Joel - profile

Joel Hunter



When and where was your first concert with the MCO? Recklinghausen, Germany in 2002. It was opera   Mozart’s Don Giovanni. I recall being about 15 minutes late for my first rehearsal with the orchestra. I got totally lost trying to find the Opera House ... not the best first impression! 

What do you do before a performance? Some colleagues follow routines before concerts, whereas I unfortunately tend to be a bit chaotic . It’s something I'm always trying to improve. Managing time and organising things like food and warming up properly are sometimes more difficult than you think! I’m not a big fan of the backstage warm-up so I tend to arrive late to the hall, which can sometimes make my colleagues a little nervous!  

What would you do if you weren’t a musician? Twenty years ago I would definitely have said footballer. I played seriously as a teenager and had the chance to peruse it at a high level, but unfortunately a bad injury forced me to rethink. Nowadays I guess I’d still do something physical and outside  tree surgeon? 

How do you spend your free time? Eating, drinking and sleeping ... all of which I’m pretty good at. As well as watching sport, playing sport, thinking about sport. 

What’s the best thing about playing with the MCO? The energy, passion and commitment. I am lucky to have worked in many orchestras all over Europe but none have quite the same feeling as MCO. Concerts can be electric. Also having so many friends as colleagues is unique and very special.


Born in the UK and a proud Yorkshireman, Joel somewhat unusually picked up the viola instead of the violin aged 7. Many years later, after eventually deciding music, not football, was a wiser choice of career, he ended up in London continuing his studies at the Royal Academy of Music. Since then, Joel has been performing all over the world with many leading orchestras and ensembles. 

Immediately after finishing his studies, Joel was appointed Co-Principal Viola with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow, moving on to the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra in Stockholm a few years later where, as Principal Viola, he worked until 2014. He is currently the principal violist of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra, which he combines with a busy freelance career throughout Europe.

He has appeared as a Guest Principal Violist in most of the UK orchestras, including the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, The BBC National Orchestra of Wales, Philharmonic and Concert Orchestras, Royal Scottish National Orchestra, Scottish Chamber Orchestra, London Chamber Orchestra, Aurora, Royal Northern Sinfonia, as well as internationally with the Symphonie Orchester des Bayerischen Rundfunk, Bamberg Symphony, Oslo Philharmonic, Munich Philharmonic, Leipzig Gewandhausorchester Leipzig and the Amsterdam Sinfonietta.                     

As a chamber musician, Joel has performed with many eminent artists, including Christian Tetzlaff,  Alisa Weilerstein, Pascal Roge, Mitzuko Uchida and Leif Ove Andsnes in concerts throughout the world. Recent recordings include the Korngold string sextet for Chandos.  He is a founding member of the Logos Chamber Group playing annually at the Joy Of Music Festival and International Piano Competition in Hong Kong. 

In 2001 he was made an ʻAssociate member’ of the Royal Academy of Music in London (ARAM) for his services to the profession.