Joanna Ward (b. 1998) is a composer, singer and producer/curator from Newcastle upon Tyne. She graduated from the University of Cambridge where she read Music in 2019, and is currently studying for her Masters in Composition Guildhall School of Music and Drama, which is supported by a Guildhall Scholarship as well as a Vaughan Williams Bursary and the Emma Newton Fund at the Community Foundation.


Joanna began composing with Dr Chris Randall at the Centre for Advanced Training at the Sage Gateshead. At Cambridge, she studiedwith Richard Causton, as well as receiving seminars and masterclasses from visiting composers and industry professionals. Her primary teacher at the Guildhall is Cassandra Miller. 

She has taken part in several Young Composer schemes, including Sound and Music’s Next Wave 2, ensemble recherche's Klassenarbeit, and the NYO Composers scheme. In 2019, she has been one of the four inaugural NYCGB Young Composers

Joanna produced her short opera hunger at the Edinburgh Fringe 2018, where it achieved critical acclaim and sell-out shows. hunger will be performed again in Oxford in the coming year. It was originally commissioned and premiered by Helios Collective's 'Formations' 2017, at Lilian Bayliss House, London.


She has also completed several commissions recently, including pigs are some of the thirstiest animals!, a graphic score commissioned by Galvanize Ensemble for their Happenstance project with Fretwork; i bump into things (i spin around in circles) which was premiered at West Road Concert Hall by a sub-set of the Cambridge Mahler Orchestra; in connection with (for violin, cello and theorbo) which was premiered by Listenpony after receiving a commission through their call for scores; and Der du bist drei in Einigkeit for the Orgelbüchlein Project which was premiered in February 2019.

She has also had various successes in competitions, such as winning the Gesualdo Six’s inaugral composition competition with her piece For a Number of Coins, and receiving an honourable mention in the Frost School of Music International Composition Competition with her piece away. Her graphic scores have also had success: a different kind was recently shortlisted for the RNS Young Composers’ Competition, which resulted in a workshop with the RNS, and when will things change? was displayed at the 2018 Occupy The Pianos festival and the Queen's College Art Festival. 









Joanna is one half of the mermaid café, a creative collaboration involving singing, playing, writing, and curating. the mermaid café have gigged extensively around Cambridge and beyond, using their "honeyed vocals" (Varsity 2018) in unique re-interpretations of existing songs as well as their original material. They combine a traditional singer-songwriter approach with their collective experiemental composition background and a setup involving loop pedals and multiple instruments (guitar, e-bass, piano, percussion). They also frequently perform and commission music in a contemporary classical idiom; performances from them range across genres. 

listen to the mermaid café here, and get in touch at 

As a soloist, Joanna specialises in the performance of new and recently composed works; highlights include giving a recital of contemporary vocal works, incorporating piano and electronics, for the Cambridge Female Composers Festival, and performing Aperghis’Recitations in a concert in King’s College Chapel, which was described by Varsity Magazine as “the highlight of the concert [...] the handling of its myriad staggeringly difficult techniques was breath-taking, and deserves special mention.”

Joanna's contemporary classical/ experimental repertoire includes:

-- Jennifer Walshe: Folk Song Collections; G.L.O.R.I.

-- Errollyn Wallen: Tree

-- Priaulx Rainier: Cycle for Declamation

-- Meredith Monk: (improv on) Our Lady of Late

-- Brian Elias: Meet Me in the Green Glen

Joanna also incorporates experimental arrangements of popular and folk songs into her recitals, of songs by artists such as Joni Mitchell, Peggy Seeger and Billy Bragg.

Her background is in choral music; she began with the Swing Bridge Singers and Quay Voices, and has since sung with the Jesus College Choir, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, and the Proms Youth Chorus. She has also taken part in opera, most notably as a chorus member of the Cambridge University Opera Society's Rake's Progress. 


I am always keen to experiment with and perform new repertoire so please let me know about anything you have written for alto voice (E3 -- F5), solo or with tape, piano etc.! 




Joanna has experience producing concerts covering a wide range of musics and performers. These include Alternative Lessons and Carols (2017 and 2018), showcasing new student writing, both music and text, and Terry Riley's 

In C (CU Lunchtime Concert Series 2017). She was co-president of the Jesus College Music Society for 2018-19, involving organising and producing concerts and events throughout the year. In this capacity, she encouraged a shift towards more diverse programming, especially of music by women. Joanna was also on the committee for the inaugural Cambridge Female Composers Festival, helping bring women’s music to a public platform and using her experience to coordinate a composing competition for female/non-binary composers as well as to make connections with female composers to find repertoire and grow the audience of the festival. Outside of Cambridge, Joanna was the producer for the Edinburgh Fringe run of hunger, managing the publicity and organisation of the show. She has also participated in curating the Jesus College Arts Festival, where she took the lead installing a multimedia room to display audio and audiovisual works in the gallery.

other stuff:

Joanna also has experience typesetting scores in Sibelius, teaching composition (particular experience with younger children), and tutoring music theory. 

photo © Ruari Paterson-Achenbach

photo ©  Evelina Gumileva

London // Newcastle upon Tyne

©2019 Joanna Ward.