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David Pickthall, Conductor

Picture of Andrew Wright Master of Music Brentwood Cathedral

David Pickthall received an MBE in the 2015 Honours List for his contribution to the musical life of Brentwood. On the day of the announcement, the chairman of the BCF, David Worsfold , said: Many congratulations from everyone associated with Brentwood Choirs Festival on the MBE announced in this morning’s Honours List. It is a most thoroughly deserved award for your huge contribution to so many aspects of the musical life of Brentwood over many years but especially for your work at Brentwood School. You have enriched our community and we are all deeply grateful to you.

David Pickthall was an Academic Foundation Scholar of Brentwood School from 1970-77, and then won an Organ Scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge, from where he graduated in 1981. While at Cambridge he was taught composition by the late Sir Philip Ledger and Hugh Wood, and the organ by Dame Gillian Weir. He is a Fellow of the Royal College of Organists. David spent the year 1981-1982 gaining his teaching qualification at London University. A teaching post back at Brentwood School followed, and in 1987 he became Director of Music. Twenty seven years later he is in his final year of leading a department of three full-time staff and twenty peripatetic music specialists. He was presented with a Civic Award for Services to the Arts in Brentwood in 1997, in recognition of his founding/conducting of the Brentwood Philharmonic Orchestra (an orchestra to which he returned in February 2014 for a concert of film and television music), and a series of popular jazz programmes for the local community radio station Phoenix FM.

Outside Brentwood School’s walls, he may be found in the recording studio, often in Europe, where he conducts film scores – recent work has been with the City of Prague Philharmonic (two projects for ITV, The King’s Beard and Eddy and the Bear) and the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (The Wyvern Mystery for BBC1), while his original scores and arrangements have been recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Central Band of the RAF and the King’s Singers, among many others. He is proud that he is the musical voice of the villainous penguin in the Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit The Wrong Trousers. Other work for the BBC includes conducting the film of the popular children’s series The Story of Tracey Beaker and supervising the music for Julian Fellowes’ Most Mysterious Murders in 2005. He has recently been working for Channel Four as musical arranger for The Paul O’Grady Show, and conducted the London Symphony Orchestra for the Australian group INXS’ orchestral sessions.

David is the composer of two operas and three musicals, one of which – Ain’t Life Good!– written originally for Harrow School and starring a young Benedict Cumberbatch, was awarded the Barclays Best New Musical Prize after a South Bank performance in1994. He is published worldwide by Samuel French Ltd. Retirement has enabled more composing, arranging, playing of both organ and piano, conducting and being a very enthusiastic dinner-party guest.