Born in Liverpool, Jennifer Johnston read Law at Cambridge and practised as a barrister before graduating with Distinction from the Royal College of Music’s Opera Course. She was a member of both the National Opera Studio, where she was sponsored by Opera North, and the Britten Pears Young Artists Programme, and continues to study with Lillian Watson. The recipient of numerous awards, she is the first young artist to have received two Susan Chilcott Scholarships, in 2005 and 2007, is a Royal Philharmonic Society Young Artist, a BBC New Generation Artist and is also a Trustee of the Young Singers’ Welfare Foundation.
During the summer of 2006, she made her debuts at the Festival d’Aix-en-Provence (Dido in Dido and Aeneas) and the Salzburg Festival (Carmi/La Betulia Liberata, released on DVD by Deutsche Grammophon). Other operatic engagements have included Dido for Opéra de Lille and in Madrid, Suzuki/Madame Butterfly, Irene/Tamerlano, Mercedes/Carmen and Hansel/Hansel and Gretel, all for Scottish Opera; Giovanna Seymour/Anna Bolena for the Tower of London Festival, Mrs Herring/Albert Herring for the Aldeburgh Festival, and Lucretia/The Rape of Lucretia for the Dartington Festival.
Recent concert and recital engagements include working with Bernard Haitink, Leonard Slatkin, Malcolm Martineau, at the Aldeburgh Festival, Edinburgh International Festival, and with the BBC Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, The English Concert and Akademie für Alte Musik. She is a member of the Prince Consort, with whom she has recently had recitals at the Wigmore Hall, including a Stephen Hough world premiere; a residency and recital at the Aldeburgh Festival, and the release of a disc of Brahms and Hough.
Highlights of the 2010-11 season included the title role in Agrippina for the Cambridge Handel Opera Group, Wellgunde in Das Rheingold for Opera North, Mozart’s Coronation Mass under Cleobury with the Philharmonia Orchestra, Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony under Setterfield and Verdi’s Requiem with London Concert Choir and Mark Forkgen at the Royal Festival Hall. She gave the world premiere of a new song cycle by Cheryl Frances Hoad at the Cambridge Summer Music Festival and at Opera North with Joseph Middleton. She has recorded Britten’s song cycle A Charm of Lullabies with Malcolm Martineau.
Her engagements in the 2011-12 Season include recordings for BBC Radio 3; Wellgunde (Das Rheingold) and Waltraute (Die Walküre) for Opera North; Elgar’s Sea Pictures with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra and Brabbins; Debussy’s Le Martyr de Saint Sebastién with the BBC National Orchestra of Wales and Fischer; The Dream of Gerontius with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra and Hill; Mahler 2 with the Hallé and Hill; Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony with the RPO; Mozart’s Requiem and Solemn Vespers with Crouch End Festival Chorus; and Handel’s Messiah with Florilegium, Bach’s St Matthew Passion with the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Van Zweden, and numerous solo recitals.