Leon King is a musician and teacher with over twenty five years experience as a professional freelance orchestral player in the UK. He studied with Rudolph Botta in Manchester and Roger Best of the Alberni Quartet in London before winning a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music where he continued his studies with Stephen Shingles, the principal violist of the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. At the RAM he also studied chamber music under the renowned quartet leader Sidney Griller and composition with Paul Patterson and Edward Gregson. At that time Leon’s chief interest was in contemporary music and he participated in rehearsals, concerts and masterclasses with Adrej Panufnik, Krysztof Penderecki and Sir Michael Tippett. He also received additional coaching on viola from Max Gilbert, Ian Jewel and John White.
After graduating, Leon worked as a freelance player with a wide range of British orchestras including the Academy of St. Martin-in-the-Fields. He also began to take an interest in period instrument performance, studying with Jan Schlapp. He was soon working with a number of period instrument orchestras including the Hanover Band, the Academy of Ancient Music, Gabrieli Consort and the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and is an experienced specialist in period performance practice.
Through his work as a performer with period instrument ensembles Leon developed an interest in playing the viola d’amore and this has led to his editing eighteenth century music written for the instrument, much of it previously unpublished. In 2001 he founded a publishing business, Quall Publications, devoted to this repertoire. His catalogue includes an Urtext edition of the complete works for viola d’amore by Vivaldi as well as works by Telemann, Graupner, Ariosti and Pezold.
Leon taught viola at the Royal College of Music Junior Department from 1988 to 1997. A number of his students went on to become professional performers themselves.
In 2003, Leon undertook teacher training and was head of a music department at a busy secondary school for several years before returning to freelance playing and instrumental teaching.
As a viola d’amore player, Leon has given many solo performances including concertos by Vivaldi and Telemann and obbligato parts in Bach’s St John Passion and works by Vivaldi with many different orchestras in the UK. He recently performed in Chicago at the 15th International Congress of the Viola d’amore Society of America with Chicago based period instrument ensemble The Baroque Band led by British violinist Garry Clark.
Leon currently divides his time between performing, teaching violin, viola and viola d’amore, and creating modern editions of eighteenth century music for viola d’amore, much of which has not been previously published.
Performing Vivaldi’s Concerto in d minor RV393 for viola d’amore at the 15th international Viola d’amore Congress in Evanston, Chicago with The Baroque Band 23rd June 2010