The British musician studied at the Royal Academy of Music and served several seasons as co-principal horn in the Philharmonia Orchestra
before switching exclusively to conducting. In 1986, via international competition, Leaper was selected as assistant conductor of the Hallé Orchestra
, a post he held for five years. It was during this period that he began recording, at first mainly with Czech and Slovakian orchestras, for Naxos.
Upon the expiration of his Hallé contract, Leaper entered a period of extensive guest conducting, making the rounds of European radio and provincial orchestras, as well as the leading orchestras of London. In 1994 he became director of the Orquesta Filharmónia de Gran Canaria, a position he held for seven years. With this ensemble, Leaper became more interested in Spanish repertory and made some 40 recordings. In September 2001 he shifted his activity to the RTVE Symphony Orchestra in Madrid, of which he is music director.
symphony cycle on Naxos was generally well-received in the mid-'90s, and his recordings often find favor with critics for their sense of musical architecture and for Leaper's ability to make secondary orchestras play well. On the other hand, Leaper is sometimes faulted, though not generally by reserved British critics, for somewhat staid readings of passionate music by the likes of Tchaikovsky, Mahler
, and Sibelius.