@ the Queen Elizabeth Hall
21 November 2008
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Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a unique, captivating, talented, composer,
song-writer, vocalist, cellist and pianist who has developed musically
from a diverse background of mixed cultures.
Witter-Johnson began playing the piano at an early age, later taking
up the cello during her teenage years and graduated with First Class
Honours from Trinity College of Music studying Composition with
Alwynne Pritchard and Classical Cello with David Kenedy at Trinity
College of Music, London. She has studied with John A. Thomas, Errollyn
Wallen MBE, Andrew Poppy, Arranging with Paul Bartholomew and Orchestration
with Stephen Montague and Classical Cello with Sue Sutherley (LPO).
She has worked with composer, arranger, producer, musical director
and saxophonist Jason Yarde as a vocalist, cellist and pianist in
his ‘B-Trade’ ensemble alongside Julian Siegel, Seb
Rochford and Neil Charles, performing at Glasgow Jazz Festival and
City of London Festival and as assistant orchestrator on the landmark
Urban Classic project. More recently she worked with Jason Yarde
on the arrangements for ‘Belief’ (a project featuring
legendary South African trumpeter and vocalist Hugh Masekela) with
the London Symphony Orchestra.
In 2007, Witter-Johnson became an emerging artist in residence
(EAR) of the Southbank Centre. This project brought together a range
of artists to participate in an intense collaborative process to
produce original material for a performance at the re-opening of
the Royal Festival Hall.
Courtney Pine MBE invited Witter-Johnson to join his band ‘Afropeans’
as a vocalist and cellist for the recording of the live album “AFROPEANS”
at the Barbican in 2007. As well as performing with Mr. Pine, she
has also started working with jazz/folk star Gwyneth Herbert. Her
radio credits include original material on Courtney Pine’s
Jazz Crusade - BBC Radio 3, In Tune -BBC Radio 2 and the BBC Asian
Network. Witter-Johnson was also invited to feature as a cellist
and musical arranger for the BBC documentary ‘Little Angels’.
Earlier this year she was commissioned by the Liverpool Lighthouse
to compose a choral piece for young vocalists in the Merseyside
area to commemorate the Bicentenary of the Abolition of the Slave