Joel - profile

Joel Hunter



When and where was your first concert with the MCO? Recklinghausen, Germany in 2002. I remember it well. It was an opera actually, Mozart’s Don Giovanni. I recall being about 15 minutes late for my first ever rehearsal with the orchestra, even though I had arrived at the hotel three hours earlier. Got totally lost trying to find the Opera House and certainly did not make a good first impression!

What do you do before a performance? This is something I’ve never quite figured out. Some colleagues follow strict routines before concerts whereas I often tend to be a bit chaotic unfortunately. It’s definitely something I need to work on. I always seem to run out of time before managing the essentials like food and the pre-concert nap. I do hate hanging around backstage directly before a concert so I tend to arrive late, get changed, unpack my viola and go on stage. I have to admit I do cut it fine sometimes though!

What would you do if you weren’t a musician? 20 years ago I would have definitely said playing football professionally. Now I don’t really know – probably own a bar or restaurant or something. Actually it might have happened all those years ago. As a teenager I used to play for my home town club, Huddersfield Town. I was totally hooked on football and only decided to take music seriously at the age of 15 after a bad injury. I often wonder what might have happened but I still play for fun as regularly as I can, even occasionally when on tour with MCO.

How do you spend your free time? Difficult question. Lot of time planning schedules, booking flights, trains, cars etc. I could really do with a secretary sometimes. I suppose it’s a result of having two jobs and freelance work in London and elsewhere. Can be pretty hectic. When I’m not tied up with work or organising it, I love eating, drinking and sleeping... all of which I’m pretty good at.

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.


Since graduating from the Royal Academy of Music in London in 1997, Joel has been performing all over the world with many leading ensembles and orchestras.

Immediately after his studies he was appointed co-principal viola with the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra in Glasgow and from 2006 - 2013 held the post of principal viola in the Swedish Radio Symphony Orchestra under its Music Director, Daniel Harding.

He has appeared as the principal violist in most UK orchestras including the Philharmonia, Royal Philharmonic, London Philharmonic, City of Birmingham Symphony, and the Scottish Chamber Orchestra, and internationally with the Symphonieorchester des Bayerischen Rundfunks, Oslo and Munich Philharmonic Orchestras, the Amsterdam Sinfonietta and the Australian Chamber Orchestra.

Since 2012 Joel has been a member of the internationally acclaimed John Wilson Orchestra, performing exclusively works from the golden age of Hollywood and Great American Songbook.

He is currently the principal violist of the Mahler Chamber Orchestra and the London Chamber Orchestra, with whom he also performed as a soloist in 2010 in London.

Alongside these many commitments he also finds time to work in the studio orchestras of London, recording scores for film and television.

As a chamber musician Joel has performed with many eminent artists, including Yo-Yo Ma, Christian Tetzlaff, Alisa Weilerstein, and Leif Ove Andsnes in concerts throughout the world. He has performed at international festivals like the Mecklenburg Vorpommern Festival and in the US at the Charlottesville International Chamber Music Festival, and regularly appears with Ensemble 360 in the UK. He is also a member of the Logos Chamber Group and resident in Hong Kong for the International Piano Competition and Joy Of Music Festival.

Passionate about teaching, Joel has coached and taught at many institutions throughout Europe and especially enjoys working with youth orchestras. He has coached the violas of the World Youth Orchestra and in 2013 was appointed visiting professor at the Gustav Mahler Summer Academy in Bolzano, Italy.

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