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 world-renowned 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
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 world-renowned 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 seasons’ 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, and performances in Japan with the NHK Symphony Orchestra. Guy gave the first performance of the Howells Cello Concerto at the Cheltenham Festival and played a new cello concerto for the Proms in 2016 with the BBC Symphony Orchestra/Sakari Oramo.
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 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 Guest Professor of Cello at the Royal Academy of Music where he was recently awarded an Hon ARAM, is a member of the Faculty at the Eastman School of Music, Rochester, New York State, 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. Further 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 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.”
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.
Guy plays a 1714 David Tecchler cello, generously on loan from the Godlee-Tecchler Trust which is administered by The Royal Society of Musicians.
Guy has given a number of classes at various specialist music establishments and courses including: Read More
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.
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
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 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
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 2017
The 6th Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival was recently launched at a special concert in the Marble Hall, Hatfield House on Thursday 27th April. You can now see this year’s full programme, “Creation” 28th September – 1st October, by clicking here and watch this recent YouTube video
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.Read More
Recent reviews including the Guardian of the Howells Recording
Jane Cowan Remembered, Royal Academy of Music 26/2/17
I’ve come to know Jane through the stories I’ve heard. My Uncle use to go to the cello centre here in London and I was fortunate enough to study with a number of her students including Nicholas Jones, who is sorry not to be here today, Steven Doane, David Waterman and Steven Isserlis. All of them are sitting on my shoulders here at the Academy where I have the honour of teaching a vibrant class of cellists – Joel was playing in the ensemble just now – and I like to think that Jane’s influence continues to live on from the wisdom I have picked up along the way through these extraordinary people. If they are anything to go by, Jane clearly must have been a one off! I was having dinner with Steve and David the other night and we were considering the order of events for today. The stories of Jane were out in all their glory – Steve talks of Jane as a kind of saviour to him during a crossroads in his latter student years and David remembers one of his first experiences in Scotland when Jane apparently shrieked, “Fake!” and “Boring!” at him. If anything sounded unnatural, there were consequences! But these stories, and there are many more that we can look forward to hearing in a moment, also helped me to make sense of some experiences during Steven’s classes at IMS Prussia Cove. As a young aspiring cellist keen to make an impression on my childhood idol, I would often take criticism deeply personally particularly in front of peers who would be watching. “Why do you do that?” “What does it say in the score?” “Vibrato should not be automatic!” “Relax!” and one of the biggest insults of all, and similar to Jane’s outbursts, “Cellist!” In fact, it was not necessarily an attack on me, but rather more about a desire to serve the music first. It was about getting beyond ones instrument in search of the essence of the music and not just about playing the cello. All of these formative experiences studying with Jane’s protégés makes me realise what an impact she had on all their lives and that her influence continues to shine through them and all those for whom her passion, uniqueness and, dare I say it, eccentricities have rubbed off on. Steve, today is an inspired idea and as always the London Cello Society and the Royal Academy have been so enthusiastic in their willingness to make such an event happen. Bringing everyone together in this way to reminisce and share these moments with all of us makes it a particularly special occasion, and so without further ado I’d like to invite our panel of past students to the stage to share their memories of Jane with us.