Room to Spare is a chamber duo made up of composer/performers Julia Connor (violin/vocals) and David Leach (piano/vocals). Built on the pair’s original, improvisation-rich compositions and evocative, virtuosic instrumentalism, Room to Spare is at once a gathering place for and conversation between their wide ranging musical influences. Dissolving barriers between diverse musical vocabularies—from jazz and classical to folk, rock, and pop—the duo invites listeners into the present with a genre-defying music of striking immediacy.
Formed from a desire to create music that would excite and challenge both a classically-trained violinist with a penchant for Irish fiddling and a jazz pianist with a heavy-metal habit, Room to Spare released their eponymous debut album in 2019. Of the album, Brad Wells (Founder/Artistic Director of the GRAMMY-winning ensemble Roomful of Teeth) said: “Room to Spare explodes with brilliance and promise…Connor and Leach bring both a blazing energy and, when desired, a broad and powerful calm. They navigate dense rhythmic and harmonic terrain while in other passages they revel in the joy of simple harmony and carefully voiced melody. Nothing gets tired or feels superfluous. The future is bright for these two – and, thanks to them, the future is brighter for contemporary chamber music.”
Room to Spare has performed throughout New York and New England. In June of 2022, they completed a residency at Avaloch Farm in Boscawen, NH, where they broke ground on their newest project, Invisible Cities, an 11-movement work based on Italo Calvino's book of the same name. The ensemble was virtually in residence at U.C. Riverside in 2020, where they worked with student composers and performed on the University’s Wednesdays at Noon concert series. In 2019, their performance of Salvage was recognized by WBUR Boston as one of the top entries from Massachusetts in NPR's Tiny Dest Contest . Later that year, the duo premiered David’s long-form composition Jonah in collaboration with drummer Vlade Guigni.
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.
Violinist Julia Connor has a wide-ranging musical voice, performing everything from baroque music on period instruments to fiddle music from Ireland to new works by living composers.
In addition to her work with Room to Spare, Julia is a founding member of the Berwick Fiddle Consort, an early music ensemble which performs traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, and Canada on historical instruments. She has also spent the past four years studying the East Clare Irish Music Tradition in both County Clare, Ireland and in the US.
Julia performs regularly on baroque violin, modern violin, and fiddle in the Boston area. Her solo playing has been featured on the Society for Historically Informed Performance (SoHIP) summer concert series (Boston), Kings Chapel Concert series (Boston), the Music by Women Festival (MS), and ClareFM radio (Ireland). Julia has been an artist in residence at PLAYA (Summer Lake, OR) and Avaloch Farm (Boscawen, NH).
Pianist, composer, and poet 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.
In addition to his work with Room to Spare, David leads a jazz quartet (The David Leach Collective) which performs his original compositions.
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, Jamey Haddad, and Peter Dominguez. In 2014, Downbeat Magazine recognized David as a member of The Little Big Band, awarded an Outstanding Performance among Undergraduate Small Jazz Combos across the U.S. David is also a poet, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Boston University where he studied with former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky. He was awarded a Robert Pinsky Global Fellowship for travel and study in Nepal and Japan in 2017 and has been in residence at Avaloch Farm (Boscawen, NH) and PLAYA (Summer Lake, OR).