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Graeme Steele Johnson

New York, NY

Clarinet - Sponsored by Ana Mari Cauce

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Praised for his "elegant and rounded sound" (Albany Times Union) and "effortless...unmatched" technique (The Clarinet Online), Graeme Steele Johnson is an artist of uncommon imagination and versatility. His diverse artistic endeavors range from a TEDx talk comparing Mozart and Seinfeld, to his reconstruction of a forgotten 125-year-old work by Charles Martin Loeffler, to performances of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto and Quintet in their original form on an elongated clarinet that he commissioned.


Johnson’s recent performances include appearances at The Library of Congress, The Morgan Library, Chamber Music Northwest, Ravinia, Emerald City Music and the Bridgehampton, Rockport, Orcas Island and Phoenix Chamber Music Festivals, as well as solo recitals at The Kennedy Center and Chicago’s Dame Myra Hess series. He is also a regular performer at the Annapolis Chamber Music Festival, Archipelago Collective Chamber Music Festival and Caroga Lake Music Festival. As a concerto soloist, he has performed with the Vienna International Orchestra, Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Caroga Arts Ensemble, Vermont Mozart Festival Orchestra and the CME Chamber Orchestra.


Since 2022 he has served as the clarinetist of the award-winning quintet WindSync, one of only two American wind quintets with a full-time, international touring schedule. Also sought after as a chamber musician outside of that group, Johnson has collaborated with such distinguished artists as Jon Kimura Parker, David Shifrin, Ida and Ani Kavafian, Steven Tenenbom and Peter Wiley, as well as the Miró, Callisto and KASA Quartets, Imani Winds and the New York New Music Ensemble.


In 2020, Johnson discovered the unpublished manuscript to a forgotten 125-year-old Octet by Charles Martin Loeffler, one of the most performed American composers of his time. Johnson spent a year reconstructing the Octet's score, creating the first critical edition of the music and revealing a kaleidoscopic piece spanning a half-hour. After making the world-premiere recording for Delos, he gave the first modern performances of Loeffler’s Octet at the Library of Congress, the Morgan Library in NYC and the Phoenix Chamber Music Festival in the spring of 2024.


Driven by his interest in shedding fresh perspective on familiar music, Johnson has authored numerous chamber arrangements of repertoire ranging from Mozart and Debussy to Gershwin and Messiaen, and performed them with such artists as the Miró Quartet, Valerie Coleman and Bridget Kibbey. His arrangements have also been championed by others around the world, with performances by the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra (Australia), Moscow Conservatory and La Jolla Music Society, and multiple commissions from The Happenstancers (Toronto).


Johnson is the winner of the Hellam Young Artists’ Competition and the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition. Other recent accolades include the Saint Botolph Club Foundation's Emerging Artist Award, CUNY's Elebash Dissertation Grant and the inaugural Lee Memorial Scholarship from the Center for Musical Excellence. He has recorded commercially for Hyperion Records, Azica Records, MSR Classics and Musica Solis Productions, and now holds an exclusive recording contract with Delos.


Johnson completed undergraduate study at The University of Texas at Austin under the tutelage of Nathan Williams. He earned graduate degrees from the Yale School of Music, where he studied with David Shifrin and Ricardo Morales and was twice awarded the school's Alumni Association Prize, followed by doctoral study with Charles Neidich and Kofi Agawu at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York.

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