Professor Joanna MacGregor CBE

Head of Piano


Piano - Head of Piano
Research Programmes - Head of Piano

World-wide reputation as a concert soloist

Over 30 solo recordings

Experienced Curator/Director, most recently of Dartington International Summer School

Founder of her own label, SoundCircus

Studied at the Royal Academy of Music; Head of Piano here since 2011

Joanna MacGregor is one of the world’s most innovative musicians, appearing as a concert pianist, curator and collaborator. Head of Piano at the Royal Academy of Music and Professor of the University of London, Joanna is also known as an artistic director of festivals and concert series, including Bath International Music Festival and Dartington International Summer School and Festival.

As a solo artist Joanna has performed in over 80 countries and appeared with many eminent conductors – Pierre Boulez, Sir Colin Davis, Valery Gergiev, Sir Simon Rattle and Michael Tilson Thomas amongst them – and orchestras, including the London, Berlin, Chicago, Sydney and Melbourne Symphony Orchhestras, Oslo Philharmonic and Salzberg Camerata. She has premiered many landmark compositions, ranging from Sir Harrison Birtwistle and Django Bates to John Adams and James MacMillan. She performs regularly at major venues throughout the world, including Wigmore Hall, Southbank Centre and Barbican Centre in London, Sydney Opera House, Leipzig Gewandhaus, the Concertgebouw in Amsterdam and the Mozarteum in Salzburg.

Joanna is a regular solo artist at the BBC Proms and made her debut at the Mostly Mozart Festival in Lincoln Center, New York, in 2012. Known for her interpretations of Bach, she was invited by Sir John Eliot Gardiner to perform the Goldberg Variations at the Royal Albert Hall in 2013, broadcast live.

Joanna made her conducting debut in 2002 and has directed concerts with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Liverpool Philharmonic, Manchester Camerata and the Hallé. She has also enjoyed a close artistic partnership with the Britten Sinfonia for more than 15 years.

Multimedia is of great interest to Joanna, and in 2003 she toured China with Crossborder – created with Jin Xing’s Contemporary Dance Theatre of Shanghai, it combined Chinese traditional music with computer technology and film. Amongst the many and varied artists with whom she has collaborated are the soprano Carolyn Sampson, cellist Adrian Brendel, folk artist Kathryn Tickell, jazz saxophonist Andy Sheppard and Brian Eno. She is currently creating a multimedia project with the poet Alice Oswald, and was seen on BBC2’s Civilisations series with the Wayne McGregor Dance Company.

Joanna directed the multi-arts festival Deloitte Ignite 2010 at the Royal Opera House which included many new art commissions, including a year-long installation by the remarkable artist Alice Anderson. She was Artistic Director of the Bath International Music Festival between 2006 and 2012, and Artistic Advisor for Aventure+, a Luxembourg Philharmonie orchestral series in 2012-13. She was appointed Artistic Director of Dartington International Summer School and Festival in 2015, and directs an annual Summer Piano Festival at the Royal Academy of Music in London, involving over 100 young pianists. She is chair of the Paul Hamlyn Music Awards, and a 2019 Booker Prize judge.

As a recording artist Joanna is a veteran of over 30 solo recordings, ranging from Bach, Scarlatti, Ravel and Debussy, to jazz and John Cage. Her own record label SoundCircus
was founded in 1998 and has released many highly successful recordings, including the Mercury Prize-nominated Play and Neural Circuits, featuring Schnittke’s Concerto for Piano and Strings and music by Nitin Sawhney. Other acclaimed releases include Bach’s Goldberg Variations (recorded at the Mozarteum in Salzburg), Live in Buenos Aires with the Britten Sinfonia, a four-CD Messiaen set, and the complete Chopin Mazurkas. Jazz recordings include Sidewalk Dances – music by the New York street musician Moondog – and Deep River, music inspired by the Deep South, with saxophonist Andy Sheppard.

From 2015 to 2016 Joanna MacGregor was Visiting Musician
at Oriel College Oxford, and in June 2016 was awarded an Honorary Doctorate from the University of Cambridge. She
has received Honorary Doctorates from Bath University, Bath Spa University and the Open University, as well as Honorary Fellowships from the Royal Academy of Music, Trinity College of Music and Murray Edwards College, Cambridge. She makes regular appearances on television and radio, and was the subject of a South Bank Show. Her ongoing series of music books, PianoWorld, has been hailed as ‘a new series for the Millennium’.

Joanna MacGregor was awarded a CBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours in 2019.

Selected recordings

Piazzolla Libertango

Bach Aria from the Goldberg Variations

Gershwin Rhapsody in Blue

Bach French Suite no.5 in G major, BWV 816: Gigue – listen here

Lou Harrison Piano Concerto II. Stampede – listen here

Satie Gnossienne no.1 – listen here

Scarlatti Sonata in A flat major K.127 – listen here

Messiaen Louange à l'éternité de Jésus from Quatuor pour la Fin de Temps – listen here

In Conversation

Joanna MacGregor chats with Final Note Magazine about Bach, Mozart, writing piano manuals, working with Boulez, pedagogy, and her career as a pianist.





Staff Finder

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