Tom McKinney

Professor of Guitar

Tom McKinney is a guitarist and broadcaster who has been a regular voice on BBC Radio 3 since 2012, where he now presents Essential Classics, the network’s most popular programme.

As a tutor in guitar at the Royal Northern College of Music, he provides 1-1 tuition alongside group classes of GuitarLab, which covers topics ranging from repertoire to performance anxiety. Tom was an undergraduate student at the RNCM where he studied with Gordon Crosskey and Craig Ogden, having previously been taught by Nicola Hall and John Lambert. After graduating he continued his studies in Musicology at the University of Manchester.

Tom has performed as a soloist and chamber musician at most of the major British festivals, including the BBC Proms, Aldeburgh, Brighton, Edinburgh, Spitalfields, Huddersfield Contemporary Music Festival and St Magnus on Orkney. Recent international appearances have taken him to the Elbphilharmonie in Hamburg, a residency in Moscow and a tour of Belgium with the Royal Ballet of Flanders.

He is in great demand as a performer of new music and has been involved in premiere performances of hundreds of works, including by Louis Andriessen, Luke Bedford, Alexander Goehr, Jonathan Harvey, Sarah Hennies, Hans Werner Henze, David Horne, Jo Kondo, Amber Priestley, James Saunders, Laurie Spiegel and Julia Wolfe. He performs regularly with ensembles and orchestras such as Birmingham Contemporary Music Group, Britten Sinfonia, Psappha and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra. Tom also gave the UK premiere of George Crumb’s guitar concerto Quest, and in 2021, as part of Psappha’s Composing for… scheme, he workshopped and premiered six works for solo guitar by some of the UK’s leading young composers.

From their time together as students at the RNCM, Tom has worked closely with composer Larry Goves, founding the ensemble House of Bedlam which has toured the UK extensively, and in 2021 they released their debut album Enclosure on the NMC label.

As a broadcaster on BBC Radio 3, Tom has presented many of the station’s flagship programmes including Essential Classics, Breakfast, Afternoon Concert, Record Review, Building a Library, The Essay and Opera on 3. He presents live Radio 3 concerts throughout the country and has a particularly close relationship with the BBC Philharmonic, hosting many of their events at the Bridgewater Hall and the BBC Proms.

Tom programmes the concert series and chamber music festival for Music in the Round based at the Crucible Theatre in Sheffield, and the new music series at Kettle’s Yard art gallery in Cambridge. He is a member of the artistic advisory committee for NMC records, an audition consultant for Live Music Now!, has taught at Aldeburgh Young Musicians, and writes articles and programme notes for international journals and concert halls.