2018, 2015

Roderick McGrath


Principal Cello – West Australian Symphony Orchestra; Former Co-Principal – London Symphony Orchestra

Australian Hometown: Perth
Education: Royal Academy of Music, London

Rod took up the cello at the relatively late age of twelve and by the age of 15 had performed Haydn D major concerto with his local youth orchestra and the Elgar concerto aged 16 with WSO. At the same age he undertook his first professional engagement as principal cello with Dudley Opera in a season of Verdis Nabucco. Also at this time he joined the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain where he met his future professor Douglas Cameron and a young pianist Simon Rattle with whom he was to perform on many occasions. Rod became principal cello of the orchestra in his final year which involved performing at the BBC proms and Edinburgh Festival with Pierre Boulez playing the Rite of Spring and Music for Strings Percussion and Celeste.

Rod studied at the Royal Academy of Music and was made Principal cello of the Academy`s Symphony Orchestra in his first term, the first time this had happened in the Academy`s history. He also formed a string quartet with Elizabeth Hunt, which went on to win the Royal Overseas League competition.

His first performance at the Academy was not on the cello but on the piano playing the Rite of Spring for four hands with Simon Rattle. It was also with Simon that he played the 2nd performance in Britain of Schostakovitch 2nd Cello Concerto.

Rod was given leave of absence during his third year to join the London Philharmonic Orchestra as number two cello at the age of 21. Rod toured Russia the US and Europe with Haitink and the LPO and joined the LSO four years later as Co-Principal, where he stayed for twenty years. During his time in London he not only played with most of the worlds leading conductors and soloists but also played in contemporary music ensembles with Irvine Arditti and also was a founder member of the Rossetti Ensemble. During his time with the LSO he also played the music for many films including the Star Wars, Superman and Raiders of the Lost Ark trilogies.

Rod became principal cello of WASO in 97 and also joined the Australian Piano Quartet at the same time. He has performed several concertos with WASO and this year will play Saint Saens 2nd concerto and Rachmaninoff Vocalise in the Great Classics season. 

Rod plays on a Duke cello c1750 loaned to him by Chris and June Johnson of Cambridge.

Rod and his family became Australian Citizens in 2000 and live in Nedlands Perth. 

Last updated 2018