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

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Biography

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Biography

Guy Johnston is one of the most exciting British cellists of his generation. His early successes included winning the BBC Young Musician of the Year, and significant awards, notably the Shell London Symphony Orchestra Gerald MacDonald Award, Suggia Gift Award and a Young British Classical Performer Brit Award.

 

He has performed with many leading international orchestras including the London Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra,BBC Symphony, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, and St Petersburg Symphony. Recent seasons have included a BBC Prom with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, concertos with The Hallé, Philharmonia Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia, and Orchestra of The Swan. Most recently, he has been the featured soloist of Taverner’s ‘The Protecting Veil’ for Britten’s Sinfonia 2024 UK and Ireland tour receiving critical acclaim in The Guardian and the Arts Desk.

 

Performances and recordings with eminent conductors have included collaborations with Alexander Dmitriev, Sir Andrew Davis, Daniele Gatti, Ilan Volkov, Leonard Slatkin, Mark Wigglesworth, Robin Ticciati, Sir Roger Norrington, Sakari Oramo, Vassily Sinaisky, Yan Pascal Tortelier and Yuri Simonov.

 

Guy is a passionate advocate for chamber music and recitals as founding Artistic Director of the Hatfield House Music Festival and performs regularly at prestigious venues and festivals across Europe including Wigmore Hall, Louvre Museum, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, and Three Choirs Festival, collaborating with instrumentalists such as Anthony Marwood, Brett Dean, Huw Watkins, Janine Jansen, Kathy Stott, Lawrence Power, Melvyn Tan, Mishka Rushdie Momen, Sheku KannehMason and Tom Poster.

 

A prolific recording artist often championing contemporary British composers, Guy’s recent releases include Dobrinka Tabakova’s Cello Concerto with The Hallé and Rebecca Dale’s ‘Night Seasons’ with the Philharmonia Orchestra. Other recordings include a premiere of Herbert Howells’ completed Cello Concerto with the Britten Sinfonia, a celebration disc of the tricentenary of his David Tecchler cello with commissions by Charlotte Bray, David Matthews, Mark Simpson and a collaboration with the acclaimed Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, where the cello was made. 2025 will bring forth Guy’s latest recording of Xiaogang Ye’s My Faraway Nanjing with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

 

He gave the premiere of Charlotte Bray’s ‘Falling in the Fire’ at the BBC Proms and Joseph Phibbs ‘Cello Sonata’ at Wigmore Hall. His 2024/2025 season will see the world premiere of Joseph Phibbs’ Cello Concerto for Guy and the BBC Symphony Orchestra. Other premières include Emma Ruth Richards ‘Until a Reservoir no longer remains’ and a recording of Matthew Kaner’s solo suite for cello.

 

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. He is Associate Professor of Cello at the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, New York and a guest Professor of Cello at the Royal Academy of Music, where he was awarded an Hon. ARAM in 2015. He has recently been appointed President of the European String Teachers Association and is patron of several charities which promote music education for school children and young people including Music First and Future Talent. He is also a board member of the Pierre Fournier Award for young cellists.

 

Guy Johnston plays the 1692 Antonio Stradivari cello known as the “Segelman, ex Hart” kindly loaned to him through the Beare’s International Violin Society by a generous patron.

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 2023

Thursday 28 September – Sunday 1 October

A Family Affair

As the planning developed, family connections began to emerge starting with the home of the Salisburys, whose family join together during the Festival weekend, and reaching out to the wider Festival family amongst the audience, musicians and even works being performed. Community is at the heart of this musical gathering.

Each year we celebrate some of the musical history of Hatfield House and this year include works composed during the reign of Elizabeth I. As always the repertoire includes a wide range of familiar as well as lesser known works and commissions that you can look forward to hearing for the first time.

Education is an important part of the weekend, and I’m delighted to welcome our new Education Manager, James Slimings; ESTA UK will be having a day of wellbeing, workshops and discussion on Saturday alongside our Festival activities; and it’s always a pleasure to have musicians from the Purcell School collaborating with illustrator, James Mayhew.

Ensembles made up of great friends, a married couple, siblings and family connections will appear throughout the weekend including Orsino WindsKaleidoscope Chamber CollectiveJulian Bliss Jazz QuintetJohnston BrothersBevan FamilyRuby HughesHuw WatkinsBen Goldscheider, vocal consort Ensemble Pro Victoria, and Orion Orchestra.

Thank you Lord and Lady Salisbury, Board of Trustees, volunteers, Festival Manager Lucy Bending and all our audience for your continued support, friendship and ovations along the way!

I hope you enjoy what I’m sure will be another memorable Festival.

For full programme information see: https://hatfieldhousemusicfestival.org.uk/2023-festival/programme/

Guy Johnston

 

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.

Read More

Press

News & Reviews

The Strad: A Reading List from Guy Johnston

Alongside his interview for The Strad Podcast, Guy Johnston shares the manuals and resources that have informed his playing and teaching career so far.

Guy discusses latest recording 'Night Seasons' in The Strad

"When I perform with a choir, I'm often reminded of vocalising rather than playing the cello." Read Guy Johnston's interview with The Strad about his latest album release, Rebecca Dale: Night Seasons, here

Blog

Jane Cowan Remembered, Royal Academy of Music 26/2/17

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.

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Guy Johnston