Emma Johnson is one of the few clarinettists to have established a busy career as a solo performer which has taken her to major European, American and Asian venues as well as to Africa and Australasia.
She is one of the UK’s biggest selling classical artists, having sold over half a million albums worldwide. Her recent recording of sonatas by Brahms and Mendelssohn with John Lenehan was described as “definitive…triumphant…a landmark disc” in The Observer and follows on from her classical chart-topping successes: Voyage and The Mozart Album on the Universal label. Her much admired recording of the Finzi Concerto was nominated for a Gramophone Award and Pastoral was chosen as CD of the Year by BBC Music Magazine.
Emma has appeared as soloist with many of the world’s leading orchestras in repertoire that includes all the major clarinet works as well as pieces written especially for her by John Dankworth, Will Todd and Michael Berkeley amongst others, a selection of which can be heard on her album with the BBC Concert Orchestra English Fantasy . She has also collaborated with artists such as Sir Yehudi Menuhin, Dame Cleo Laine, Julian Lloyd Webber, Lesley Garrett, the Takacs Quartet, Pascal Roge and John Lill.
She is director of Emma Johnson and Friends, a versatile wind and string group, whose recent live recording of the Schubert Octet was described as “a winner” by Music Web International. She is also increasingly in demand to give talks about music and to curate concert series. Her programmes about Gerald Finzi and John Milton on BBC Radio 4 were both chosen as Pick of the Week.
An exciting collaboration with composer Jonathan Dove has seen Emma working with children in workshops and performances throughout the UK to recreate the story of The Pied Piper. She has also given masterclasses in many countries and was a professor at the Royal College of Music, London.
Enthusiastic audience response to her jazz playing has inspired Emma to develop Clarinet Goes to Town, an entertaining programme of music tracing the origins of traditional jazz which has been a hit with audiences. She arranges music of many styles for the clarinet and books of her compositions and arrangements have been published by Music Sales and Faber Music.
Emma Johnson’s TV appearances range from a recital for Sky Arts TV to prime-time chat shows and gala concerts. She featured in the Channel 4 documentary about the late Sir John Dankworth and played the popular hit theme tune for The Victorian Kitchen Garden on BBC TV (winning a Novello Award). Her radio work includes Artist of the Week for both BBC Radio 3 and Classic FM as well as for radio stations around the world and she has been interviewed on programmes such as Woman’s Hour and Midweek on BBC Radio 4.
Emma grew up in London and her career was launched when in 1984 at the age of 17 she won BBC Young Musician of the Year followed by the Young Concert Artists Auditions in New York. However she decided to study Music and English at Cambridge University before embarking fulltime on a musical path. A Patron of ClicSargent, the childhood cancer charity, Emma was also the first woman to be made an Honorary Fellow of Pembroke College, Cambridge and was honoured by the Queen with an M.B.E. in 1996.
Emma plays an instrument made by the English clarinet maker, Peter Eaton.
“Emma Johnson has realised what lies at the heart of music making when it is at its best: she does not just perform but uses the music to communicate something wonderful.”