David Openshaw came to Northern Ireland as Principal Timpanist with the Ulster Orchestra in 1972. Shortly afterwards, on the retirement of Dr Havelock Nelson, he took over as Principal Conductor of the Studio Symphony Orchestra. He always tried to follow the example Havelock set in bringing both new and relatively unknown works, and indeed young and upcoming soloists, to the attention of Northern Ireland audiences.
During David's time as Principal Conductor he presented many Northern Ireland premières, included the 6th, 11th and 12th Symphonies of Shostakovich, Vaughan Williams' Symphonies No.2, the "London", and No.7, "Sinfonia Antartica", Beethoven’s complete Incidental music to Egmont, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice by Dukas, and Saint-Saëns Symphony No.3 “The Organ”.
David was the Studio Symphony Orchestra’s longest serving conductor when he retired from his position in March 2023. Under David's leadership, generations of local musicians benefitted from the opportunity to play in a professionally directed symphony orchestra, and all have learned and improved as musicians due directly to his highly skilled musicianship and ability to inspire his players.
David was appointed Conductor Emeritus on his retirement as Principal Conductor, and maintains a very close association with the orchestra he directed and developed so effectively over many decades.
David was awarded the MBE for services to music in the 2018 New Year Honours list.