Joanna Ward

Joanna Ward

Key Facts


Joanna Ward is a London-based composer, performer, and curator/producer, from Newcastle upon Tyne. She is currently doing a Masters in Composition at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she learns with Amber Priestley. Her studies are supported by a Guildhall Scholarship, Ralph Vaughan Williams Bursary, and a Community Foundation Grant. Joanna previously studied Music at Cambridge University, graduating with a First Class degree and being awarded various prizes and grants including: the Renfrew Prize for most significant contribution to the musical life of Jesus College; a Scholarship at Jesus College for academic achievement; and the Alan Pars Theatre Fund for Joanna’s opera hunger at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2018.

Joanna’s compositional practice ranges across genres, encompassing conventional forms/media as well as theatrical pieces, experimental electronic music, and ambient music. She is interested in collaged and collaborative sonic aesthetics, combining conventional notation with intimate, hand-drawn graphic elements, and her work is embedded in her deep love of pop music. Joanna’s approach is inherently political, with a focus on how to compose in a way which is also engaged with contemporary feminist, queer, and decolonial thinking.

Joanna has had success with several high-profile emerging composer schemes. These include: the inaugural cohort of the National Youth Choir of Great Britain composers (with which she had an artist residency in Aldeburgh, and the resulting music was released on NMC Recordings); Sound and Music’s Next Wave 2 (which also involved music being released by NMC Recordings as well as premiered at Sage Gateshead); ensemble recherche’s Klassenarbeit scheme, which involved three workshop sessions over the course of the year with the ensemble in Freiburg before a performance of the works in January 2019.

Joanna has also received commissions to create music for: the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra; Footfall Theatre; the Corvus Consort; Galvanize Ensemble and Fretwork’s Happenstance project, lluminate Women’s Music 2019 Season 2; Ensemble Entropy; the Orgelbüchlein Project; Gesualdo 6; Voces 8; and the Choir of St John’s College Cambridge. Her work has widely received further performances, by these ensembles and others. Several of her pieces have been broadcast on BBC Radio 3.

As a performer, Joanna is especially interested in contemporary and experimental repertoires for solo voice, having given several recitals in the past year with a focus on contemporary works by women. She is also, with Ruari Paterson-Achenbach, one half of the mermaid café, a multi-instrumentalist duo who commission new works, re-imagine existing ones, as well as curate events and collaborate with other musicians and artists.

Award: The Lord Mayor’s Composition Prize 2020

Page updated 18 December 2020