(photograph: Wojtek Kutyla)





McLeod's new association with Chandos
Chandos announces that 10 works by John McLeod are now available on its online Chandos Artist Showcase label and can be downloaded as an MP3 file. McLeod has built up an increasing reputation for his orchestral, vocal and chamber works over the past 20 years and the selection represented here (many of them conducted by the composer himself) is an outstanding example of his brilliantly coloured, challenging and superbly crafted music.
Go to www.theclassicalshop.net  then in the search space enter John McLeod Mp3 and the tracks will appear.


  • John McLeod is one of Scotland's busiest and most prolific composers. He studied composition at the Royal Academy of Music with Sir Lennox Berkeley. His brilliantly coloured orchestral and vocal music has been performed and recorded in many countries by leading orchestras and soloists and his commissions have included works for the Philharmonia Orchestra, the RSNO the BBCSSO, the SCO (who made McLeod their associate composer from 1980-1982), the National Youth Orchestra of Scotland, and for artists such as Evelyn Glennie, Benjamin Luxon, Peter Donohoe, Jane Manning, Murray McLachlan and Colin Currie. His music has also been heard regularly at many UK Festivals including the London Proms, Edinburgh, Bath, Cambridge and St Magnus (Orkney Islands), as well as being featured in several European Festivals. Most of his works have also been heard on BBC Radio 3, Classic FM, BBC TV and Channel 4.  Since 1983 he has also composed a whole series of film and TV scores and from 1991-1997 he was Head of Composing for Film and Television at the London College of Music, Thames Valley University and a Visiting Lecturer at the Royal Academy of Music.

  • Many leading conductors have featured McLeod's music in their programmes and these have included Sir Charles Groves, Sir Alexander Gibson, Neeme Jarvi, Norman del Mar, George Hurst, Janos Furst, Kenneth Schermerhorn, Matthias Kuntsch, Takuo Yuasa, Rumon Gamba and a host of younger conductors.

  • In 1994 McLeod travelled to Poland where he conducted the Polish Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra of Cracow in a new recording of his orchestral music - Visions from the North (VMM3026), adding to the ever growing number of McLeod CDs now on the market.

  • Recently described by The Scotsman as 'a major force in contemporary Scottish music,' McLeod has won many prizes for his compositions including the prestigious Guinness Prize for British composers in 1979 which resulted in a major commission from the Philharmonia Orchestra. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Academy of Music in 1989. From 2000 to 2004 McLeod was also a Director of PRS for Music and BASCA.

  • Francis Morris, writing on McLeod in the new Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians, points out that the early works were strongly influenced by the aleatory techniques of Lutoslawski (whom McLeod knew and admired).  However, in 1989 (after a year spent as the Ida Carroll Research Fellow at the RNCM, where McLeod made a special study of Messiaen, Boulez and Birtwistle) a marked and profound change in his musical thinking, with respect to rhythm, tonality and energy took place.  This is particularly evident in the 1989 Proms piece The Song of Dionysius which he wrote for Evelyn Glennie, with its exploitation of fluctuating metres and the drama of instrumental role-play now present in much of his recent work.

  • In the past few years there has been a resurgence of interest in McLeod's music.  Recent successes have included Chinese Whispers (commissioned and performed throughout the UK by Fine Arts Brass) which was nominated for a British Composer Award in 2005, and a new Clarinet Concerto commissioned and performed by Linda Merrick who has also recorded it on CD with the Royal Northern College of Music Symphony Orchestra conducted by the composer. Percussionist Colin Currie has also recorded the Percussion Concerto with the BBC SSO under Yasuo Shinozaki and this was broadcast on BBC Radio 3 in March 2006.

  • In 2006 McLeod's Piano Sonata No.4 was premiered at the new Sound Festival in Aberdeen by Sam Haywood who commissioned it and in 2007 Fling for 2 orchestras (commissioned by BBC Radio 3) was given its first performance by 180 musicians at the opening concert of the Highland Year of Culture.

  • In 2008 a major new work Haflidi's Pictures - 12 aphorisms for piano, based on drawings by the composer Haflidi Hallgrimsson, was premiered at the Wigmore Hall by pianist Mark Tanner (who commissioned it) with the composer as narrator.  This has now been published by Europa Edition Ltd. and recorded by Mark Tanner as part of his new CD of British piano music on the  Priory label  PRCD1018.

  • 2009 saw McLeod’s works performed in Poland, Germany, the USA, London’s Wigmore Hall and throughout Scotland where he was a featured composer at Aberdeen’s ‘Sound’ Festival of contemporary music. In 2010, rising star guitarist Ian Watt played McLeod's new Guitar Concerto ( a joint commission from three orchestras) to wide critical acclaim, and also won for the composer a nomination in the 2010 British Composer Awards.  Also that year, a commission from the Carlisle festival resulted in a new work for choir, brass and organ - Imagined Corners.

  • McLeod was the featured composer in the Edinburgh Contemporary Arts Trust concert in the Queen's Hall in April 2011 which highlighted his new work for cello and piano The Song of Leda (Robin Michael and Peter Evans) and a rare performance of his little Chinese opera for solo percussion Thrashing the Sea God (Joby Burgess). A 5 star review in 'The Herald' next day stated that 'McLeod at 77 just seems to get better and better'.
  • Recent Press Comments:

McLeod must be counted a major force in contemporary Scottish music - The Scotsman

The Piano Sonata No.3 is a massive structure with hugely dramatic momentum and a simmering intensity that bubbles, boils and erupts with volcanic force - The Herald

The Song of Dionysius is forcefully energetic music, both imaginative and idiomatic - The Times

The Gokstad Ship - music with inspiration and power that overwhelmed the audience - Goteborg Post (Sweden)

In his Percussion Concerto, McLeod has created music of real diversity and breathtaking virtuosity - Nashville Banner (USA)

Symphonies of Stone and Water demonstrates the voice of a composer at the height of his craft speaking lucidly - The Scotsman

The Sun Dances uses a palette of textures that cover lush, Ravel-like sonorities and the spiky rhythms of a propulsive dance.  A beautiful and exciting piece - The Herald

A Moment in Time - a passionate and effective work. The Times

McLeod’s Chinese Whispers is a clever, resourceful work inspired by a recent visit to China. It found a musical format which brilliantly exploited the voices of the instruments and the personality of the players. Witty and imaginative music - The Herald

  • For further information please refer to entries on John McLeod in the following publications:

New Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians - Stanley Sadie (Macmillan 2001)
main entry under John McLeod other entries under Scotland, Edinburgh, Aberdeen and Evelyn Glennie)
Concise Oxford Dictionary of Music
- Michael Kennedy (OUP 1996)
The Penguin Dictionary of Music - Arthur Jacobs (Penguin Books 1997)
New Vocal Repertory Volume 2 - Jane Manning (Clarendon Press - OUP 1998)
The Complete Shostakovich Catalogue - Derek C Hulme (Clarendon Press - OUP 1991)
Good Vibrations - An Autobiography - Evelyn Glennie (Hutchinson1990)
The Great Scots Musicography (the complete guide to Scotland’s Music Makers)  -   Martin C. Strong (Mercat Press 2002)
Scotland’s Music (new edition) – John Purser (Mainstream 2007)

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  • John McLeod's catalogue is varied and extensive and includes orchestral works, concertos, symphonic song-cycles, choral works, church music, instrumental and chamber works, pieces for percussion, free-bass accordion and many solo works for piano, harpsichord and organ. He is now considered one of Scotland's foremost composers of songs and song-cycles and has also written many scores for film and television.
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Visions from the North
Vienna Modern Masters VMM 3026
The Gokstad Ship
The Whispered Name (Jane Manning)
Lieder der Jugend (Raimund Gilvan)
Polish Radio and Television
Symphony Orchestra of Krakow
conducted by John McLeod
A Dramatic Landscape (Andrew Wilson)
Royal Northern College of Music Wind Orchestra, conducted by Clark Rundell

Light in Darkness
RCA Victor BMG RD 60557
The Song of Dionysius
Evelyn Glennie (percussion)
Philip Smith (piano)

New York Counterpoint
Serendipity SERCD 0200

The Song of Phryne
Linda Merrick (clarinet)
Benjamin Frith (piano)








John McLeod Piano Music
Redbook Records RBCD 002

Murray McLachlan (piano)
Twelve Preludes
Piano Sonata No.1
Hebridean Dances
Four Impromptus
Piano Sonata No.3

Contemporary Scottish Piano Music
Merlin MRFD 891706

Piano Sonata No.1
Peter Seivewright (piano)

On the Wings of the Wind
Meridian CDE 84366

The Passage of the Divine Bird
Owen Murray (accordion)


(photograph: Margaret Murray McLeod)

Folk and Fantasy

Le Tombeau de Poulenc
Kenneth Smith (flute) Paul Rhodes (piano)

A stunning new video and DVD of Michael Radford’s prize-winning film Another Time, Another Place with music score composed and conducted by John McLeod is now available from www.amazon.co.uk

A new disc of British piano music featuring the world premiere recording of John McLeod’s -

‘Haflidi’s Picures’ – 12 Aphorisms based on drawings by Haflidi Hallgrimsson, preceded by 12 Epigrams written and spoken by the composer (premiered at London’s Wigmore Hall in July 2008).

Haflidi’s Pictures - Priory Records PRCD1018 – Mark Tanner (piano)

whimsical, even bizarre, and always entertaining – played with brilliant pianism’   Classical Net Review 

London 'Haflidi's Pictures' performed live on BBC Radio 3's 
'In Tune' (John McLeod with Mark Tanner and Sean Rafferty)

ALL THE ABOVE ARE AVAILABLE AT www.amazon.co.uk or www.tutti.co.uk

John McLeod's
Clarinet Concerto
performed by Linda Merrick 
with the Royal Northern College of Music 
Symphony Orchestra
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Listen to excerpts from John McLeod's recordings 
streamed RealAudio files.

To download the RealAudio player, click on the icon below:

No. 1 from Twelve Preludes
Murray McLachlan (piano)
The Floors are slippery with Blood from
The Whispered Name

Jane Manning (soprano) with the Polish Radio and TV Symphony Orchestra of Krakow
conducted by John McLeod
Danse from Le Tombeau de Poulenc
Kenneth Smith (flute) Paul Rhodes (piano)
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John McLeod's music and CDs can now be purchased on line from www.tutti.co.uk

The music of JOHN MCLEOD is published by GRIFFIN MUSIC. 

For all enquiries, please contact his publisher:


Other agents for John McLeod's music are:

Scottish Music Centre 
City Halls 
Glasgow G1 1NQ, UK

Tel: +44 (0)141 552 5222     




Europa Edition Ltd
Alison House 
12 Nicolson Square 
Edinburgh EH8 9DF, UK


For current performances and latest news about JOHN MCLEOD please visit:



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