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15 Questions to Emma Johnson

img  Tobias

Hi! How are you? Where are you?
Hi!, I'm exhausted after shooting a video for the last few days in my studio in London. It's a video covering all the aspects of clarinet and performance technique that tend to come up when I give masterclasses. It's for a company called and it will go live on their site early next year. It's been exciting to do something a bit different...

What's on your schedule right now?
This month I am looking forward to a tour with the Ulster Orchestra including a performance of the Mozart clarinet concerto to be broadcast on BBC Radio3. I also have a number of recitals coming up including one in London at the Cadogan Hall on October 21st.

If you hadn't chosen for music, what do you think you would do right now?
I would like to be a writer- in fact I got into university to study English originally but changed to music half way through the course when it became clear that that was the way my life was going.

What or who was your biggest influence as an artist?
I have always admired the Baritone Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau.

What's the hardest part about being a musician?
You have to keep doing your best and can never rest on your laurels.

...and what's the best?
When a performance goes well and you feel you communicated something.

What's your view on the classical music scene at present? Is there a crisis?
Things are changing. The loss of recording revenue means a loss in investment in classical music. I think classical music will come out of this leaner but perhaps fitter.

Some feel there is no need to record classical music any more, that it's all been done before. What do you tell them?
I think our definition of classical music needs to broaden. I'm soon to make a CD of Copland, Bernstein and John Dankworth.

What constitutes a good live performance in your opinion? What's your approach to performing on stage?

When a performance goes well you feel there are no technical barriers to get in the way of the music. You and your instrument become the voice of the composer.

What does the word "interpretation" mean to you?

The notes you read on the page are just a guide. A gifted musician has the ability to see beyond the notes to the emotional subtext of the music, the essence of what it is trying to convey.

How do you balance the need to to put your personal emotions into the music you play and the intentions of the composer?
My emotions are always a response to the music and at the service of the music. But I can of course only feel the emotions of which I am capable. They have to be my emotions. That is why it is important for a musician to develop and enrich their emotional palette through experiencing life, studying other arts etc. etc.

True or false: People need to be educated about classical music, before they can really appreciate it.

You are given the position of artistic director of a concert hall. What would be on your program for this season?
I am always surprised how little English music is played, especially abroad, so I would programme Vaughan Williams symphonies and a concerto being written for me as we speak by the lyrical English composer, Stephen Barlow.

How would you describe the relationship with your instrument?
It is my voice.

Have you ever tried playing a different instrument? If yes, how good were you at it?
I love to play the piano and used to accompany people in school concerts, but sadly I have never had time to put in the hours and hours of practice I would need to get really good at it. I play it strictly only in private!

Weber: Clarinet Concertos (1991) ASV
Finzi/Stanford - Clarinet Concertos (1993) ASV
Emma Johnson Plays Crusell (1994) ASV
Encores - Emma Johnson (1999) ASV
The Essential Emma Johnson (2000) ASV
The Art of Emma Johnson (2004) ASV
Voyage (2004) UCJ
The Mozart Album (2005) UCJ

Emma Johnson

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