Jon Johnson

Chicago-based percussionist Jon Johnson currently holds positions as principal percussionist in the Illinois Philharmonic and New Philharmonic. He is a member of the Chicago Sinfonietta, an extra with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra, and performs with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra, Joffrey Ballet, and the Chicago Philharmonic. In July 2004, Mr. Johnson was invited to serve as Guest Sub-Principal Percussion with the Royal Opera House Orchestra (ROH), Covent Garden in London for their final performances of Franco Zeffirelli’s 1964 staging of Tosca which was created for Maria Callas. He joined the ROH percussion section in Austin, Texas for the 2006 Percussive Arts Society International Convention and returned to London in 2007 for Wagner’s Der Ring des Nibelungen at the ROH. In 2008, Mr. Johnson was principal percussionist for the Michigan Opera Theater’s performances of Margaret Garner at the Auditorium Theater and performed with the San Francisco Ballet during the Chicago portion of their 75th Anniversary Tour.

Mr. Johnson has worked with numerous composers and artists including John Cage, Luc Ferrari, Stephen Paulus, Harry Blackstone, Mannheim Steamroller and David Maslanka. He performed Pierre Boulez’ Rituel with Maestro Boulez conducting as part of “Boulez at 70" at Chicago’s Orchestra Hall in 1995. While a graduate student at Northwestern University in 1991, he was picked by John Paynter to be soloist in William Schmidt’s Range of Light: Concerto for Percussion and Wind Ensemble; in 1989, he was marimba soloist in the world premiere of Raymond Helble’s Concerto for Marimba and Percussion Ensemble with the Central Michigan University Percussion Ensemble, with Robert Hohner as director. Mr. Johnson served as interim Percussion Instructor at Central Michigan University after the death of Robert Hohner in 2000.

He has recorded for the Naxos, Delos International, DMP, Albany, Koss Classics, and Premiere labels, including Different Strokes with the Robert Hohner Percussion Ensemble, Coleridge-Taylor Perkinson: A Celebration with the Chicago Sinfonietta, and Aaron Copland’s Piano Concerto with the Elgin Symphony Orchestra.

In 2006, Mr. Johnson premiered his composition, Bedeviled By the Sun: Concerto for Marimba and Strings, with the New Philharmonic. His compositions for percussion trio, Shaking From Within and Elementary Particles, have been performed by the Brooklyn-based ensemble Loop 243 across the United States and in the Chicago-area by Sonic Inertia. He presented the premiere of his marimba solo Awake But She is Gone in February 2004 at the Ukrainian Institute of Modern Art in Chicago as part of a program featuring his compositions. He is also a frequent contributor to Wagner Notes, the bi-monthly newsletter of the Richard Wagner Society of New York, having covered performances at the Deutsche Oper in Berlin, Wagner Festspiele in Bayreuth, Seattle Opera, and Lyric Opera of Chicago for the Society.
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