After years of giving casual, impromptu performances in unusual places—from campgrounds in American national parks to hostel courtyards in rural Spain to a mountain pass in the Swiss Alps—Julia Connor and David Leach officially formed the violin & piano duo Room to Spare in the spring of 2018. The duo’s name reflects the pair's spacious approach to music making, as they draw inspiration from a wide variety of musical traditions—from jazz and classical, to folk, rock, and prog-metal.
Highlights of Room to Spare's 2018-2019 season included an artist residency at PLAYA in Summer Lake, Oregon; concerts in Boston, Vermont, and New York City; and the release of their debut album (May 2019). Room to Spare was also recognized by WBUR Boston as one of the top 21 entries from Massachussetts to NPR's 2019 Tiny Desk Contest. Julia and David are graduates of the double degree program at the Oberlin College and Conservatory. Julia also holds a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music in Boston and David holds an MFA in poetry from Boston University, where he was a student of former US Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky.
Julia Connor fell in love with the violin at an early age, and after years of perfecting her air violin skills her parents finally took the hint and signed her up for lessons. She has since developed an eclectic musical palette which ranges from baroque music on period instruments to new works by living composers. In addition to her performances with Room to Spare, she is a founding member of the Berwick Fiddle Consort, which performs historical folk music on period instruments. She appears regularly in Boston with Emmanuel Music, Boston Baroque, Music at Marsh Chapel, and Grand Harmonie. Recent highlights include performances at (le) Poisson Rouge, New York’s Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the Oregon Bach Festival. In January of 2019 she joined the faculty of the Intercambio de Musica (Classical Music exchange program) at the world-renowned Panama Jazz Festival.
Julia also enjoys exploring and creating music that blurs the lines between classical, jazz, folk traditions, and free improvisation. She has collaborated on several recording projects with musicians at the Berklee Global Jazz Institute, including the Music Alliance Project, a genre-defying ensemble which unified a string quartet and a jazz trio under the leadership of pianist and composer Chase Morrin. An avid Irish fiddler, she has also performed in County Clare, Ireland as part of the annual Feakle Festival, including a special performance on Clare FM Radio and workshops with prominent Clare fiddlers Martin Hayes and Sorcha Costello.
Pianist and composer David Leach has been called “loud” by neighbors and “usually on time” by bandmates. He has performed with various jazz and blues groups in New York, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, and Washington D.C. as a pianist, composer, and arranger.
As a composer, David draws inspiration from a wide variety of musical styles and genres, from renaissance madrigals to American folk, from prog-metal to McCoy Tyner.
David has performed in masterclasses for such acclaimed artists as Kurt Rosenwinkle and the Punch Brothers, among others. He studied at Oberlin College and Conservatory with Dan Wall, Billy Hart, Peter Dominguez, and Gary Bartz. In 2013, Downbeat Magazine recognized David as a member of The Little Big Band, named one of the best undergraduate jazz ensembles in the U.S.