John Harle is an Ivor Novello award-winning composer, record producer, and saxophonist whose work spans across musical genres from classical to contemporary pop.
John is the composer of operas, musical theatre shows, around fifty concert works and over 100 film and TV scores including the theme to BBC1's Silent Witness and the epic score to Simon Schama’s A History of Britain. He is the recipient of an Ivor Novello award and two Royal Television Society awards for Best Music.
Starting at the National Theatre in the late 1970's, John was an actor-musician, composer, musical director and instrumentalist for many years, including acting parts in plays by Edward Bond and Isaak Babel, musical directorships for Harrison Birtwistle and playing in the celebrated Guys and Dolls band for director Richard Eyre. John's own shows, A Quick Deco and To Those Born Later were featured at the National Theatre Platforms, The King's Head Islington, Hampstead New End Theatre and The Arts Theatre with actors Caroline Quentin, Jim Carter and John Golder. John's show Berlin Nights ran at The London Symphony Orchestra Pops series at The Barbican, featuring actors Ute Lemper and Albert Finney.
He was artistic advisor and producer to Sir Paul McCartney for six years, and other major collaborations have included albums and tours with Elvis Costello and Marc Almond.
A prominent media figure, he is a regular contributor to Radio 4 Front Row, and was a castaway on Desert Island Discs. He also contributes written articles to major publications.
John’s tribute album to Duke Ellington, The Shadow of the Duke was followed with collaborations with jazz artists such as Herbie Hancock and Andy Sheppard.
John was solo and lead saxophonist with the Michael Nyman Band for fifteen years, and was Musical Director of the band on tours in the US, UK and Japan.
He has been musical director and producer for Moondog, Herbie Hancock, Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Elmer Bernstein, Imelda Staunton, Ute Lemper, Lesley Garrett, Albert Finney, Kathryn Tickell, Michael Nyman, Sir John Dankworth, Dame Cleo Laine and Marc Almond. He is the founder and producer of Sospiro Records.
As a saxophonist, his early work gained public acclaim with his Saxophone Concertos album on EMI Classics which is widely seen as the definitive recording of the major classical works, and his playing has been the catalyst for an outpouring of new concertos by composers including Sir Harrison Birtwistle, Sir Richard Rodney Bennett, Marc Anthony Turnage, Sir John Tavener, Sally Beamish, Michael Nyman and Gavin Bryars.
John’s performance of Birtwistle's saxophone concerto Panic at the Last Night of the BBC Proms in 1995 was cited by many critics as the most controversial premiere of a new musical work since Stravinsky's The Rite of Spring in 1913.
He has performed with countless orchestras and conductors worldwide and has sold over half a million CDs in the classical field alone.
John was appointed the youngest ever Professor at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, starting the saxophone department at the age of 26, and his teaching has produced many of the leading players of today. He is now Professor of Saxophone and Composition at The Guildhall School, where he leads his own Master of Music course, as well as teaching academic modules in Musical and Cultural History.
He is the author of The Saxophone (Faber Music), the definitive reference work on saxophone playing and performance.
John is currently songwriting with Marc Almond (Soft Cell) for an album of pop torch songs for Sony/BMG, and writing a musical theatre piece, Mr Punch, with writer/director Patrick Marber. He is also arranger/producer for the new saxophone star Jess Gillam in a five album collaboration with Decca Classics.
Photo credit : John Harle © Nobby Clark - Henri SELMER Paris
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