Musical recommendations:

During lockdown, I’ve been reminded of what makes me happy to listen to, and I’ve also well and truly returned to my jazz and Scouse roots.


I’ve listened to loads of music whilst busy in the kitchen testing recipes and cocktails for Notes From Musicians’ Kitchens, an online cookbook written by musicians from all over the world, allowing us all to digitally break bread as a community and raising money for Help Musicians UK.

Jessye Norman’s recording of Strauss’s Four Last Songs with the Gewandhaus Orchestra under Kurt Masur

Sinatra At The Sands: A live concert recorded in Las Vegas in 1966

The Beatles: Abbey Road

A recipe:

My recipe in the Notes from Musicians’ Kitchens cookbook is a St Clements Gin & Tonic Cake, which I’ve now baked three times and can confirm it’s completely delicious – especially when served with a G&T!

Jennifer Johnston with her St Clements Gin and Tonic Cake

Film and TV:

Inevitably, TV and film have been a feature of my evenings, and I particularly watching the stage show of Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s Fleabag, which I wasn’t able to see live but was recently made available on Soho Theatre On Demand.

The beautiful BBC adaptation of Sally Rooney’s novel Normal People.

I’ve also been rewatching the Harry Potter film. I’m in Ravenclaw house – in case you’re wondering.

An app:

I’ve been gifted a membership to the Masterclass app, which contains some absolutely brilliant online classes and workshops with celebrities including RuPaul, Anna Wintour and Helen Mirren.


Hilary Mantel’s Wolf Hall trilogy

Wolf Hall Trilogy

Jeanine Cummins’s American Dirt

American Dirt

Anthony Doerr’s All The Light We Cannot See


An activity:

The thing that has kept me sane is walking on the beach as often as I can, alongside Antony Gormley’s Iron Men (Another Place, to give the installation its proper name). I’m so lucky to live right next to the Mersey Estuary in Liverpool. You can’t beat fresh air and the sight of the horizon.

Catch up with all the recipes from Notes From Musicians' Kitchens and listen to the podcast here featuring guests including mezzo-soprano Jamie Barton, conductor Robert Treviño, pianist Julia Siciliano, soprano Sonya Yoncheva and conductor Domingo Hindoyan.

Jennifer Johnston is a soloist in the upcoming performance of Handel’s Messiah with the Self-Isolation Choir, which will be available to watch on YouTube from Sunday 31 May.


Listen to Jennifer Johnston’s new recording of Wagner’s Die Walküre with the Bavarian Raio Symphony Orchestra under Simon Rattle here, and to her 2019 album ‘A Love Letter to Liverpool’ here.


Freya ParrDigital Editor and Staff Writer, BBC Music Magazine

Freya Parr is BBC Music Magazine's Digital Editor and Staff Writer. She has also written for titles including the Guardian, Circus Journal, Frankie and Suitcase Magazine, and runs The Noiseletter, a fortnightly arts and culture publication. Freya's main areas of interest and research lie in 20th-century and contemporary music.