Guy Johnston


At a glance

Guy Johnston


"A gripping performance"
New York Times

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, the Shell London Symphony Orchestra Gerald MacDonald Award and a Classical Brit. He has performed with many leading international orchestras including the London Philharmonic, Philharmonia Orchestra, Ulster Orchestra, BBC Philharmonic, NHK Symphony Orchestra, BBC Symphony, Britten Sinfonia, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, Orquestra Sinfônica do Estado de São Paulo, Moscow Philharmonic and St Petersburg Symphony under conductors such as Illan Volkov, Sakari Oramo, Vassily Sinaisky, Yuri Simonov, Alexander Dmitriev, Sir Roger Norrington, Robin Ticciati, Yan Pascal Tortelier, Sir Andrew Davis, Leonard Slatkin, Daniele Gatti.

Recent seasons have included a BBC Proms with BBC National Orchestra of Wales, concertos with Philharmonia Orchestra, Orchestra of Opera North, BBC Philharmonic, BBC Symphony Orchestra, Aurora Orchestra, Royal Northern Sinfonia and Staatsorchester Rheinische Philharmonie. His upcoming highlights for the 2022/23 season are Dobrinka Tabakova’s Cello Concerto with The Hallé, Tchaikovsky’s Variations on a Rococo Theme with Orchestra of The Swan and festival appearances at Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival, Thaxted, Killaloe and Winchfield.

Guy continues to play chamber music and recitals at prestigious venues and festivals across Europe including Wigmore Hall, Queen Elizabeth Hall, Louvre Museum, the Moscow Tchaikovsky Conservatory, Moritzburg Festival, Three Choirs Festival and MusicFest Aberystwyth, collaborating with instrumentalists such as Melvyn Tan, Sheku Kanneh-Mason, Janine Jansen, Lawrence Power, Anthony Marwood and Brett Dean. Guy was privileged to perform as part of the Wigmore Hall and BBC Radio 3 special series of concerts, livestreamed during the COVID-19 pandemic.

A prolific recording artist, Guy’s recent recordings include Howells’ Cello Concerto with Britten Sinfonia (a piece he also gave the premiere of) and a celebration disc of the tricentenary of his David Tecchler cello, collaborating with the acclaimed Orchestra dell’Accademia Nazionale di Santa Cecilia in Rome, where the cello was made. The 2019 season saw the release of his recording Themes and Variations with Tom Poster, comprising works by Beethoven, Schumann, Mendelssohn, Chopin, Rachmaninov, MacMillan, Fauré and Martinu.

Guy is a passionate advocate for contemporary composers regular commissioning, performing and recording new works. He gave the premiere of Charlotte Bray’s ‘Falling in the Fire’ at the BBC Proms in 2015 and Emma Ruth Richards ‘Until a Reservoir no longer remains’ (with Sheku Kanneh-Mason). He has recently commissioned works by composers such as David Matthews, Mark Simpson, Joseph Phibbs and Matthew Kaner.

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 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 is Artistic Director of the Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival and a founder member of the award-winning Aronowitz Ensemble. 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.

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.

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Reviews —

“The secret to performing Howells’s music – apart from ensuring those rich harmonies are bang in tune – is to catch its very English way of expressing deep feeling, which works by repression and hints rather than direct statement. Guy Johnston does this especially well in his performance of the Cello Concerto, which emerges as a substantial piece. And it’s not all repression; with the surprisingly joyful and energetic Finale he really seizes the moment.”

Daily Telegraph

" A gripping performance"

New York Times

“The playing is consistently polished and elegant"

BBC Music Magazine

"Guy Johnston was a magnificent soloist, delivering luminous, long-spun melodies like the most gentlemanly of baritones, and presenting virtuoso torrents as if they were second nature."

Arts Desk

Selected Discography —

Howells Cello Concerto

eloquent performance" 5 Stars

BBC Music Magazine

Themes and Variations

sparklingly played with an effortless sense of style and brio, captured truthfully in glowing sound

The Strad

Holst Invocation

“Guy Johnston captures its wistful, yearning quality to perfection, surfing the music’s impassioned dynamic range with a beguiling, velvet sonority that opens out thrillingly in moments of special intensity.”

The Strad

Tecchler's Cello

“Johnston offers a stunning tour-de-force. Imaginatively conceived and beautifully performed, this disc is a winner.”

Classical Music Magazine

Moeran Cello Concerto

In Guy Johnston[,] [the Cello Concerto] has a soloist entirely sensitive to its swift and sometimes paradoxical changes of mood: this is an effective performance of a little-heard and underrated work.

BBC Music Magazine


...gripping performance

The New York Times

David Matthews Orchestral Works

Guy Johnston is a technically immaculate soloist

BBC Radio 3
See full discography

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  • Nicola Semple