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, 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 Chamber Musicm 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.

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Reviews —

[Dobrinka Tabakova's] Cello Concerto of 2008 follows modern archetypes by pitching the soloist into a fight-or-flight situation, which is steadily resolved during the course of the first movement. The central elegy is magnificently sustained, again by composer and cellist alike. Johnston makes the most of the part without overcooking it, and Delyana Lazarova is closely attentive to her soloists in music that yearns for the kind of ebb and flow not to be confined by metronome marks and barlines.

The Strad

Guy Johnston, by contrast, brings some fresh perspectives to the Cello Concerto – its central movement, ‘Longing’, is a particular favourite with audiences if the number of Youtube videos is any indication – slightly swifter in places than Blaumane’s but equally impressive.

Gramophone Magazine

Soloist Guy Johnston here gives a towering performance that responds to the score’s every shift in mood with complete assurance

BBC Music Magazine

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 —

Rebecca Dale: Night Seasons

Hailed by Classic FM as “one of today’s most exciting young composers” Rebecca Dale is a London based composer, working most often with large orchestral and choral forces in the worlds of cinema and theatre. Night Seasons is an album about hope, looking for the light in difficult times, written during a time of personal dif- ficulty while her father was terminally ill. With works written for choir and cello it strives to be a hopeful album, reaching for the wonder around us.

Dobrinka Tabakova: Orchestral Works & Concerti

Soloist Guy Johnston here gives a towering performance that responds to the score’s every shift in mood with complete assurance

BBC Music Magazine

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
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  • Nicola Semple