“Joanna MacGregor's career is practically built on a reinvention of the star virtuoso tradition, applied to the often cerebral and style-oblivious world of contemporary music.”
(BBC Classical Review, Joanna MacGregor ‘Play’ album, March 2004)
Joanna MacGregor is thought of as one of the world’s most wide-ranging and innovative musicians and has pursued a life connecting many genres of music defying categorizations. She has performed in over sixty countries often appearing as a solo artist with many of the world's leading orchestras. These include the New York Philharmonic, London and Sydney Symphony Orchestras, Netherlands Radio and Oslo Philharmonic Orchestras and Chicago Symphony Orchestra. The many eminent conductors with whom she has worked include Pierre Boulez, Sir Simon Rattle, Sir Colin Davis and Michael Tilson Thomas. She has premiered many landmark compositions ranging from Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Django Bates to John Adams and James MacMillan.
Her experience in the world of chamber music is wide and various; she has curated concerts at many distinguished venues, from the South Bank and the Albert Hall (for the BBC Proms) in London, to a weekend celebrating British music in New York. From 1999 to 2005 she was the President of the West Cork Chamber Music Festival in Ireland.
Joanna MacGregor made her conducting debut in 2002 and regularly directs her own orchestral projects, including an all-Mozart programme with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. She has had a very close artistic partnership as conductor and performer with the Britten Sinfonia for the past ten years; her programmes have ranged from Bach, Mozart and Beethoven concerti to new commissions and collaborations with jazz musicians. The most recent was the Moondog/Art of Fugue tour, involving her radical re-working of Bach's late great work (for orchestra and jazz musicians) alongside the music of Moondog, the famous 1950's New York street musician who excelled in counterpoint and swing beats. In April 2007 Joanna MacGregor and the Britten Sinfonia tour South America together.
Her collaborations have led her far afield. She has toured South Africa with jazz artist Moses Molelekwa, recorded with pop artist and tabla player Talvin Singh and toured China with Jin Xing's Contemporary Dance Theatre of Shanghai (for which she wrote a new score combining Chinese traditional music with computer technology and film). Last summer saw a major new project with the legendary producer Brian Eno, linking the music of John Dowland, Thomas Tallis and William Byrd with contemporary music.
As a recording artist Joanna MacGregor has made 15 solo recordings for Collins Classics, ranging from Bach, Scarlatti, Ravel and Debussy, to jazz and contemporary music. Her own record label SoundCircus was founded in 1998 (after the ground-breaking concert series at the Bridgewater Hall in Manchester) and has released many highly successful recordings including the Mercury prize-nominated 'Play' (including music by Bach, Ligeti and Piazzolla) and 'Neural Circuits', with music by Messiaen, Arvo Part and Nitin Sawhney. Current releases include the Moondog/Bach project with Britten Sinfonia, 'Sidewalk Dances'. Throughout her recording career, Miss MacGregor has had a particular affinity for American music; her very first recording was of Ives, Copland, Nancarrow and Thelonious Monk; her SoundCircus catalogue includes John Cage's 'Sonatas and Interludes for Prepared Piano' and Lou Harrison's Piano Concerto, and one of her most recent releases is 'Deep River', music inspired by the Deep South, with saxophonist Andy Sheppard.
Joanna MacGregor has broadcast regularly on BBC radio, and on European, Australian and American networks. Aside from several appearances at the Proms, including the televised Last Night of the Proms, Miss MacGregor has appeared many times on television, including presenting the ten-part series 'Strings Bows and Bellows', which has been shown worldwide. She was the subject of a South Bank Show profile in 2003.
After studying composition at Cambridge University, and piano at the Royal Academy as a post-graduate, Miss MacGregor has been closely linked with the Royal Academy of Music, where she was made a visiting Professor of Piano. She has received honorary Fellowships from the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music, and an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University. From 1997-2000 she was Professor of Music at Gresham College, London where she gave a series of public lectures. She has been artistic director of the Society for the Promotion of New Music and served on the Arts Council from 2000 - 2004. Her interest in education is reflected in a series of music books for young children written for Faber, 'PianoWorld', hailed as 'a new series for the Millennium'. She regularly gives masterclasses both in UK and abroad (and for many years was visiting piano tutor at Dartington International Summer School), and is appointed Professor at Liverpool Hope University 2006-7.
Joanna MacGregor is Artistic Director of the Bath International Music Festival
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