"Guy Johnston gave a lucid performance that was coloured equally with passion and intensity"

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Biography

Guy Johnston is one of the most exciting and versatile British cellists of his generation. Born into a musical family, Guy joined his brothers in the worldrenowned choir of King’s College, Cambridge, where he recorded the famous carol Once in Royal David’s City, under Stephen Cleobury. He went on to achieve important early successes through the BBC Young Musician of the Year title, the Guilhemina Suggia Gift, the Shell London Symphony Orchestra Gerald MacDonald Award and receiving a Classical Brit Award at the Royal Albert Hall. His mentors have included Steven Doane, Ralph Kirshbaum, Bernard Greenhouse, Steven Isserlis and David Waterman. Read Complete Biography

Biography

Guy Johnston is one of the most exciting and versatile British cellists of his generation. Born into a musical family, Guy joined his brothers in the worldrenowned choir of King’s College, Cambridge, where he recorded the famous carol Once in Royal David’s City, under Stephen Cleobury. He went on to achieve important early successes through the BBC Young Musician of the Year title, the Guilhemina Suggia Gift, the Shell London Symphony Orchestra Gerald MacDonald Award and receiving a Classical Brit Award at the Royal Albert Hall. His mentors have included Steven Doane, Ralph Kirshbaum, Bernard Greenhouse, Steven Isserlis and David Waterman.

He has made many important debuts including at the First Night of the BBC Proms playing the Elgar Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra/Slatkin, the Brahms Double Concerto in the Philharmonie with the DSO Berlin/Valchua, Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations with the St. Petersburg State Capella Orchestra/ Dmitriev in St. Petersburg, the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Osaka Philharmonic/ Otaka in Tokyo, and the Schumann Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra/ Tilbrook. Among past highlights with leading orchestras on these islands are ‘Don Quixote’ with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain/Tortelier, the Walton Cello Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic/Tortelier, the Dvorak Cello Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra/Seal, Britten’s Cello Symphony with the Royal Northern Sinfonia/Ticciati, and Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 2 with the RTE National Orchestra/Altschuler in Dublin.

Guy’s more varied activities in recent years have also seen him on tour in Australia as Principal Guest Cello of the Australian Chamber Orchestra and Guest Principal Cello of the Royal Concertgebouw Orchestra in Amsterdam while also continuing to perform the core cello concerti with orchestras such as City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, the Royal Northern Sinfonia, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, and the Britten Sinfonia, among others. Recent season’s highlights include the Walton Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic and RTÉ National Symphony Orchestras conducted by John Wilson, the Elgar Concerto with Sir Roger Norrington, Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Moscow Philharmonic Orchestra, Elgar with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the late Sir John Tavener’s ‘The Protecting Veil’ with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, performances in Japan with the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Future plans include the first performance of the Howells Cello Concerto at the Cheltenham Festival, a new cello concerto for the Proms 2016 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo and a new recital CD.

A founding member of the Aronowitz Ensemble, Guy is an enthusiastic chamber musician and has enjoyed regular appearances abroad at festivals such as Delft, Moritzburg, Spoleto, Gaia and Bad Kissingen as well as Cheltenham, Bath, and the City of London festivals at home. Among his chamber music collaborators are solo artists such as Janine Janssen, Lawrence Power and Anthony Marwood, and ensembles such as the Belcea, Endellion, Carducci and Navarra quartets. Guy regularly performs at Wigmore Hall in London and is also the founding Artistic Director of the Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival. Guy also regularly collaborates with prestigious choral groups such as The Sixteen, BBC Singers and the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, with whom he recently performed Ola Gjeilo’s O Magnum Mysterium as part of the widely broadcast ‘Carols from King’s’.

In addition to a busy and versatile career as an international soloist, chamber musician and guest principal, Guy is an inspiring leader of young musicians as a patron of several charities which promote music education with schoolchildren and young people including Music First and Future Talent. He is a Professor of Cello at the Royal Academy of Music where he was recently awarded an Hon ARAM, and is a board member of the Pierre Fournier Award for young cellists.

Guy’s debut recital CD on Orchid Classics was released to widespread critical acclaim. The disc includes works by Bridge, Britten, and a new work by Mark Anthony Turnage with pianist, Kathryn Stott. The New York Times review of this disc refers to “Mr. Johnston’s burnished and varied sound…”. Other recordings include concertos by David Matthews and Edward Gregson for Chandos with the BBC Philharmonic/Gamba and BBC Concert Orchestra/Tovey. Recent releases include the Moeran Cello Concerto with the Ulster Orchestra/JoAnn Falletta, two works by Frederic d’Erlanger – Ballade and Andante Symphonique with the BBC Concert Orchestra/Wildner and David Matthews’ imagining of Vaughan Williams’ unfinished cello concerto ‘Dark Pastoral’ with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra/Martin Yates. These recent recordings of relatively unknown cello works have been overwhelmingly well-received in the press; Gramophone described Guy as “an impeccable soloist” and BBC Music Magazine observed: “Guy Johnston’s playing is searchingly beautiful and accurate.”

Guy plays a 1714 David Tecchler cello, generously on loan from the Godlee-Tecchler Trust which is administered by The Royal Society of Musicians. He has recently commissioned a number of short new works to celebrate its third centenary, by composers including Charlotte Bray, David Matthews and Mark Simpson.

Full Biography

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Masterclasses

Guy has given a number of classes at various specialist music establishments and courses including: Read More

Masterclasses

Guy has given a number of classes at various specialist music establishments and courses including:

  • Eastman School of Music, N.Y, U.S.A (Guy’s Alma Mater)
  • Chetham’s School of Music, Manchester
  • Bromley Youth Music Trust, London
  • Yong Siew Toh Conservatory of Music, Singapore
  • Royal College of Music, London
  • Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama, Cardiff
  • Birmingham Conservatoire
  • Youth Music International, Oxford, U.K
  • Aberystwyth Music Festival, Wales

Guy is honoured to be a Professor of Cello at The Royal Academy of Music.

Charity

Guy supports a number of charities and has performed fundraising concerts for The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust, Dogs for the Disabled, CLIC Sargent and Macmillan Cancer charities. Read More

Charity

Guy supports a number of charities and has performed fundraising concerts for The Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust, Dogs for the Disabled, CLIC Sargent and Macmillan Cancer charities.

In addition, Guy is extremely honoured to be a Patron and Trustee of:

  • Pierre Fournier Award
  • Future Talent
  • Music First/National Orchestra for All
  • Kampala Music School
  • Niemann Pick Disease Group UK
Future Talent

Future Talent gives financial awards and guidance to young musicians who are clearly demonstrating outstanding musical ability or potential, but do not have the financial means to reach their goal.

Guy first became involved with the Charity after meeting the Duchess of Kent, Founder and Trustee of the Charity, in 2000. He was particularly touched that the Charity allowed children, who would not otherwise have the opportunity to pursue musical dreams, to experience music and express themselves in music for the first time.

Since then, Guy has performed a number of concerts to raise money and the profile of the Charity. More information can be found at www.futuretalent.org

Niemann-Pick Disease Group UK

The NPDG (UK) was established over 20 years ago to help provide support and information to families caring for those with Nieman-Pick Disease. The charity also aims to raise awareness of the disease and promote research into the cause and possible treatments. The Group has to date raised over £1,000,000 for this cause.

This rare disease causes brain degeneration, learning difficulties, problems with muscle co-ordination and severe feeding, swallowing and speaking difficulties. Guy became aware of the disease and charity when, in 2000, he met Tony Jellings (Head of Fund Raising), whose daughter very sadly suffers from the disease. Brain injury and degeneration issues are important to Guy. When Guy was 16, his eldest brother Rupert was involved in a car accident leaving him brain damaged and cutting short his promising career as a French Horn player.

Guy performs a concert annually to raise money for the NPDG (UK), and more information on this charity can be found at www.niemannpick.org.uk

Hatfield House
Chamber Music
Festival

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Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival 2017

The 6th Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival will be launched at a special concert in the Marble Hall, Hatfield House on Thursday 28th April. The dates for the Festival are the 28th September – 1st October, 2017

www.hatfieldhousemusicfestival.org.uk

Projects

  • 2017
    #tecchler300

My cello was made in Rome in 1714 by David Tecchler. 300 years on, I decided to mark this special anniversary by commissioning 3 new works as gifts for the cello and to take the cello back home all these years later.

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Press

News & Reviews

Bach Suites in Rome Artsdesk Review 6/2/17

Read the full review here Rather perturbingly, hall and orchestra sounded more comfortably accommodated with each other the following afternoon, when I dropped into their recording session with the cellist Guy Johnston.

Blog

The other Haydn Concerto.. 15/2/17

The other Haydn Concerto.. 15/2/17

Last year I was due to perform the Haydn Concerto with a European Chamber Orchestra. Since it just said “Haydn Concerto” on my schedule I assumed it would be the C Major Concerto, which is the work I perform more than the other. Surely if it was the D Major Concerto it would have been made clear to me that it wasn’t the usual Haydn concerto I often perform with this particular orchestra. I sat down in my chair for the rehearsal a couple of hours before the performance and the director started to sing the first phrase of the D Major Concerto to me asking if it was the tempo I had in mind. I laughed out loud and, possibly marked by the silent response from both him and the orchestra, realised he was probably offended that I was laughing at his singing, but I wasn’t! I was sure that he was joking (it has been done once before), and so I said as much. The orchestra were already late from their travels and there really wasn’t much time for joking. Then it dawned on me he wasn’t actually joking. This was the stuff of nightmares – I went over to look at his music and it was indeed the D Major Concerto on his stand! I couldn’t believe it. In shock, I started speaking with the manager of the orchestra about the possibility of performing some Bach instead, apologising for the administrative error (of course it wasn’t my fault..!), but the audience were expecting to hear a Haydn Concerto. As I had recently performed the C Major Concerto with the orchestra we agreed we would look to see if the parts were available online, which thankfully they were. There was no way I could perform the D Major Concerto having only just found out I came prepared with the wrong Concerto and the concert was almost an hour away. Thank goodness the orchestra and management were understanding enough and, as they say, the show must go on!

Not long after this experience, the Orchestra of the Swan invited me to perform a Haydn Concerto with them for this concert in Malvern and even gave me the luxury of deciding between the two concertos – it’s actually quite a tough decision because I love both of them. However, much influenced by this recent incident I decided it was time to revisit the D Major Concerto after all, and there will be no excuses this time.. Let’s hope the orchestra don’t make the same mistake that I did last time turning up with the wrong work on the night!

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Guy Johnston