Let’s Talk Conducting with Adam Johnson! – curious arts

This week we had the opportunity to interview Canadian conductor and U of A graduate, Adam Johnson, about how he became interested in conducting and what he enjoys most about this particular career.

In 2001 Adam graduated from the University of Alberta with a Bachelor’s Degree in piano performance and later received a doctorate from the University of Montreal, also in piano performance.

Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal

By focusing on performance throughout his studies, Adam feels he gained valuable experience being on stage, which has undoubtedly aided his career in conducting.

His interest in orchestras and classical music began when the Edmonton Symphony Orchestra held an outreach concert in his hometown of Hinton, Alberta. This was the first time he experienced a live orchestral performance and he absolutely loved it.

Photo Credit: Jesse Luimes

A few weeks ago, Adam visited Edmonton to guest conduct two ESO concerts. Sometimes, guest conducting for an orchestra can be challenging because each ensemble develops a unique way of performing repertoire and adjusting to the style of a new conductor can take time. However, this was the third time he’s had the opportunity to guest conduct for the ESO and feels he’s been able to establish an excellent relationship with the ensemble. Adam believes having a strong connection with your fellow musicians is crucial for the quality of a performance. Therefore, he’s always ecstatic to return to Edmonton and work with the orchestra that initially encouraged his love for classical music.

Photo Credit: Jesse Luimes

When asked if he experiences stage fright while conducting, Adam revealed he believes nerves can be a good thing. Being nervous before a concert shows you’re both engaged and dedicated to providing the audience with a fantastic performance.

For Adam, being a conductor and committing yourself to helping an orchestra give their best performance possible is an incredibly inspirational and rewarding experience. He’s constantly in awe of the music he helps create and appreciates the sense of community he gets to experience every day at work.

Photo Credit: Antoine Saito

Adam is currently enjoying his second season as the assistant conductor to Maestro Kent Nagano with the Orchestre Symphonique de Montréal.

More information about Adam and his current conducting roles can be found on his website

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