Joanna Ward is a composer and musician from Newcastle upon Tyne, currently reading undergraduate Music at at Jesus College, Cambridge.
At university, she has been taught by Darren Bloom and Patrick Brennan, as well as receiving seminars and masterclasses from Richard Causton and visiting composers. Through university she has reveiced commissions for the Choir of St John's College Cambridge, as well as student ensembles such as the Cambridge Mahler Orchestra. Recent projects outside of uni include Sound and Music's Next Wave 2, for which Joanna was one of six composers; this involved writing a piece for RNS musicians and Quinta, with mentoring from Errollyn Wallen. The resulting piece ‘to think at the sun’ has since been premiered at Sage Gateshead and released on NMC. She was also commissioned to write a short opera for Helios Collective's Formations 2017, which resulted in 'hunger', a piece exploring identity and gender through the lens of a woman working in the creative arts. This work was premiered in London in November, receiving especially positive feedback from Daniel Kramer, artistic director of the ENO. Some exciting upcoming projects include a workshop with the BCMG, travelling to Freiburg to work on a commission for ensemble recherche, and writing for a percussion ensemble for a concert in West Road Concert Hall.
As well as composing, Joanna sings in the Jesus College Choir, the National Youth Choir, and in the Cambridge University Opera Society’s productions. She also plays electric bass, currently in a jazz band (made up entirely of ginger people) which frequently plays around Cambridge, as well as in shows at the ADC. As of her second year, she has begun working more actively to enrich the live music scene in Cambridge, which has included putting on Terry Riley’s In C, and curating an ‘alternative lessons and carols’ featuring new student music, which happened in November. She recently curated the gallery for the John Hughes Art Festival, taking the lead on creating a room with screens and a projector to display audiovisual and audio submissions; her graphic scores and photographs were also exhibted in the gallery.
As a composer, she is heavily influenced by engagement with the diverse means of expression found in the music of recent history. She takes particular interest and enjoyment in the sounds worlds of minimalism, as well as the beautiful and textural music of composers such as Feldman, Berio, and Xenakis. She also engages with lots of popular music, and performs pop songs in an acoustic guitar/voice duo called the mermaid café. Her compositional voice is partly a result of this diverse engagement, resulting in music which is personally expressive, whilst removed from the explicit; her compositional process is also often a response to a stimulus which engages and moves her; this could be anything from prose, to found sounds or others' music, to current affairs in the wider world or her own life. She is also gaining interest in experimental performance practices, hoping to integrate this into future works and projects. She gave a recital in February incorporating the music of Claudia Molitor with her own.
She works in front of house at Sage Gateshead, which exposes her to a wide range of performance arts, and her interests in photography, literature, as well as keen engagement with political issues, compliment her composing and also inevitably affect her creative processes.