Pivotal London conductor dies

Pivotal London conductor dies


norman lebrecht

October 29, 2013

We’ve been informed of the death of Leslie Head, founder of the Kensington Symphony Orchestra, an amateur ensemble made up mostly of music industry professionals. Leslie and the KSO have been instrumental in boosting many careers. Our sympathies to family and friends.




  • Peter says:

    He also founded and ran the London student company Pro Opera, staging many rarely-performed works. Made my singing debut under his baton in 1975, later collaborated with him briefly as an agent and last saw him in Brighton a few years ago, to where he had retired. A nice man. Sorry to learn this news.

  • Patsy Moore says:

    “…the boldest venture was perhaps KSO’s 1961 UK premiere of the vast, original 1901 version of Schoenberg’s Gurrelieder. The huge forces this required (eight of each woodwind instrument, for a start) put it way beyond the capacity and budget of most groups employing professionals. This, Head thought, was exactly where KSO should be coming in. Not everyone agreed. “I wrote to the Arts Council to ask for an extra £100,” he remembers. “And they answered saying that I shouldn’t even be attempting a work like this, and that they had told the National Association of Music Societies not to give us anything either.” The performance went ahead regardless, and was a huge success.”


    While I was a student of the late Geoffrey Gilbert at the Guildhall School of Music in London I had the fun and excitement of being one of the eight flute players in that memorable performance, which I think was in the Friends’ Meeting House in Euston Road, London. For years afterwards I had “Why do I know you?” encounters with other players from that huge orchestra!

  • Jenny Wson-Best says:

    This lovely man gave me one of my first jobs as an opera singer and was always so kind and supportive. I’ve been in the profession for nearly 30 years thanks to his helping hand at the beginning. RIP Lesie.