Joanna Ward (b. 1998) is a composer, performer, researcher, and activist, from Newcastle upon Tyne. She is currently studying at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama, where she learns with Amber Priestly and is working towards her Masters in Composition. She previously studied Music at Cambridge University, graduating in 2019.
Joanna’s compositional practice ranges across genres, encompassing conventional forms/media as well as cross-media collaboration. Her work often draws on found objects, both physical, musical, and textual. She is interested in static, ambient, collaged and circular sonic aesthetics, and her sound world is embedded in her deep love of pop music.
Her approach is inherently political and informed by continual learning from research and activism, with an overarching focus on how to create music whilst engaged with contemporary radical/critical theory perspectives.
Her scores are often whimsical and centre the subjectivity of her collaborators using colour, text, and graphic elements in combination with conventional notation's signs and symbols. She hand-draws/makes her scores, having moved away from notation software since 2019.
Musicians, ensembles, and arts organisations she has recently worked with include: EXAUDI vocal ensemble •
Mark Knoop • Musarc • the Gesualdo Six • London Contemporary Dance School students • ensemble recherche
• the Royal Northern Sinfonia • Galvanize Ensemble (with Fretwork) • Psappha • the National Youth Choirs of Great Britain • Sound and Music • NMC Recordings • Birmingham Contemporary Music Group.
Joanna is also a writer and researcher with and around her composition practice. Recent work has included:
• leading a Decolonising Reading group at Guildhall School of Music and Drama, who meet regularly during term time to discuss texts reflecting on culture and critical theory perspectives.
• being selected to speak on a panel at the eavesdropping symposium 2021 on 'Making with every body'
• Joanna had an article published in TEMPO New Music Journal (October 2020) "Decentring and dismantling: an exploration of how we might take a critical and radical approach to placing diversity at the centre of music tertiary education."
• giving a seminar to the Guildhall School Composition Faculty, "Towards decolonising (my) compositional practice." in June 2020.
• selected to present for the eavesdropping symposium 2020 titled "Ideological methodologies: political orientations in the meaning and practice of ‘new music’." [withdrawn due to the Covid-19 pandemic]
• an appearance on Sound and Music's podcast series discussing the politics of taste with Susanna Eastburn
As a performer, Joanna is interested in contemporary and experimental musics for voice, as well as ‘performance art’ oriented work. She is also one half of the mermaid café, a creative collaboration which explores ambient, experimental, improvisation and pop performance. They improvise and create new work for themselves to perform, commission new works, re-imagine existing ones, as well as curate events and collaborate with other musicians and artists. The mermaid café will be releasing an EP on Cafe OTO's Takuroku label in June, and performing at Cafe OTO on the 13th of July.
Joanna also really enjoys teaching composition, and has particular experience with younger children.
You can download her full CV here:
rehearsing for a performance with tick tock
photo © Naomi Woo
one page of a score for Mark Knoop
© Joanna Ward