Essex-born, David was an Academic Foundation Scholar of Brentwood School from 1970-77, then won an Organ Scholarship to Selwyn College, Cambridge, from where he graduated in 1981. Whilst 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, and in this capacity has performed at The Royal Albert Hall, Westminster Abbey, St George’s Windsor Castle, St Paul’s and most of the English cathedrals, as well as several in France, Belgium, Germany and Italy.
He 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. His founding of the Brentwood School Big Band in 1983 has seen this side of his musical interests develop, and lead to the creation in 2015 of The David Pickthall Big Band. He retired from the post of leading a department of three full-time staff and twenty peripatetic music specialists at Brentwood School in July 2014. 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 annually each February 2014-2017 for a concert of Film and Television Music, and is delighted to be doing so again this evening), and a series of popular jazz programmes for the local community radio station Phoenix FM.
An association with the National Film and Television School led to the composition of several film scores in the mid 1980s, including that for the Munich Prize-winning "Liebe Mutter" directed by Michael Caton-Jones, which prepared him for subsequent ventures in that field: he is proud that he is the musical voice of the villainous penguin in the Oscar-winning Wallace & Gromit “The Wrong Trousers”. David has periodically been found in the recording studio, often in Europe, where he conducts orchestral scores – recent work has been with the City of Prague Philharmonic (two projects for ITV, “The King’s Beard” and “Eddy and the Bear”), the BBC National Orchestra of Wales (“The Wyvern Mystery” for BBC1) and the BBC Philharmonic Orchestra (his music for CBeebies’ “Show Me Show Me”), whilst other original scores and arrangements have been recorded by the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Central Band of the RAF and the King’s Singers, amongst many others. Other work for television includes conducting the film of the popular children’s series “The Story of Tracy Beaker” and supervising the music for Julian Fellowes’ “Most Mysterious Murders” in 2005. He worked 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. In a musical life full of variety he also arranged and directed the choir for the end credits of the cult British horror film "28 Days Later".
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 in 1994. He is published worldwide by Samuel French Ltd.
David was awarded the MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2015, for “services to education and to charity”, and was elected a Freeman of The Worshipful Company of Musicians in 2016.
Since retirement from full-time teaching he has been busy playing the organ throughout Essex and beyond, adjudicating, conducting/arranging and enjoying current and future musical projects. Autumn 2017 saw him return to the recording studios in Prague with the City of Prague Philharmonic Orchestra, in his capacity as orchestral music supervisor for a series of films. This same year also marked his return as Musical Director to the award-winning youth music theatre group BOSSY, for their two 2018 productions: a concert marking their 15th anniversary in March, followed by a week's run of "The Phantom of the Opera" in the Brentwood Theatre in November 2018.
David took up the position of School Organist and Organ Tutor at Royal Hospital School, Holbrook, in September 2018 for six months. He now enjoys "retirement" from schools again, but knows musicians never really retire ....
For more information, see www.davidpickthall.co.uk.