Joanna MacGregor is a popular English classical pianist. She is recognised 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 combines the established piano repertoire complemented by her passion for jazz and new music and the championing of living composers in all traditions. She persistently challenges the divisions and labels which conventionally separate different traditions.
She has performed in over 60 countries often appearing as a solo artist with many of the world's leading orchestras. These include the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, London Symphony Orchestra, Sydney Symphony Orchestra, Netherlands Radio Philharmonic Orchestra, Oslo Philharmonic Orchestra, Chicago Symphony Orchestra, Rotterdam Philharmonic Orchestra, and Berliner Symphoniker. The many eminent conductors with whom she has worked include Pierre Boulez, Sir Simon Rattle, Michael Gielen, 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. She regularly plays with all the leading British orchestras and is familiar to television audiences from her many appearances including her series Strings, Bows and Bellows and the Last Night of the Proms.
Her collaborations have led her far afield. She has toured South Africa with jazz artist Moses Molelekwa, recorded with pop artist Talvin Singh, and appeared regularly with saxophonist Andy Sheppard, to a multimedia project Cross Border with Jin Xing’s Contemporary Dance Theatre of Shanghai. This toured China (with her own music combining traditional Chinese instruments and and computer technology) to great acclaim (and some controversy) in 2002. This year (2006) sees a new project of renaissance and electronic music with producer Brian Eno.
Joanna MacGregor made her conducting debut with Britten Sinfonia in 2002, and regularly directs her own orchestral projects including an all-Mozart programme with the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The most recent was the Moondog/Art of Fugue (BWV 1080) tour with the Britten Sinfonia and involving a radical re-working of Bach's late great work alongside the music of the famous 1950's New York street musician.
Joanna MacGregor has created her own record label based on this series, SoundCircus - The Label, the first recordings having recently been released to much acclaim. Among her recordings are a set of Bach's French Suites, a collection of Domenico Scarlatti's keyboard sonatas, and a collection of Erik Satie's piano music, all available on her own Sound Circus record label. She has also recorded for Collins Classics: a double CD set, Counterpoint, contains Bach's Art of Fugue and works by Conlon Nancarrow. SoundCircus has released many highly successful recordings including the Mercury prize-nominated album Play(released 2001), which features compositions as diverse as a piece by William Byrd and a collaboration between MacGregor and Talvin Singh. Her 2002 album Neural Circuits, features works by Olivier Messiaen, Alfred Schnittke, Arvo Pärt and Nitin Sawhney alongside music based on traditional Ghanaian melodies. Current releases include Deep River, music of the Deep South, with saxophonist Andy Sheppard, and the Moondog/Bach project (late 2006).
Working with and for young people is very important to Joanna MacGregor. She regularly gives master-classes and teaches at Dartington International Summer School, Hope University College, Liverpool and the Royal Northern College of Music. In 1997 she became professor of music at Gresham College in the City of London, giving free public lectures. She has also received honorary Professorships and Fellowships from the Royal Academy of Music and Trinity College of Music and an Honorary Doctorate from the Open University. She was the subject of a South Bank Show profile in December 2001. Her interest in education is reflected in a series of music books written for Faber Music, and published in May 2001. The first five of a series of teaching books ‘Piano World’ have been hailed as ‘worthy of the new millennium’.
Joanna MacGregor actively promotes other artists' work, and originated a highly regarded and successful series of annual contemporary music festivals in London - PLATFORM 1, 2 and 3, which ran from 1991 to 1993. She was Artistic Director of SoundCircus, a broad based series of concerts at Manchester's Bridgewater Hall. She is Artistic Director of the Bath International Music Festival, and is currently Artistic Director of the Society for the Promotion of New Music.