Douglas Coombes, who was born in Bristol, England, read music at St Paul's College, Cheltenham and Dartington College of Arts, Devon, where he studied, in particular, composing and conducting.
In 1968 he joined the BBC as a music producer, working mainly in BBC Education, writing, producing and frequently broadcasting many programmes such as Time and Tune and Singing Together which regularly enjoyed audiences of around 2 million listeners weekly. In 1988, wanting to spend more time on composing and to offer more practical help to teachers and pupils, he left the BBC to become a freelance musician. Straightaway he founded The New English Concert Orchestra undertaking many performances annually in concert halls and in schools. He also started the National Junior Music Club, now called Musicworld which publishes resource magazines for schools and runs music courses for teachers.
Since 1988, combined with workshops for young people and often working with his wife, the soprano Carole Lindsay-Douglas, he averages around 150 performances a year. With his wife, he travels the length and breadth of Great Britain and Europe, works regularly in the USA and has worked twice in Hong Kong. In April 1999 he was in South Korea conducting his own music with various choirs. In 2002 he was once again in South Korea, directing workshops and working with one of the countries top professional choirs, the Suwon Civic Choral, who has just commercially recorded his Mass (1991).
Performing to young people is an important part of Douglas Coombes' work, but he gives concerts to all ages - or as he describes it "From nought to death!" He frequently appears in family concerts either conducting and/or narrating such works as Peter and the Wolf and his own compositions in the genre - Ting Tang the Elephant, The Treasure Trail, The Wonderful Adventures of Sindbad - a concert pantomime which he conducted in the Royal Albert Hall in 2002.
Douglas has conducted many of the UK's leading orchestras including The Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, The Scottish Chamber, The BBC Welsh, The London Concert, The Manchester Camerata, The Bournemouth Sinfonietta, The Northern Sinfonia and The New English Concert Orchestra. A recent conducting highlight took place when he directed the chamber orchestra in Benjamin Britten's War Requiem.
Douglas is a prolific composer and has written for all ages - professional and non-professional - and his output includes 2 symphonies, a requiem, 5 masses 3 operas, 2 ballets, orchestral music, songs, church music and music for children. Many compositions have been supported by grants from the Arts Councils of England and Scotland.
His most recent compositions include The World's Redeemer for Soprano Solo, Choir and Organ (for Paoli Presbyterian Church, Pennsylvania), Buffian, the Sorcerer's Apprentice for Children's Choir and wind band (for Bedford schools) Dance Variations for recorder orchestra (for the Peregrine Orchestra), Summer Serenade for Choir and Strings (for Hertford Choral Society) and An East Anglian Folk Song Suite for SSA choir, strings and harp, written for his own choir, the Amici Singers. He has just had published A Chance To Sing a book of 8 original songs on current social issues and 2 arrangements of Victorian ballads which was written to raise money for the charity Barnardo's. The book was launched this July (2004) at the Royal Albert Hall in a concert conducted by Douglas with a choir of over 1200 children. During the past few years he has conducted a number of concerts for Barnardo's at such venues as The Royal Albert Hall (London), Birmingham Symphony Hall, Leeds Town Hall, Ely Cathedral and Lambeth palace (London.) Also for Barnardo's, on November 5th, 2004, he conducted The New English Concert Orchestra in St. John's Smith Square, London for the concerto debut of the outstanding 13 year old violinist, Victoria Goldsmith
During the past few summers, Douglas has conducted the New English Concert Orchestra in the open-air Battle Prom concerts in England, held in such places as Attingham Park (Shropshire), Battle Abbey (East Sussex), Hatfield House (Hertfordshire), Losely Park (Surrey), Ragley Hall (Warwickshire), Stoneleigh Abbey (Warwickshire) and Stowe Landscape Gardens (Buckinghamshire). New venues for 2005 include Burghley House (Lincolnshire) and Blenheim Palace (Oxfordshire.)
Douglas Coombes is a popular lecturer and course director. He is Chairman of the Adjudicators Council of the British and International Federation of Festivals and adjudicates frequently throughout the UK and overseas.
For the last two years he has been the music director and consultant of the BBC's TV Song of Praise Competition to find the Senior and Junior School Choir and conducted the choirs in the two celebratory concert. He has been appointed to the same position for 2005
He is a member of various organisations - Association of British Choral Directors, British Academy of Composers and Songwriters, Mechanical Copyright and Phonographic Society, Musicians' Union and Society of Authors and Performing Rights Society. He is also one of the Patrons of the British Kodaly Academy. For recreation, he directs The Amici Singers, a women choir which he founded in 1978; over Easter 2005 the Choir will be making their 8th tour of the USA. He also enjoys watching rugby and cricket.