I first met and interviewed cellist Guy Johnston when he was 16, a pupil at Chethams School of Music and about to play a concert in Kings College Chapel, Cambridge with his elder brother Magnus Johnston, violinist.
Since then he has gone on to great things, winning BBC Young Musician of the Year in 2000, and playing all over the world. He has recently been appointed Professor of Cello at the Royal Academy of Music.
Now Johnston is directing a chamber music festival - the first, but it’s not intended to be the last - at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire, the county in which he and his siblings grew up. Hatfield House, home of the Marquis of Salisbury, is where the future Elizabeth I spent much of her 16th century childhood.
“It’s an ideal setting for chamber music - exciting for performers and audience alike” says Johnston, adding that he is bringing together internationally renowned musicians including Sophie Daneman, Esther Hoppe. Tom Poster, The Sixteen and the Aronowitz Ensemble to play in the Old Palace, the Marble Hall and St Etheldreda’s Church,.
There will also be an interactive concert for school children — an event which makes my education antennae twitch — and a lecture recital for families.
The inaugural Hatfield House Chamber Music Festival runs from Thursday September 20 until Sunday 23 September. Good luck with it, Guy. You’ve certainly come along way since that article I wrote for The Times in 1997.