In 2002, violinist Malcolm Layfield begins his position as the new Head of School of Strings at Manchester's Royal Northern College of Music, an institution he has been involved with since the late '70s. The appointment is another step in what has been a distinguished career not only as an instrumentalist but as a teacher, conductor, and festival director. A champion of contemporary music, Layfield is the founder and director of the GoldbergRead more Ensemble, which consists of 11 solo string players. Since 1982 this group has presented several important and extensive festivals of new music as well as taking part in the international Bang on a Can program. Typical of the group's wide-ranging activities in contemporary music is the schedule for February 2002 in collaboration with the SPNM venue in London, at which time a group of composers will present new works for the group plus solo marimba. The schedule includes workshop sessions led by Layfield as well as evening concerts. But the finest chamber ensembles would never limit themselves to only contemporary music, particularly one with a name such as the Goldberg Ensemble. Appropriately enough, the group has also established an excellent reputation for its performances from the classical repertoire, particularly the music of Bach. This is a composer that Layfield takes quite seriously, as he is also the leader of the London Bach Orchestra.
Layfield studied at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and at the RNCM as a postgraduate student with Bronislaw Gimpel. He performed as a guest leader and soloist with many orchestras including the City of London Sinfonia, the Orchestra of St. John's Smith Square, the Northern Sinfonia, the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Welsh Symphony Orchestra. He has been featured with orchestras throughout the world as a conductor. In July 1994 he was guest concertmaster at the Carmel Bach Festival in California and also conducted the Goldberg Ensemble in a performance of Vesalii Icones by Peter Maxwell Davies at the Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival. Throughout his career he has pursued a busy teaching schedule which extends beyond instruction in violin, conducting, and chamber music at the Royal Academy of Music in London. Besides his activity with RNCM, he also teaches at Chetham's School and is strings advisor to the University of Huddersfield. In addition, Layfield has served as the artistic director of the Ryedale Festival. He helped develop the RNCM String Orchestra, conducting them in 1996 at their London premiere at the Barbican Centre. In conjunction with the RNCM ensemble he has helped present premieres by composers such as the Hungarian Thoma Simaku's Plenilunio for 11 solo strings, Michael Tippett's Concerto for Double Orchestra, Jennifer Fowler's Plainsong for Strings and both Deviations for String Octet and the Violin Concerto by Paul Patterson. The RNCM group recorded a special three-hour broadcast of music by Benjamin Britten for the BBC. Read less