Rod took up the cello at the relatively late age of twelve and by the age of 15 had performed Haydn's 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 Verdi’s 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 second ever performance in Britain of Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No.2.
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 conductor Bernard 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 world’s leading conductors and soloists, but also played in contemporary music ensembles with Irvine Arditti and was a founding member of the Rossetti Ensemble. During his time with the LSO he also played the music for many films including Star Wars, Superman and the Indiana Jones trilogy. Rod became principal cello of WASO in 1997 and also joined the Australian Piano Quartet at the same time. He has performed several concertos with WASO including Saint Saëns' Cello Concerto No.2. Rod plays on a Duke cello c1750 loaned to him by Chris and June Johnson of Cambridge, England.
Principal Cello Chair, Rod McGrath, is partnered by Tokyo Gas