Joseph Johnson is principal cello of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and The Santa Fe Opera Orchestra, and he’s been heard around the world as a soloist, a chamber musician, and an educator.
Recent solo performances for Mr. Johnson include Dvořák’s Cello Concerto with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the Etobicoke Philharmonic Orchestra, and Shostakovich’s Cello Concerto No. 1 with the Niagara Symphony Orchestra. His recent recital and chamber music engagements include the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Music and Noon Concert series; the Chamber Players series in Toronto; the Chatter series in Albuquerque; the Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society; the Prince Edward County and Santa Fe chamber music festivals; the Bard, Cactus Pear, and Grand Teton music festivals; Music in the Vineyards; Chamber Music Maui; the Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego; the Mountain View festival in Calgary; the Pacific Music Festival in Japan; and the Virtuosi Festival in Brazil. He also performed in the cities of Brockville and Oshawa in Ontario and at the Beaver Creek Institution, a minimum- and medium-security federal prison in Ontario.
A champion of new music, Mr. Johnson has given the Canadian premieres of Unsuk Chin’s Cello Concerto with the Esprit Orchestra and Miguel del Aguila’s Concierto en Tango with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as well as the North American premieres of Péter Eötvös’s Cello Concerto Grosso with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra and Marc-André Dalbavie’s Cello Concerto with the Esprit Orchestra.
Prior to joining the Toronto Symphony Orchestra as principal cello in the 2009–10 season, Mr. Johnson served as principal cello of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, acting principal cello of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra, and guest principal cello of the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, and Trondheim Symphony Orchestra. He was also a member of the Minnesota Orchestra cello section. During his 11-year tenure with the Minnesota Orchestra, he performed numerous chamber music works, as both a cellist and a pianist, during the orchestra’s summer festival, Sommerfest. Mr. Johnson was also a founding member of both the Prospect Park Players and the Minneapolis Quartet, the latter of which was honored with a McKnight Fellowship.
A gifted and inspiring teacher, Mr. Johnson is an assistant professor of cello at the University of Toronto, the cello coach for the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra, and a coach and teacher at the New World Symphony orchestral academy in Miami. He’s conducted numerous master classes for a wide range of institutions and ensembles, including The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, the Eastman School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory in Toronto, and the youth orchestras of the Milwaukee, Chicago, Madison, and Toronto symphony orchestras.
Joseph Johnson graduated from the Eastman School of Music and earned his master’s degree from Northwestern University. His awards and honors include a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music and first prize at the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition. Mr. Johnson performs on a magnificent Paolo Castello cello crafted in Genoa in 1780.