John McLeod is one of the UK’s busiest and most prolific composers and has been resident in Edinburgh since 1970. He studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music with Sir Lennox Berkeley winning several prizes for his work. Later he came under the influence of Witold Lutoslawski whom he knew and admired. In 1979 he won the coveted Guinness Prize for British composers and in 1989 was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music.
His music has been commissioned, performed and recorded in many countries by leading orchestras including the Philharmonia, Hallé, BBC SSO, RSNO, SCO, NYOS and orchestras in Poland, Germany and the USA. International soloists such as Peter Donohoe, Murray McLachlan, Evelyn Glennie, Jane Manning, Benjamin Luxon and Colin Currie have also championed his music. Several important international festivals have featured his works, most notable being Edinburgh, Perth, St Magnus (Orkney), Canterbury and the BBC Proms. His catalogue of works is large and varied and covers most musical genres – orchestral, concertos, choral, church music, songs, instrumental and chamber music as well as scores for film and TV.
Recent works include Chinese Whispers for brass (nominated for a 2005 British Composer Award), a Clarinet Concerto, Piano Sonata No.4 and a large-scale orchestral piece Fling for 2 orchestras (commissioned by BBC Radio 3) and recently performed by 180 musicians. A new piano work Haflidi’s Pictures was premiered at the Wigmore Hall in July 2008 by pianist Mark Tanner whose new CD of the work has had international acclaim. The following year there was another Wigmore Hall premiere when Gillian Poznansky and Mark Tanner performed Quicksilver for flute and piano.
McLeod’s new Guitar Concerto (commissioned by three orchestras) was performed by Scottish guitar virtuoso Ian Watt in Edinburgh, Glasgow and at Aberdeen’s ‘Sound’ Festival of contemporary music and then went on to be nominated for a 2010 British Composer Award.
In April 2011 Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust (ecat) featured McLeod in their final concert of the season which featured a staged performance of his little Chinese opera for solo percussion Thrashing the Sea God, performed by Joby Burgess, and the world premiere of The Song of Leda for cello and piano, played by Robin Michael and Peter Evans.
Tête à Tête Opera will feature a new production of Thrashing the Sea God at Riverside Studios in August 2012.
Music being played: