Gareth McLearnon

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Gareth McLearnon
Gareth McLearnon Wikipedia.jpg
Background information
Origin Belfast, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom
Genres Classical, Folk
Occupation(s) Flautist, Music Arranger, Composer
Years active 1996-present
Notable instruments
Flute, Contrabass flute, Ethnic Flutes & Whistles

Gareth McLearnon (born 17 January 1980) is a Northern Irish flautist, composer and arranger based in London, UK.

Early Life and Music Education[edit]

McLearnon began playing the flute aged 11 in his native Belfast, initially studying under William Dunwoody MBE [1] while making his way through the ranks of the 39th Old Boys Flute Band,[2] before going on to study with the Ulster Orchestra’s principal flute Colin Fleming. McLearnon’s first professional orchestral engagement was in 1998, sitting beside his teacher as deputy second flute with the Ulster Orchestra.

McLearnon moved to London in 1999 to attend the Guildhall School of Music and Drama where his principal teachers were Samuel Coles and Ian Clarke. Whilst still a student there McLearnon recorded with the flute-player, Sir James Galway and Harpist Marisa Robles for the charity CD commissioned by John Lubbock Songs for Alexander.[3]


McLearnon is a recipient of the 2003 Ian Fleming Charitable Trust Music Education Award from the Musicians Benevolent Fund, and a Countess of Munster Musical Trust Award, both of which went towards funding his postgraduate study with Samuel Coles (Principal Flute of The Philharmonia Orchestra) and with Michael Cox (Principal Flute of the BBC Symphony Orchestra).


Following postgraduate study, McLearnon gained a place for the 2005 season of Southbank Sinfonia [4] – performing around 90 concerts including fully staged opera, World Premieres, solo performances and a solo concerto.

McLearnon has been a freelance performer since 2006 and released his first album Sounds of Home in 2008 with pianist Michael McHale.[5]

McLearnon has been principal flute of The Heritage Orchestra since 2009 - playing concerts all over the UK and Europe including an arena tour with Tim Minchin in 2011 including at the O2 Arena; Antony & The Johnsons shows in London and Paris; Sparks and Ben Folds performances at the Barbican Centre; BBC Proms performances with Jamie Cullum in 2010 and with Pete Tong in 2015, and several shows with Goldie at the Royal Festival Hall in 2014 and 2015.

McLearnon has worked with the Concordia Foundation since 2003.[6] He has been an International Artist Ambassador with Concordia since 2008, performing concerts, including solo concertos, giving masterclasses, coupled with humanitarian work[7] all over the World, including tours to Shanghai, Monaco, Nairobi and Siena.[8]

As a soloist, McLearnon has premiered two flute concertos by James Penny and Owen Bourne – the latter entitled “Dine” being composed especially for him.[9] Other notable concerto performances with orchestra include Mozart’s D major Flute Concerto with the Orchestra of the Shanghai Opera House in the Shanghai Concert Hall in 2011, and Vivaldi’s Flute Concerto “La Notte” with Moscow Soloists, conducted by Yuri Bashmet in Yaroslavl in 2014.

McLearnon is also regularly engaged to deputise in London's West End Theatres. He has played in this capacity in a wide variety of shows since 2002 including Miss Saigon, The Lion King (musical), The Wizard of Oz (2011 musical), The Beautiful Game (musical), Wicked (musical), Lord of the Rings (musical), Oliver! and Love Never Dies (musical).

Educational Work[edit]

McLearnon began his educational work in 2005 with the Children’s flute-playing charity Flutewise. He has since given masterclasses and flute days all over the UK, and around the world, perhaps most notably as a flute tutor for Yuri Bashmet’s Gifted Young Russians Academies,[10] where since June 2013 he has given series of masterclasses and performances in Samara, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Tolyatti and Moscow.

Composing and Arranging[edit]

McLearnon is an active composer and arranger of music, and came to the attention of his publisher Theodore Presser Company following Sir James Galway playing one of Gareth's arrangements on Live from Lincoln Center on US Network TV in December 2004. Theodore Presser subsequently decided to publish a collection of his Irish Flute and Piano arrangements entitled "Round Ireland with a Flute"[11] which was released in August 2008 at the Kansas City NFA Convention.

McLearnon has also written widely for Flute choir and his notable original compositions include:

  • “The Flutewise Theme" for Graded Flute Ensemble (2010)
  • Fabulously Fugal, Fantasically Fleeting, Favourably Fruitful Fluting Fanfare for Massed Flute Ensemble (2013)
  • Single Yellow Line for Graded Flute Ensemble (2013)
  • Lamasery Jigsaw for Flute Ensemble (2015)

Work within the Flute Industry[edit]

McLearnon began his involvement with the flute industry in 1999 while still a student at the Guildhall, when he began working part time at the specialist flute shop Top Wind, in London. In October 2005, following the end of the Southbank Sinfonia concert season, he took up a position as Flute Specialist & Pearl Flutes Artist for the Japanese company Pearl Flutes in Europe – a position which he held until August 2014. After leaving the position at Pearl, McLearnon accepted a similar role as European Artist-in-Residence for the Wm. S. Haynes Co. of Boston, Massachusetts.[12] McLearnon is a Haynes Artist, and plays on a custom made 14K Gold Haynes Flute.


External links[edit]