Conductor & Musical Director
As musical director Graham is the regular conductor for the Leeds Guild of Singers (based at Leeds University), Bedlington Singers & Children's Choir, Grassington Singers, Leeds University Staff Choir, and Pennine Singers. Other current and recent work includes forming a Prisoners Chorus at HMP Northumberland, directing his own Leodis Chamber Orchestra, and professional ensemble Contraband, working as a guest conductor with Skipton Camerata, and a recent spell directing the Hepton Singers.
Graham regularly directs large scale choral “Come & Sing” events and workshops - the most recent of which brought more than 100 singers together for Tallis 40 part Spem in Alium and Strggio's 40 part Ecce Beatem Lucem drawn from a number of Yorkshire choirs and individual singers. He has long standing experience of conducting the mainstream choral society repertoire, including, eg, Requiems by Mozart, Fauré, Brahms, Haydn Creation, Haydn & Mozart Masses, Rossini Stabat Mater, Borodin Polovtsian Dances, and especially repertoire such as Poulenc Gloria, Orff Carmina Burana and such rarities as Prokofiev Alexander Nevsky.
Other work has included conducting the New Music Ensemble and Chamber Choir at Huddersfield University in a number of his own works, and in classics such as Maxwell Davies Eight Songs for a Mad King, Judith Weir's Musicians Wrestle Everywhere and with his own professional ensemble Contraband, Walton's Facade, etc.
In summer 2013 Graham was guest conductor for a "Choral Spectacular", with 150 singers, soloists, organists and Lindley Brass Band at Leeds Town Hall celebrating the great British choral tradition, with music by Mendelssohn, Elgar, Parry, Britten, as well as Wagner, Verdi and more.
Opera and music-theatre projects include, eg, Cavalli's La Calisto & Beethoven's Fidelio (Leeds College of Music opera course), Graham's own The Witch of Slatterdale (Swaledale Festival), and with Compact Opera, touring his ACE commissioned opera Giovanni's Women.
He has worked with orchestras including Sinfonia 21, BBC Philharmonic, Orchestra of St John's, Orchestra da Camera, Atherstone & Bedworth Choral Societies, University choirs and orchestras at Leicester, Leeds and Bradford and in theatres, concert halls and arts centres across the UK.
in rehearsal with Skipton Camerata
“This excellent concert featured the Skipton Camerata with Graham Coatman in the triple roles of festival director, composer and conductor . . . began with a mellifluous reading of the rarity – Mendelssohn’s String Symphony No 12 in G minor. Poulenc’s Organ Concerto is one of his most powerful scores. Poulenc would surely have approved of the fine performance given by the orchestra and the Abbey’s organist Michael Haynes. After the interval came the première of Graham Coatman’s The Devotions of Eddi. The score, which was commissioned by the Skipton Camerata, celebrates the 1300th anniversary of the death of St Wilfrid. The composer uses the orchestra to provide the tempest, and contrasts it with three sopranos & chamber organ who narrate the text. In Graham Coatman’s interpretation, the miniature cantata progressed purposefully from turbulence to calm, with the clear chording of Laura Kishimoto, Lucy Morton and Eleanor Ripman’s voices being particularly pleasing. Tchaikowsky’s famous Serenade concluded this admirable and enjoyable festival concert.” – James Foster, Hexham Courant
Graham Coatman’s assured musical and artistic leadership has been a hallmark throughout his career. A clear and supportive conductor, he is encouraging and inspiring when bringing together a large choral work or “Come and Sing” event. His integrity and consummate musicianship come to the fore in contemporary repertoire and when working with professionals, whether in theatre or concert hall.
Graham’s mother used to describe how he conducted music on the radio from his high chair – that's where he started, and he’s never looked back! As a student at Bristol he conducted the first (and probably the last!) British performances of Martinu’s 1-act opera Ariadne, and was also co-founder Musical Director of Bristol Intimate Opera, a small independent opera group, which launched the career of international baritone Andrew Shore.