Acclaimed tenor Ben Johnson has worked with some of the greatest conductors in opera and concert, including Sir Colin Davis, Sir Charles Mackerras, Andris Nelsons, Vladimir Jurowski, Marin Alsop, Sir Mark Elder, François-Xavier Roth, Edward Gardner, Frans Brüggen, Sir Andrew Davies and Sakari Oramo. He has made several appearances at the BBC Proms, performing at the Last Night in 2017, and has performed in most of Europe’s great concert halls as well as Carnegie Hall and Boston Symphony Hall in the USA.
On the opera stage, Ben has had a close relationship with English National Opera, including two celebrated runs as Alfredo in Peter Konwitschy’s La Traviata, Tamino in the British premiere of Simon McBurney’s Die Zauberflöte, Don Ottavio Don Giovanni, directed by Rufus Norris and a notable debut as Nemorino in Jonathan Miller’s L’elisir d’amore. In 2018 he returned to play Earl Tolloller in Gilbert and Sullivan’s Iolanthe which gained considerable critical success. Other operatic highlights include Tamino Die Zauberflöte for Welsh National Opera, Eisenstein Die Fledermaus and Don Ottavio Don Giovanni, for Opera Holland Park, Don Ottavio for Glyndebourne Festival Opera and Opéra National de Bordeaux, Lysander in Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream for Bergen National Opera, Oronte Alcina with The English Concert on a world tour, Bénédict Béatrice et Bénédict for Chelsea Opera Group, Carlo in Verdi’s Giovanna d’Arco for Buxton Festival Opera, directed by Elijah Moshinsky, the Novice Billy Budd at Glyndebourne, Martin The Tender Land by Copland at Opéra de Lyon, Basilio Le nozze di Figaro and Flute A Midsummer Night’s Dream for The Grange Festival and Eumete Il ritorno d’Ulisse in patria for Longborough Festival Opera.
In concert, Ben enjoyed a fruitful collaboration with the late Sir Stephen Cleobury and the Choir of King’s College, Cambridge, performing a wide-ranging repertoire that included the Evangelist in Bach’s Passions through to the Passio of Arvo Pärt. He has performed in Beethoven’s Fidelio with the London Philharmonic Orchestra and Vladimir Jurowski, Mozart’s Requiem with the Rundfunk-Sinfonieorchester Berlin (also under Jurowski) and with Andris Nelsons and the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera, and Bliss’s The Beatitudes with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, recorded for Chandos Records. Previous highlights include Nielsen’s Springtime in Funen at the BBC Proms, Britten’s War Requiem on Remembrance Sunday under Marin Alsop at the Royal Festival Hall, Tippett’s A Child of Our Time with Royal Liverpool Philharmonic, Schumann’s Das Paradies und die Peri for Festival de Saint-Denis, several performances and tours of Beethoven’s Symphony No.9 with the CBSO and Andris Nelsons as well as with the Royal Scottish National Orchestra, and Royal Northern Sinfonia, Berlioz’s Romeo et Juliette with Bergen Philharmonic, Bach’s Christmas Oratorio with BBC Scottish Symphony, Evangelist in St John and St Matthew Passions with the RTÉ National Symphony; St Matthew Passion with The Bach Choir and Residentie Orkest, Bach’s Magnificat and Elgar’s Dream of Gerontius with Britten Sinfonia, and Messiah with the Academy of Ancient Music and Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra. He has also performed Mendelssohn’s Lobegesang with the Gulbenkian Orchestra and Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn and Strings with the Residentie Orkest and at the BBC Proms.
As a dedicated recitalist, Ben performs regularly with Graham Johnson, Roger Vignoles, Louis Schwitzgebel and James Baillieu. With Graham Johnson he has given several performances at Wigmore Hall, the Klavier Festival Ruhr in Germany, Aldeburgh Music, and the duo have recorded songs by Poulenc for Hyperion Records and a disc of sonnet settings for Champs Hill. James Baillieu accompanied his acclaimed debut album of the Britten Canticles with Signum Records and a Rosenblatt Recitals disc of English song (as well appearing together in two live Rosenblatt Recitals). Ben also features on Malcom Martineau’s recorded surveys of Britten and Fauré and in 2020 was invited by Maria João Pires to curate and perform a programme of Schubert with her in Portugal. Most recently he has enjoyed collaborating with the British pianist Martin James Bartlett. They have given many performances of recitals that link the song and solo piano repertoire and brought such a programme to London’s Wigmore Hall. He also performs regularly with guitarist Sean Shibe, together completing an extensive and much acclaimed tour with Music Network Ireland in 2019.
Ben represented England in the BBC Cardiff Singer of the World 2013 and won the Audience Prize. A former BBC Radio 3 New Generation Artist and 2008 winner of the Kathleen Ferrier Award, he was also an English National Opera Harewood Artist and a Wigmore Hall Emerging Talent. Ben now enjoys a varied career as a singer, conductor, teacher and artistic director. He is the Founder and Chief Conductor of the Southrepps Sinfonia as well as joint Artistic Director of the Southrepps Classical Music Festival. He is a professor of singing at the Royal College of Music, London, and Festival Director of Cambridge Summer Music.
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YouTube playlist includes:
- Ben Johnson and Sean Shibe present a selection of loves songs from across the centuries. Programme includes: The Nightingale (Trad. Southern Appalachian) – The Wealthy Farmer’s Son (Trad. arr. Lucy Broadwood) – Adelaide – Ludwig van Beethoven – Ständchen – Franz Schubert – What Then is Love – Phillip Rossiter – Master Kilby (Trad. arr. Benjamin Britten) – To Couple is a Custom (from ‘Anon in Love) – William Walton
- Benjamin Britten (1913-1976): Canticles with Roger Vignoles, musical direction and piano; William Towers, countertenor; Ben Johnson, tenor; Duncan Rock, baritone; Camille Levecque, harp and Fernando Puig Parra, horn (recorded at the Juan March Foundation, Madrid)
- Ben Johnson and Graham Johnson talk about their CD of Sonnets released by Champs hill records.
- Dei miei bollenti spiriti, La traviata, Verdi (Rosenblatt Recital with James Baillieu)
“Ben Johnson makes more than usual of Ulisse’s loyal friend Eumente, his tenor lending weight to the shepherd’s philosophising.”The Telegraph
“Ben Johnson, elegant yet intense, is impeccable.”The Guardian
“Ben Johnson, whom I had heard before as Ottavio, sang exquisitely.”Opera Today
“As for Ben Johnson’s solo ‘Nigra sum’, it had a luscious, romantic creaminess.”The Arts Desk