New York, NY
Graeme Steele Johnson is an artist of uncommon imagination and versatility. Winner of the Hellam Young Artists’ Competition and the Yamaha Young Performing Artists Competition, he has established a multifaceted career as a clarinetist, writer, arranger and performance designer. 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 his performances of Mozart's Clarinet Concerto in its original form on a rare elongated clarinet that he commissioned. He has appeared in recital at The Kennedy Center and Chicago's Dame Myra Hess series, and as a chamber musician at Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, the Ravinia Festival, Phoenix Chamber Music Festival, and Chamber Music Northwest. As a concerto soloist, he has performed with the Vienna International Orchestra on two occasions, as well as with the Springfield Symphony Orchestra, Caroga Lake and Vermont Mozart Festival Orchestras, and the CME Chamber Orchestra, led by Metropolitan Opera concertmaster Benjamin Bowman.
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 around the country and on recording for a 2021 release on MSR Classics. He has also recorded commercially for Hyperion Records and Musica Solis Productions alongside the likes of David Shifrin, Peter Wiley and Frank Morelli.
Johnson joined the artist roster of the Center for Musical Excellence in 2019 as its only clarinetist, and in 2021 he was awarded the organization's inaugural Lee Memorial Scholarship to underwrite a forthcoming recording project. Additional recent festival appearances include Maverick Concerts, Music Mountain, Annapolis Chamber Music Festival, Lake George Music Festival, Caroga Lake Music Festival and The Banff Centre, and he has collaborated in chamber settings with such distinguished artists as Ani Kavafian, Stella Chen, David Shifrin, Allan Vogel, William Purvis, Hannah Lash, Wei-Yi Yang, Imani Winds, the Callisto and KASA Quartets, Frisson Ensemble and Metropolis Ensemble. Upcoming engagements include performances with the Miró Quartet, Valerie Coleman and David Shifrin, with the Lviv Philharmonic in Ukraine, and at the Yellow Barn festival. As an orchestral musician, he performs regularly with the New Haven Symphony Orchestra, Albany Symphony Orchestra and Pegasus: The Orchestra.
Johnson's writing about music has been published by the international journal The Clarinet, as well as in program booklets by Carnegie Hall, Chamber Music Northwest, Yale and the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, and as liner notes accompanying albums by David Shifrin, Ricardo Morales, Lloyd Van't Hoff and the Center for Musical Excellence. He holds graduate degrees from the Yale School of Music, where he was twice awarded the school's Alumni Association Prize. His major teachers include David Shifrin, Nathan Williams and Ricardo Morales, and he is now a doctoral candidate at The Graduate Center of the City University of New York under the mentorship of Charles Neidich. In 2021, Johnson joined the faculty of the Mahanaim School in Huntington, New York as Adjunct Professor of Clarinet.