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. 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. 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 in 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) and the San Antonio International Music Festival before a London debut with the St. John’s Orchestra, Smith Square. Invited to work with the Swedish conductor Arnold Östman as his assistant at the Teatro Regio in Parma, Graham went on to conduct Mozart’s Le Nozze di Figaro in Sweden (Göteborgsoperan) and to research the 18th century Gluckian manuscripts at the Royal Swedish Opera in Stockholm for the Drottningholm Palace Theater. An internship in Prague to Sir Charles Mackerras with the Czech Philharmonic led to an invitation as conducting assistant to the Nederlandse Opera in Amsterdam, where he later returned as assistant to the conductor Hartmut Haenchen in Die Walküre by Richard Wagner and Wozzeck by Alban Berg.
In 1990 Graham founded the English Performing Arts Ensemble (EPAE) in London with members of leading orchestras (London Symphony Orchestra, the BBC Symphony Orchestra, and the Royal Opera House Orchestra, Covent Garden). To encourage young people to learn about classical music, Graham devised and directed a five-year educational project with the English Performing Arts Ensemble in association with the London Conservatories of Music and the Laban School of Dance.
With the English Performing Arts Ensemble, he performed at London’s Royal Festival Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall and made several tours with them to Europe and the United States. In 1993, he was invited to be the Artistic Director of the first UK WARCHILD Festival at the Royal Festival Hall, co-hosted by British actor John Thaw. With the participation of many leading international musicians, the Festival raised the profile and funds for the victims of the ongoing civil war in the Balkans.
For many seasons he also conducted the Elizabethan Singers, one of London’s most historic chamber choirs. With them and international actors such as Imelda Staunton and Jeremy Irons he performed with his musicians for the Shakespeare Globe Theatre Trust at the invitation of renowned Shakespearean actor Sam Wanamaker.
Graham has over many years been a guest lecturer at universities in South Africa and Mexico, including the University of South Africa (UNISA), the University of Pretoria, the University of KwaZulu-Natal, the University of Rhodes. In Mexico he has lectured at the University of Monterrey, the University of Saltillo and the Monterrey Higher School of Music and Dance.
Graham Lea-Cox has extensive experience conducting repertoires from the 18th to the 20th century. In Europe he has conducted the West German Radio Symphony Orchestra (WDRSO Köln) and broadcast on German Radio 3. In the UK he has had a long association with the leading British ‘period instrument’ orchestra, the Hanover Band. In Italy he has conducted the Accademia San Felice Orchestra and the Florentine Chamber Orchestra and in Sweden the Gothenburg Opera.
Of primary importance for Maestro Lea-Cox is the performance of the repertoire of living composers. He has conducted several orchestral premieres of contemporary 20th century works and 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, which he has 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 an opera répétiteur, over the years Graham Lea-Cox has trained several renowned singers for their performances and concerts in major opera houses in Europe and North America. In the United States he 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).
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.
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 Lea-Cox has been a representative artist of the British Council to Sweden, the Czech Republic and Zimbabwe.