Guy Johnston

Johnston has already forged a place as one of the country’s most promising and distinctive cellists. (The Strad).

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 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.