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Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Alex Paxton announced for 2020/21 Composers’ Academy

Composers Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Alex Paxton

The Philharmonia Orchestra and Royal Philharmonic Society have today announced Ayanna Witter-Johnson and Alex Paxton as the 2020/21 season participants on the Orchestra’s flagship Composers’ Academy emerging artists programme.

For comment, interview and image requests, please contact:

Tim Woodall, Marketing Director
07500 006 335

Ayanna Witter-Johnson is a singer, songwriter, cellist and composer active in both classical music and alternative R&B. A graduate from Trinity Laban Conservatoire of Music & Dance and Manhattan School of Music, she has previously participated in the London Symphony Orchestra’s Panufnik Young Composers Scheme and was a featured artist with Courtney Pine’s Afropeans: Jazz Warriors. In her career to date she has received commissions from groups including the Kronos Quartet and London Symphony Orchestra, and was shortlisted for Best Jazz Act at the 2012 MOBO Awards. Her three EPs and debut album Road Runner have received airtime on national radio including BBC Radio 1, 1xtra, 2, 3, 4, 6.


Ayanna Witter Johnson | Nothing Less

Music video for Nothing Less from Ayanna's album Road Runner

Alex Paxton is a composer and improvising-trombonist, whose music fuses contemporary classical, jazz and pop traditions, drawing on his own experiences as a jazz performer, improviser and workshop leader. Following his studies at the Royal Academy of Music and Royal College of Music he took part in schemes including as a Leverhulme Art Scholar with the London Philharmonic Orchestra. He is composer and Artistic Director of DreamMusics ensemble and has written for groups including Ensemble Modern and National Youth Jazz Orchestra. In addition to a number of albums and large-scale orchestral works like 2019’s OD ODY PINK’d for jazz trombone and orchestra, Alex writes music for community settings and Music Hubs, and is composer in residence for Pelican Music Service.


Alex Paxton | Sometimes Voices

HYPER DUO perform Alex's work for keys and drumkit

Under the guidance of composer and graduate of the scheme Christian Mason, as well as visiting artists, members of the Orchestra, and the Philharmonia’s Principal Conductor and Artistic Advisor Esa-Pekka Salonen, the two composers have each been commissioned to write an original work to be performed by Philharmonia musicians. Across the 10-month programme, they will receive seminars and tutorials, instrument exploration sessions, and workshop sessions with players from the Orchestra, alongside publishing and marketing insights from Philharmonia staff, Royal Philharmonic Society, NMC Records, Schott Music and PRS.

Their tenure will culminate in a performance of their new commission by Philharmonia musicians on Friday 4 June 2021 at Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall, conducted by Patrick Bailey.


Composers' Academy 2016/17

Watch the Composers' Academy participants from 2016 in conversation with former Principal Trumpet, Alistair Mackie

More about this

Mark van de Wiel playing the bass clarinet during a Music of Today performance
Small-ensemble performance

Music of Today: Composers' Academy

Patrick Bailey – conductor
Composers to be announced

Royal Festival Hall

More info No ticket required
Royal Philharmonic Society logo

The Philharmonia's Composers' Academy is produced in partnership with the Royal Philharmonic Society