biography

PhotoEvan Johnson (b. 1980) is an American composer whose music focuses on extremes of density and of reticence, of difficulty and of sparsity, and on hiding itself. Described as “conjuring a Beckett-like eloquence from stammers and silences” (Ivan Hewitt, The Telegraph), and as “creating genuine magic … music [which] will be with us for a very long time” (Tim Rutherford-Johnson, The Rambler), his work has been performed throughout North America, Europe and beyond by ensembles such as musikFabrik, ELISION, the International Contemporary Ensemble, the MIVOS Quartet, ensemble mosaikWet Ink, Dal NienteEnsemble SurPlusEXAUDIloadbang, ekmeles, the Quatuor Bozzini, and the New London Chamber Choir; pianists Ian PaceMichael Finnissy, Mark Knoop, Frederik Croene, and Sebastian Berweck; flutists Richard Craig and Claire Chase; clarinetists Carl Rosman and Gareth Davis; and soloists from the National Symphony Orchestra, among others.

His work has been programmed at American and international festivals of contemporary music, including the Darmstadt Summer CoursesWittener Tage für neue KammermusikHuddersfield Contemporary Music FestivalTRANSIT (Leuven)Klangwerkstatt BerlinDark Music Days (Reykjavik), Bludenzer Tage zeitgemäße MusikAcht Brücken (Cologne), the Spitalfields Festival, the Ensemblia FestivalJune in Buffalo, soundON (San Diego) and others, featured on the Monday Evening Concerts series in Los Angeles, and heard at such venues as Miller Theatre (New York) and London’s Wigmore Hall.  Recordings of his work are available or forthcoming on HCRMetierNew Focus, Label musikFabrik, Parlour Tapes, and Wergo, while portrait discs are in the works on Carrier Records and Another Timbre. Selected scores are published by Edition Gravis (Berlin).

The recipient of a Fellowship Prize at the 2012 Darmstadt Summer Courses and a 2011 Meet the Composer Commissioning Music/USA commission, Johnson is a 2013 Fellow of the Massachusetts Cultural Council, and has also received a 2010 Aaron Copland Award and 2009 Carlos Surinach Commission from BMI and the Concert Artists Guild.  Other awards include those from ASCAPBMI, Columbia University (2006 Joseph H. Bearns Prize), the Rhode Island Foundation (2008 Robert and Margaret MacColl Johnson Fellowship in Composition), the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, the Society for New Music, and Yale University, among others.  In 2011 he held residencies at Copland House and the Millay Colony for the Arts.

Also active as a writer on music, Johnson has contributed to TempoContemporary Music ReviewMusikTexte, Music Theory Spectrum, GroveMusic Online, and NewMusicBox, and provided booklet essays for Peter Ablinger’s 33-127 on Mode Records, for a disc of works by Aaron Cassidy on NEOS, and for James WeeksTIDE Trilogy on Metier.

He received his Ph.D. in composition from the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he studied with David Felder as a Presidential Fellow; other teachers include Johannes Schöllhorn, Chaya Czernowin, Richard Barrett and Brian Ferneyhough.  A 2002 graduate from Yale University, Johnson has been invited to numerous composition seminars and summer programs in the USA, Canada and Europe. From 2007 to 2010, he was a postdoctoral teaching associate in music theory and composition at Northeastern University; more recently, he has served as a lecturer at Harvard University.