Jonathan Carney is a violinist, violist, and conductor noted for his interpretations of Luciano Berio, Michael Nyman, Max Bruch, Johannes Brahms, Jean Sibelius, Felix Mendelssohn, John Cage, Bruno Maderna, Pablo Sarasate, Fritz Kreisler, Krzysztof Penderecki, Paul Hindemith, Philip Glass, Toru Takemitsu, and Antonio Vivaldi. His parents and all three of his siblings are graduates of the Juilliard School of Music, where Carney studied with Christine Delthier and Dorothy Delay. He then moved to London on a Leverhulme Fellowship Award to study at the Royal College of Music.
In 1986–1987, he performed the premiere, film version, and debut recording of Nyman's opera, The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat. He performed as a member of the Michael Nyman Band and the Balanescu Quartet until 1991, when he was appointed leader of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. For Tring International, he conducted the Royal Philharmonic in many budget-priced recordings of the standard repertoire, often performing violin solos on them as well. He also performed Nyman's On the Fiddle (a three-movement work for orchestra and violin solo of music from Prospero's Books, A Zed & Two Noughts, and The Cook The Thief His Wife & Her Lover) on a 1996 RPO recording of The Piano Concerto and suite from Prospero's Books.