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Classical Circuit Podcast Episode 4 — Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston

Host Ella Lee chats with the award-winning English mezzo-soprano about her views on the classical music world 


Launched this year, Ella Lee’s classical music podcast, “Classical Circuit” explores the intricacies of the classical music industry, and all that comes with working in it. Hailing from across the profession, the podcast guests discuss their careers and personal opinions. 

“Classical Circuit” is now available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, and Google Podcasts. We had a chance to talk to Ella about her inspiration behind creating this podcast in this exclusive interview.

Mezzo-soprano Jennifer Johnston is one of the UK’s most acclaimed singers and is well-known for her interpretations of Mahler, Wagner, Elgar, and Britten. Among her awards include the Royal Philharmonic Society Singer of the Year and Gramophone’s Recording of the Year, plus, she was a former BBC New Generation Artist. 

In this episode, Johnston shares her honest observations of the new classical music landscape, and the struggles our industry is facing as a result. She also served as a barrister prior to her singing career.

She further discusses the importance of music education in schools, champions contemporary music, and recounts the time she was sacked by an opera company for being “too fat.” 



A graduate of Cambridge University and the Royal College of Music, she has since been closely associated with the Bayerische Staatsoper and with the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra, where she was formerly Artist in Residence. 

Additionally, she has often performed in recital with Malcolm Martineau, Joseph Middleton, Alisdair Hogarth, and James Baillieu for BBC Radio 3, Wigmore Hall, the Concertgebouw, Leeds Lieder and the Aldeburgh Festival. 

Her discography includes her debut solo album, “A Love Letter To Liverpool,” of which the single “You'll Never Walk Alone” reached number one in the iTunes Classical Chart. Her recording of Anthony Payne’s arrangement of Vaughan Williams’ Four Last Songs with the BBC Symphony Orchestra and Martyn Brabbins was also nominated for a GRAMMY Award in 2019.

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