John McPherson has been the Principal Trombone of the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra since 1980. He has also been a soloist, arranger, and has served as Composer-in-residence. The ESO has performed eight of his compositions and at least 50 of his arrangements. In November 2020, John had his ESO conducting debut, leading a small ensemble in a COVID-sized version of his Concerto for 2 Horns.
Prior to his position with the ESO, he played with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Hamilton Philharmonic, Kitchener- Waterloo Symphony, National Ballet of Canada Orchestra, and Canadian Chamber Ensemble. John is a native of Edmonton and his primary teacher and mentor was composer/trombonist Malcolm Forsyth.
In addition to the works he composed for the ESO, he has been commissioned by the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, I Musici de Montréal, Edmonton Recital Society, Debut String Quartet, and Grand Prairie College. He has received grants from Canada Council for the Arts, Alberta Foundation for the Arts, City of Edmonton, and Edmonton Arts Council. Performers of his works include the TSO, ESO, I Musici, Victoria Symphony Orchestra, Mark Fewer, Robert Uchida, Caroline Stinson, William Eddins, Lidia Khaner, Hammerhead Consort, NOWage Orchestra, Chamber Orchestra of Edmonton, and the Debut, Beau, Polyphonie, and XIA string quartets.
In support of the ESO’s outreach projects, John designed an educational and performance program for students in Fort McMurray and continues to be part of the ESO’s Young Composer Project, Adopt-a-Player program, Parkinson Project, and YONA (the ESO’s Sistema program). As co-founder and arranger of ESWAT (the Edmonton Symphony Wily Away Team), John has created more than 60 medleys and led over 200 tactical missions of surgical musical strikes to venues ranging from street corners and boardrooms to military bases and City Council Chambers.
John is married to ESO Principal Second Violin, Dianne New. They have two daughters and one grandson.
Having had a broad range of musical experiences, John believes that music of profound depth, humanity, beauty, and intelligence comes in a myriad of styles. Some of the most formative musicians for him were Tommy Banks, Malcolm Forsyth, Duke Ellington, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Frank Zappa, Beethoven, Mozart, and Messiaen.