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Evan Johnson


Evan Johnson (b. 1980) is an American composer whose music focuses on extremes of density and of reticence, of difficulty and of sparsity, and on hiding itself. Described as “conjuring a Beckett-like eloquence from stammers and silences” (Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph), and as “creating genuine magic … music [which] will be with us for a very long time” (Tim Rutherford-Johnson, The Rambler), his work has been performed throughout North America, Europe and beyond by ensembles such as musikFabrikELISION, the MIVOS Quartetensemble mosaikDal NienteEnsemble SurPlusEXAUDIloadbangekmeles175 East, the Quatuor Bozzini, the New London Chamber Choir, the Art Ensemble NRW, the Cantus Ensemble, and the Society for New Music; pianists Ian PaceMichael FinnissyMark KnoopFrederik Croene, and Sebastian Berweck; flutists Richard Craig and Claire Chase; clarinetists Carl Rosman and Gareth Davis; and soloists from the National Symphony Orchestra, among others.

His work has been programmed at American and international festivals of contemporary music, including the Darmstadt Summer CoursesWittener Tage für neue KammermusikHuddersfield Contemporary Music FestivalTRANSIT (Leuven)Klangwerkstatt BerlinDark Music Days (Reykjavik), Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäße MusikAcht Brücken (Cologne), the Spitalfields Festival, the Ensemblia FestivalJune in BuffalosoundON (San Diego) and others, featured on the Monday Evening Concerts series in Los Angeles, and heard at such venues as Miller Theatre (New York) and London’s Wigmore Hall.  Recordings of his work are available or forthcoming on HCRMetierNew FocusLabel musikFabrik, and Wergo, and selected scores are published byEdition Gravis (Berlin).

The recipient of a Fellowship Prize at the 2012 Darmstadt Summer Courses and a 2011 Meet the Composer Commissioning Music/USA commission, Johnson is a 2013 Fellow of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and has also received a 2010 Aaron Copland Award and 2009 Carlos Surinach Commission from BMI and the Concert Artists Guild.  Other awards include those from ASCAPBMI, Columbia University (2006 Joseph H. Bearns Prize), the Rhode Island Foundation (2008 Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship in Composition), the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, the Society for New Music, and Yale University, among others.  In 2011 he held residencies at Copland House and the Millay Colony for the Arts.

Also active as a writer on music, Johnson has contributed to TempoContemporary Music ReviewMusic Theory Spectrum, GroveMusic Online, and NewMusicBox, and provided booklet essays for Peter Ablinger’s 33-127 on Mode Records, for a disc of works by Aaron Cassidy on NEOS, and for James Weeks‘ TIDE Trilogy on Metier.

He received his Ph.D. in composition from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he studied with David Felder as a Presidential Fellow; other teachers include Johannes Schöllhorn, Chaya Czernowin, Richard Barrett and Brian Ferneyhough.  A 2002 graduate from Yale University, Johnson has been invited to numerous composition seminars and summer programs in the USA, Canada and Europe. From 2007 to 2010, he was a postdoctoral teaching associate in music theory and composition at Northeastern University; more recently, he has served as a lecturer at Harvard University.

thaes ofereode, thisses swa mag [2013] for high voice and cello

Commissioned by the ELISION Ensemble. Carl Rosman (voice), Séverine Ballon (cello). Live, Melbourne Conservatory, March 2014.

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émoi [2010] for bass flute

Commissioned by BMI and the Concert Artists Guild and written for Claire Chase. Studio recording by Rachel Beetz, Febraury 2014.

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L’art de toucher le clavecin, 3 [2011]

Three sequences for violin and percussion.

Premiere performance: ensemble mosaik, Acht Brücken Festival, Cologne, Germany, 2 May 2012.

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NewMusicBox Articles

Articles February 7 2007 | By Evan Johnson
Crossing the Atlantic: A Primer on Euro-American Musical Relations

There still exist archetypal "American Composers" and "European Composers," an archetypal "American Audience" and "European Audience," with roots in decades-old artistic movements, historical contexts, and sets of priorities. However effectively...