International Festivals in Europe for players under 35 years old.
In addition to his international commitments, he has worked for many years to promote the dissemination of music across cultures and to develop new professional collaborations. His personal initiative, Creative Beetroot, is dedicated to promoting artistic collaboration between different cultures and communities around the world .
Graham has been a representative artist of the British Council to Sweden, the Czech Republic and Zimbabwe.