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  Composer Profiles

Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson Scott Johnson

Scott Johnson

Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of John Somebody, part I, 5:20. RealAudio mono version
Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of Listen, 5:00. RealAudio mono version
Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of Stone, 5:55. RealAudio mono version
Music for RealAudio G2 stereo version of What Would Have Happened, 2:30. RealAudio mono version
for MP3 streaming version of Universal Phenomenon, 6:52
Interview to read The Counterpoint of Species, 1997, an essay by the composer.
Interview to read The Hybrids, Thoroughbreds, and Survival, an essay by the composer.
for Full-size publicity photo of the composer (right-click and save as... to download).

Scott Johnson (b. 1952): Composer Scott Johnson has been a pioneering voice in the new relationship being forged between the "classical" tradition and the popular culture which surrounds it. Since the early 1980ís, he has played an influential role in the trend towards incorporating rock-derived instrumentation into traditionally scored compositions, and has often used taped, sampled and MIDI-controlled electronic elements within instrumental ensembles. His music has been heard in performances by the Kronos Quartet and the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and his own ensembles; in dance works performed by the Boston Ballet, the London Contemporary Dance Theater, and the Ballets de Monte Carlo; in Paul Schrader's film Patty Hearst, and in recordings on the Nonesuch, CRI, and Point labels.

Trained in both music and visual arts at the University of Wisconsin, Johnson moved to New York City in 1975, where his first projects included cross-disciplinary sound/visual installations and performances. His early experiments in combining prerecorded tape and electric instruments culminated in John Somebody (1980-82), in which the pitches and rhythms of recorded speech became the source material for an instrumental score; a technique which spread as digital sampling became common in the mid-1980's. Recent efforts in this field include How It Happens, a major work based on the voice of the late journalist I. F. Stone, as well as Convertible Debts and The Value of People and Things, both shorter works combining voice sampling with an electric ensemble.

Johnson's scores make extensive use of musical materials and sounds generally associated with the American vernacular, and many have been premiered with Mr. Johnson performing on the electric guitar. He has appeared at festivals, concert halls, and art museums throughout Europe and North America: first with self-performed compositions for solo electric guitar, tape, and electronics; later with an octet modeled on the American big band and rock traditions; and most recently with an electric quartet of violin, cello, electric guitar, and piano/synthesizer. New York City concert venues for Mr. Johnson's ensembles have included Lincoln Center's Alice Tully Hall, Merkin Hall, the Knitting Factory, and The Kitchen. Music for his electric quartet is available on a CD on the Point label, Rock/Paper/Scissors.

Scott Johnson Scott Johnson with K&D at the AMC

Johnson's commissioned works include How It Happens and Bird in the Domes for the Kronos Quartet; I Am New York City (confetti of flesh) for soprano Dora Ohrenstein (premiered by the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra), the score for Paul Schrader's film Patty Hearst, and Before Winter, recorded for the Boston Ballet by Mr. Johnson's own ensemble. He has received a 1999 Koussevitsky award, three fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, and four commissioning grants from the New York State Council on the Arts; as well as grants and commission support from Lincoln Center, the Meet The Composer/Readerís Digest Commissioning fund, the Jerome Foundation, the Brooklyn Academy of Music, the Concert Artists Guild and the Mary Flagler Cary Trust. He has published articles and essays on contemporary music, lectured on his ideas and music at conservatories and universities, and sat on grant panels for Meet the Composer, Chamber Music Americaís ASCAP Chamber Music Awards, and the National Endowment for the Arts.

Recent performances include a world premiere at the Lincoln Center Festival 2000, a chamber concert with members of the Minnesota Orchestra, and appearances at the Schleswig-Holstien Festival and the Brooklyn Academy of Musicís Next Wave Festival, and the Chamber Music Society of Lincoln Centerís "Great Day In New York" series. Upcoming projects include new works for both traditional and electro-acoustic ensembles, including the New Millennium Ensemble (commissioned by the Koussevitsky Foundation) and the Bang On A Can All-Stars.

John Somebody John Somebody
Rock, Paper, Scissors Rock, Paper, Scissors
Crossing the Blvd Music on Crossing the Blvd

To reach the composer:
By telephone/fax: +1-212-961-9490
By physical mail: 250 W. 102 ST. #5B, New York NY 10025 USA