Guy Johnston


Guy Johnston is one of the most exciting and versatile British cellists of his generation. Born into a musical family, Johnston joined his brothers in the world-renowned choir of King's College, Cambridge, where he recorded the famous carolOnce 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 Guilhermina Suggia Gift, the Shell London Symphony Orchestra Gerald MacDonald Award and by 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. 

Johnston has made many important debuts including at the first night of the BBC Proms playing theElgar Cello Concerto with the BBC Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Slatkin, theBrahms Double Concerto in the Philharmonie with the DSO Berlin under Valchua, the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations with the St. Petersburg State Capella Orchestra under Dmitriev, the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Osaka Philharmonic under Otaka in Tokyo and theSchumann Concerto with the English Chamber Orchestra under Tilbrook. Among past highlights with leading orchestras areStrauss's Don Quixote with the National Youth Orchestra of Great Britain/Tortelier, theWalton Cello Concerto with the BBC Philharmonic under Tortelier, theDvorak Cello Concerto with the City of Birmingham Symphony Orchestra under Seal,Britten’s Cello Symphony with the Royal Northern Sinfonia under the baton of Ticciati and the  Shostakovich Cello Concerto No. 2 with the RTE National Orchestra under Altschuler in Dublin.

Johnston's more varied activities in recent years have also seen him on tour in Australia as the principal guest cellist of both the Australian Chamber Orchestra and 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, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Britten Sinfonia, among others. Recent seasons' highlights include the Walton Cello Concerto with theBBC 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’sThe Protecting Veil with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales. Future highlights include performances with the Ulster Orchestra, the BBC Philharmonic, the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra, the NHK Symphony Orchestra in Japan, a BBC lunchtime recital and a new Proms commission, among other activities.

Johnston's debut recital CD on Orchid Classics was released to widespread critical acclaim. The disc includes works by Bridge,Britten, and a new work byMark 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 Johnston as “an impeccable soloist” and BBC Music Magazine observed: “Guy Johnston's playing is searchingly beautiful and accurate.” Johnston 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.

Photo credit: Ben Wright

A founding member of the Aronowitz Ensemble, Johnston 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 closer to home in Cheltenham, Bath, and London. Among his chamber music collaborators are artists such as Alison Balsom, Janine Janssen, Lawrence Power, and Anthony Marwood, and ensembles such as the Belcea, Endellion and Navarra quartets. Johnston regularly performs at Wigmore Hall in London and is also the founding Artistic Director of the Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival. In addition to a busy and versatile career as an international soloist, chamber musician and guest principal, Johnston is an inspiring leader of young musicians as a patron of several charities which promote music education amongst schoolchildren and young people including 'Music First' and 'Future Talent.' He is a professor of cello at the Royal Academy of Music and a board member of the Pierre Fournier Award for young cellists.