Tomas Leakey began his musical life as a trombonist in the Highland Regional Youth Orchestra. He later joined the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, playing under such conductors as Vernon Handley and Christopher Adey. At the University of Cambridge he studied Natural Sciences but was also very active on the music scene as a pianist and trombonist where he played in all the main orchestras and ensembles. In his third year he took up conducting and was the director of Christ’s College Orchestra.
Tomas studied conducting with the late George Hurst at the Sherborne (formerly Canford) Summer School of Music and with Denise Ham in London. In June 2017 he was a participant in the Orkney Conductors’ Course at the St Magnus Festival, studying with Alexander Vedernikov and working with the Norwegian Radio Symphony Orchestra, BBC Singers, St Magnus Festival Chorus and the Assembly Project. In February 2016 he was an active participant in the Järvi Winter Academy in Estonia. Tomas has also studied with Susan Dingle and Adrian Brown.
At the 2016 Aberystwyth Musicfest Tomas was the joint winner of the Orion Conductors’ Prize, which comes with the position of assistant conductor with Toby Purser and the Orion Orchestra in the 2016-17 season. At this festival he also conducted the UK premiere of Tiffany Windows by the American composer Arlene Sierra with an ensemble featuring the Solem Quartet and Magnard Ensemble as the principal players.
In March 2013 he set up and conducted an educational project in the Highlands, in which a full performance of Stravinsky’s The Soldier’s Tale was taken to several local schools. In June 2013 he founded a chamber orchestra, The Mahler Players, for three performances of Mahler’s Symphony No. 4. The project, Mahler in Miniature, has continued with performances of works including the First, Fifth and Ninth Symphonies, Das Lied von der Erde, the Adagio from the Tenth Symphony and most of the other Mahler song cycles. Tomas was also responsible for leading the Mahler Players through a second educational project in autumn 2015, featuring William Walton’s Façade.
Tomas was the organ scholar at Inverness Cathedral from September 2012 to September 2013. As well as learning the rudiments of the organ and singing bass, he gained valuable experience of choral conducting.
Described by reviewers as ‘a highly capable musician, and a talent to watch’, Tomas continues to play the trombone and piano in addition to conducting and is currently undertaking study in solo playing and accompaniment with the pianist Eugene Asti.
“His Mahler Nine on a small chamber orchestra, reminiscent in its configuration of Schoenberg’s chamber groupings for private performances early last century, was outstanding…everything quintessentially Mahlerian was there, from the chamber music textures, properly proportioned in the reduced numbers, to the vast emotional flux of the music, all phenomenally characterised in Leakey’s pinpoint, understated interpretation.”
Michael Tumelty, The Herald, 27th September 2016