Leigh’s Bio

Well it all began when I started banging out Christmas carols on my family’s Casio keyboard in Whyalla, South Australia at the age 7. In order that I might actually do this accurately, mum and dad enrolled me in electronic keyboard lessons at age 8. In order that I might actually do this with some style (and without a synchronized back-beat), they then enrolled me in classical piano lessons at age 11.

Being a typically neurotic Capricorn, I initially opted for the security of life as an Industrial Chemist after high school and, in fact, won a University Medal for my studies. Consequently, I broke my Chemistry lecturer’s heart when I told him that, rather than doing post-grad research with him, I was going to move to Adelaide to study music. I think he envisaged this lab-coated boffin suddenly skidding off the rails rebelliously and ending up a penniless bohemian busking in the gutters somewhere.

Now, no-one’s to say that that’s still not waiting around the corner, but my first step into the Elder Conservatorium put me in the hands of a wonderful teacher called Gil Sullivan and started me on a journey that’s been a heady rush ever since. Ridiculously, I acquired another University medal. But quite apart from that, I’ve been lucky enough to perform on some of the world’s great stages, including the Mozarteum in Salzburg, the London Royal Academy of Music, and St Magnus’ Cathedral in the Orkney islands.. In 2007 I got my own back on all my Uni lecturers by undertaking an extensive tour of the United States and Canada where I lectured on and performed the solo piano music of Robert Muczynski – a neglected composer whose music I’ve grown quite fond of. Last year, I got to return to Adelaide and play a concerto with the Adelaide Symphony Orchestra there at an open air concert in front of 25,000 people. Man, there’s nothing like it, and I wouldn’t swap it for anything.

I’m determined that as a pianist I don’t want to live a solitary life, so collaborating with other musos is one of my greatest joys. It’s been an unqualified joy to partner people such as Daniel Gaede, ex- concertmaster of the Vienna Philharmonic Orchestra; London flautist Wissam Boustany;; Swedish cellist Mats Lidstrom; and British pianist Mark Gasser, to name just a few.

A few years ago I had an epiphany when I travelled with a friend to Paris and played a perversely difficult piece by Pierre Boulez for flute and piano to Sophie Cherrier – principal flute lecturer at the Paris Conservatoire. I realized that the masochist in me enjoyed the challenges of piecing ear-stretching modern music together with like-minded musicians. It seemed inevitable, then, that I’d fall in love with Laila and Julia. I’ll never forget the day I met them for our first rehearsal together. The day had not been going well – I was tired and grumpy after getting off a late flight, I’d played a bad concert earlier that day, and I was convinced my boyfriend was getting ready to dump me. Not only did our fabulous, energising rehearsal wipe the memory of the bad concert, but when I finally did get dumped a couple of days later, they proved equally adept at cracking open the red and helping me drown my sorrows. Clearly it was a match on all levels.

The Adelaide Advertiser has said I’m a ‘musician of rare talent and intelligence’. The Age has said I have ‘considerable pianistic gifts’. My parents just want me to ‘stop playing that modern rubbish and go back to the Christmas Carols already’.

They also keep telling me I need to eat more.