Derek Gleeson

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Derek Gleeson
Derek Headshot Smile with Baton.jpg
Background information
Origin Dublin, Ireland.
Genres Orchestral/contemporary
Occupation(s) Conductor/composer
Instruments Piano, timpani & percussion

Derek Gleeson is an Irish/American musician. Born in Dublin, Ireland. He is currently the music director and conductor of the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra[1] (since 1997) and has been the conductor at the Anna Livia Dublin International Opera Festival.(Now disbanded) Since 2012 Gleeson is also music director & conductor of the Rachmaninov Festival Orchestra. Since January 2016 Gleeson is Principal Guest Conductor or The Harbin Symphony Orchestra, Harbin, China. (A city of 10 million people) He also composes musical scores for film and television[2] and of symphonic music for the concert hall.

DPO Conductor Derek Gleeson

Early musical life[edit]

At age twelve, Gleeson was timpanist of the Irish Youth Orchestra. At age fifteen he joined the European Community Youth Orchestra (ECYO) (now the European Union Youth Orchestra, EUYO)[3] as percussionist and timpanist, where he had the opportunity to work under the great conducting masters of the day, including Herbert Von Karajan, Claudio Abbado, Leonard Bernstein, Sir Georg Solti and Daniel Barenboim, whilst performing, amongst others, at the Salzburg Festival, the Edinburgh Festival, Lucerne Festival as well as at the BBC Proms at the Royal Albert Hall. In parallel, he was also a member of "EuroJazz"[4] The European Community Youth Jazz Orchestra and NYJO, The National Youth Jazz Orchestra of Great Britain,[5] with whom he featured as Vibraphone soloist in the CD release of Paul Hart's Concerto for Classical Guitar and Jazz Orchestra, written for Guitarist John Williams, released on CBS Records.

At 15 years old, as freelance timpanist and percussionist, Gleeson began working with the RTÉ Concert Orchestra and the RTÉ Symphony Orchestra while still attending High School. Between 1979 and 1989 he performed as a freelance orchestral player with many of the prominent British Orchestras, and the Chamber Orchestra of Europe.[6] In 1984 he was a prize winner in the Shell/London Symphony Orchestra Music Scholarship. During this period he also worked as a Studio Session Musician, principally as a Keyboardist and Piano player for pop/rock and commercial recording sessions. Gleeson studied Piano and Timpani & Percussion at the Royal Academy of Music, London, and Composition and Film Scoring at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA).

Whilst living and studying conducting in Vienna at the Hochschule für Musik und darstellende Kunst, Wien(University of Music and Performing Arts, Vienna) Gleeson sang second bass with Gunther Theuring's,[7] Wiener Jeunesse-Chor,[8] with whom he performed with the Wiener Philharmoniker[9] at the Musikverein.[10] (Gleeson also studied Voice periodically with the famed Irish vocal teacher Veronica Dunne at the Dublin Institute of Technology Conservatory of Music & Drama.

In 1989, Gleeson "won" a US Green Card (NP-5 Visa) in the US Donnelly Visa lottery and moved to Los Angeles where he attended UCLA, studying Film Scoring and Composition.


In December 1989, Gleeson moved to Los Angeles, left the world of the freelance orchestral musician, and directed his time exclusively to conducting and composition.

Gleeson has conducted the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the RTÉ Concert Orchestra, the National Symphony Orchestra of Ireland, Orchestra da Camera Fiorentina, in Italy, the Bohuslav Martinů Philharmonic, the Karlovy Vary Symphony Orchestra, RTL Orchestra, the NOS Nederlandse Omroep Stichting Orchestra, ); the Danish Radio Concert Orchestra, Orchestra of the Sadlers Wells Royal Ballet, Bulgarian National Radio Symphony Orchestra, Philharmonia Bulgarica, in Bulgaria; the Vratza Philharmonic Orchestra, the Los Angeles Composers Guild Chamber Orchestra, the Ruckert Chamber Orchestra, Orchestre Symphonic de Bretagne (France), Hradec Kralove Symphony Orchestra (Czech) The National Ballet of China Symphony Orchestra, Varna State Opera, Plovid State Opera, Bourgas State Opera, the Tehran Symphony Orchestra and the Harbin Symphony Orchestra, Harbin, China.

Gleeson conducted the premier CD recording of Tchaikovsky's Ode to Joy,[11] The original Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture and Prokofiev's Zdravitsa with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Choir.[12]

In 2015 with Symphony Orchestra of Brittany and celtic rock guitarist Dan Ar Braz.

In 2009, Gleeson and the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra made the largest orchestral tour of the USA that year, to over 49 cities, under the auspices of Columbia Artists Management, Inc.[13]

In 2010, Gleeson and the DPO toured China, performing at the Shanghai Grand Theatre's World Expo Program,[14] and two concerts opening the Beijing Summer Festival "Roam about the Classics"[15] from the National Centre for the Performing Arts (NCPA) at the Opera House, televised throughout China to over 400 million people.

In January 2016 Gleeson lead the Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra on its second tour of China, performing in Suzhou, Wuhan, Tianjin, Harbin and Changsha.


Gleeson composed Film Scores for the feature films The White Pony[16] (Director Brian Kelly); Irish Whiskey[17] (Director Jon Stevens); Moving Target[18] (Director Paul Ziller); The Doorway[19] (Director Michael Druxman); Kitchen[20] (Director Kieron J Walsh) and additional music on The Suicide Club[21] (Director Rachel Samuels).

In addition to composing music for film, Gleeson is Director of Ceoil Productions Ireland/Screen Training Ireland's Film Scoring Program. He served as composer advisor to Moonstone International and as Music Jury chairman and Composer of the Irish Film & Television Awards (IFTAs). Gleeson is Director of Ireland's "MA in Scoring for Film & Visual Media", a Pulse College/Windmill Lane Studios/Dublin Institute of Technology collaboration.


  1. ^ "The Dublin Philharmonic Orchestra". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  2. ^ IMDB reference/
  3. ^ "Alumni tales". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  4. ^ "EuroJazz – Dictionary definition of EuroJazz | FREE online dictionary". 10 February 2012. Archived from the original on 14 October 2015. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  5. ^ "NYJO". NYJO. 26 October 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  6. ^ "Chamber Orchestra of Europe | Home". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  7. ^ "Wiener Meisterkurse". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  8. ^ "Wiener Jeunesse-Chor (Choir) – Short History". 17 April 2011. Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  9. ^ Stephan M. Siber, MSc – Enyox: human centered informatics. "Wiener Philharmoniker | Das Orchester, die Konzerte, Neujahrskonzert". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  10. ^ "Der Musikverein – Startseite". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  11. ^ playlist time:. "Maestroderekgleeson". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  12. ^ "Prokofiev: Zdravitsa, op 85; Tchaikovsky: Ode to Joy, Original Romeo & Juliet Fantasy Overture: London Philharmonic Choir, Sergey Prokofiev, Pyotr Il'yich Tchaikovsky, Derek Gleeson, London Philharmonic, Dimitri Kharitonov, Alla Ardakov, Alexandre Naoumenko, Ludmilla Schemchuk: Music". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
  13. ^ Souvenir Brochure
  14. ^ Shanghai brochure
  15. ^ "roam about the classics". Retrieved 18 February 2012. 
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