John McPherson is a native of Edmonton and has been Principal Trombone of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra since 1980, having previously played with the Toronto Symphony, Hamilton Philharmonic, Kitchener-Waterloo Symphony, National Ballet of Canada, and Canadian Chamber Ensemble.
John has been a multi-faceted professional musician for over 40 years and is increasingly making his mark as a notable Canadian composer. He has served as Composer in Residence for the ESO and received commissions and grants from the Toronto Symphony, Edmonton Recital Society, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, Edmonton Arts Council, Grande Prairie Regional College, the Debut, Wild Rose, and Beau String Quartets. His works have been performed by the TSO, ESO, Festival City Pops Orchestra, Mark Fewer, Bill Eddins, Robert Uchida, Lidia Khaner, Hammerhead Consort, Take 3, Windrose Trio, NOWage Orchestra, Beau Quartet, XIA string quartet, and others. Many of these performances have been recorded and broadcast on programs such as Arts National, Two New Hours, and Alberta in Concert.
A versatile musician, John has not only played trombone with groups such as Manhattan Transfer, Tommy Banks Big Band, Edmonton Jazz Orchestra, and the Bad for Business Big Band, but also recorder with the Plumbers Union, euphonium with The Old Strathcona Town Band and Albertasaurus, and tuba with Diana Krall, Lee Konitz, and the Canadian Hot Stars. He has also performed with the Broadway touring companies of Book of Mormon, Wicked, A Chorus Line, Mary Poppins, Newsies, and The Lion King.
Sharing music with the community is vitally important to John. He continues to be part of the ESO’s Adopt-a-player program and the Young Composers Project. He has led workshops in composition and improvisation for students, teachers, and professionals; has been a clinician and adjudicator for music festivals and camps; and was the low brass instructor at the U of A’s Department of Music. Recently John developed an educational outreach project for students in Fort McMurray, where they created compositions and performed with an ensemble from the ESO.
A prolific arranger, he has crafted over 40 orchestral works as well as pieces for strings, brass ensembles, contrabass quartet, and YONA. As co-founder and arranger for ESWAT, the Edmonton Symphony’s tactical team, John has led over 200 missions of surgical musical strikes, surprising everyone from random passers-by, to the Canadian military, to City Council in chambers.