Michael Johanson’s music reflects a deep interest in bringing together materials drawn from a wide range of styles and approaches, all filtered through a distinctly personal voice. His work is informed by an abiding interest in timbral and coloristic possibilities, a wide-ranging harmonic palette, an interest in extended instrumental techniques, and the occasional integration of elements found in jazz. Johanson’s compositions have been performed at various concerts and festivals throughout the United States and abroad by distinguished soloists and ensembles.
Ensembles and organizations in the states which have featured Johanson’s music include the International Beethoven Project (Chicago, IL); the Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival; Fear No Music; VIR Men’s Ensemble; the James Madison University Contemporary Music Festival; Portland Piano International; June in Buffalo; the Society of Composers Incorporated; Resonance Ensemble; the Williams College Chamber Players; “A Celebration of New Music” at Texas Tech University; Western Washington University; Wild Rumpus; the Great Western Horn Symposium in Las Vegas; the Cascadia Composers concert series; and the Lewis & Clark College Orchestra. Commissions include those from the International Beethoven Project, Portland Piano International, Trio Bella Voce, the Northwest Horn Orchestra, Post-Haste Duo, Portland Percussion Group, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the Oregon Repertory Singers, the Portland Chamber Orchestra, and March Music Moderne. Performances outside of the states have taken place in venues such as St. John’s Smith Square in London, England; the Shenyang Conservatory of Music in China; the Peterskirche Basel in Basel, Switzerland; the Thai National Theater Recital Hall in Bangkok; the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts; and Fontainebleau, France.
Distinguished performers who have played and/or commissioned Johanson’s music include Frederick Hemke, Kia-Hui Tan, Peter Henderson, Iwan Roth, Susan Smith, Justin Bartlett, Inés Voglar, Joël Belgique, Leander Star, James Giles, Kevin Schempf, Brian Kilp, Sean Fredenburg, Javier Rodriguez, Justin Kagan, Dunja Marcum, Garth Simmons, and many others.
Johanson has received awards and/or fellowships from institutions such as the American Music Center, ASCAP, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, the Wildacres Residency, and Palazzo Rinaldi (Noepoli, Italy). He is the 2015 recipient of the Oregon Music Teacher’s Association Composer of the Year Award. Johanson served as the 2012 Composer-in-Residence at the Jubilus Music Festival in Gainesville, Florida. In 2009, he received the Gil Seeley Prize in Composition given by the Oregon Repertory Singers. Recordings of Johanson’s music include “Memento,” recorded by internationally acclaimed saxophonist Frederick Hemke on his CD titled “Simple Gifts,” and “Dynamo” for solo trombone, featured on Garth Simmons’ “American Visions” CD. Johanson’s “Eternal Gardens” was recently recorded for Portland Piano International, and an upcoming recording by the Post-Haste Duo will feature Johanson’s “Soundscapes.” Mr. Johanson’s music is published by September Hills, Honeyrock Publishing, and Dorn Publications.
Formerly on the faculties of Indiana State University, Williams College, and Stetson University, he is Associate Professor of Composition and Music Theory at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He serves as Artistic Director of Friends of Rain, Lewis & Clark’s faculty contemporary music ensemble.