Harold East is Canadian. He was born in Toronto in 1947 and came to England with his parents, brother and sisters at the age of nine. The family settled in Canterbury, where he was a chorister at the Cathedral under Dr. Sidney Campbell. Later, at the Royal College of Music, he studied organ with Ralph Downes, piano with Peter Element and composition with Joseph Horovitz. While a student he was joint winner of the BBC2 Song Competition, with a setting of a poem by W. B. Yeats.
He has taught piano/composition at the Colchester Institute and the Royal College of Music Junior Department. Currently he teaches piano at St. Paul's Girls' School, Hammersmith. As an examiner for the ABRSM he has travelled several times to the Far East.
He has composed music for brass instruments, piano, organ, chamber ensembles and choral works. Some recent performances of his organ works have been given by David Sanger at Bergen (Norway), Jeremy Suter at Magdalen College, Oxford and by Charles Harrison at Lienz (Germany), at Frederiksberg, Copenhagen and at Westminster Abbey. His Magnificat and Nunc Dimittis (2000) have been sung at Carlisle and Peterborough Cathedrals. His Fanfare and Celebratory Anthem (to words by Edmund Spenser) were performed at the Carlisle International Summer Festival 2000 by Fine Arts Brass and the augmented cathedral choir. A selection of his choral and organ works features on the first CD (2001) produced by the Wordsworth Singers, directed by Michael Hancock and Charles Harrison, while the song cycle, Songs of the Night is on the second CD (2003). The anthem, To the Trinity Be Praise! (to words by Hi!degard of Bingen) was commissioned for the Carlisle International Summer Festival 2003 and has since been sung by the chapel choir of the Royal Hospital, Chelsea and at Lincoln and Exeter Cathedrals. His Preces and Responses were commissioned by the Royal Hospital, Chelsea in late 2003. The Sonatinas for trombone, bass trombone and tuba are on the current Associated Board syllabus, as is one piano piece. Several works appear on the syllabus of the Guildhall School of Music and Drama.
His aim is to write music that is technically idiomatic and musically challenging for the player while at the same time appealing to the audience with attractive, melodic, harmonic and rhythmic invention. His compositions include sonatinas for solo brass instruments with piano, works for solo piano, organ, chamber ensemble and choral pieces.
Harold lives in Fulham. He and his wife return each year to Toronto and Stony Lake, Ontario.