Joseph Johnson

Cello (Community Program Mentor)

Joseph Johnson has been heard throughout the world as a soloist, chamber musician and educator. His festival appearances include performances in all classical genres at the American festivals of Santa Fe, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Bard, Cactus Pear, Grand Teton, and Music in the Vineyards as well as the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and the Virtuosi Festival in Brazil. 

Highlights of Joseph Johnson’s 2023/2024 season include concerto performances of the Brahms Double Concerto with Symphony Nova Scotia, CPE Bach Concerto in a minor at U of T, Strauss Don Quixote with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, as well as the Beethoven Triple Concerto with Jonathan Crow and Jan Lisiecki with the Toronto Symphony. Recent recital and chamber music appearances include performances at the Faculty of Music Walter Hall series at the University of Toronto, the Chatter series in Albuquerque, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, as well as the Shostakovich Cello Concerto with the Niagara Symphony.

A champion of new Music, Joseph has played the Canadian Premiere of the Unsuk Chin Cello Concerto with the Esprit Orchestra, Canadian Premiere of the Miguel del Aguila Cello Concerto with the Toronto Symphony and Edmonton Symphony, North American Premiere of the Peter Oetvos Cello Concerto with the Toronto Symphony, and the Marc-Andre Dalbavie Cello Concerto with the Esprit Orchestra.  

Principal cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since the 2009/2010 season, Mr. Johnson previously held the same position with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as Principal  Cellist of the Santa Fe Opera, and during the 2008-2009 season, was acting Principal Cellist of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. Mr. Johnson has also performed as guest Principal Cellist with the Detroit Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Trondheim Symphony, and this year will serve as guest Principal Cellist with the San Francisco Symphony for their Carnegie Hall/Europe Tour in the Spring.  Prior to his Milwaukee appointment, Joseph Johnson was a member of The Minnesota Orchestra cello section for eleven years, during which time he performed numerous chamber music works during the orchestra’s Sommerfest, both as cellist and pianist. He was a founding member of both the Prospect Park Players and the Minneapolis Quartet, the latter of which was honoured with The McKnight Foundation Award in 2005.

A gifted and inspiring teacher, Mr. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Toronto, the cello coach for the Toronto Youth Symphony, and regular coach and teacher at the New World Symphony in Miami.  He has conducted numerous master classes for a wide range of institutions and ensembles, including The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, the youth orchestras of the Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, Madison, and Toronto symphonies, as well as The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto. 

A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Joseph Johnson earned his Master’s degree from Northwestern University. Awards and honours include a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music and first prize from the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition.

Mr. Johnson performs on a magnificent Paolo Castello cello crafted in Genoa in 1780.