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Joseph Johnson

Principal Cellist, Toronto Symphony / Principal Cellist, Santa Fe Opera

Principal cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since 2009, Joseph Johnson previously held the same position with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as principal cellist of the Santa Fe Opera. Prior to his Milwaukee appointment, Joseph Johnson was a member of the Minnesota Orchestra cello section for 11 years. 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.

Mr. 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. Recent highlights include the Canadian Première of the Unsuk Chin Cello Concerto with the Esprit Orchestra, as well as Tchaikovsky’s Rococo Variations with the Kingston Symphony and Etobicoke Philharmonic. Upcoming concerts include concerto engagements with the Niagara Symphony and Symphony Nova Scotia.

A gifted and inspiring teacher, Mr. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Cello at the University of Toronto, as well as the cello coach for the Toronto Symphony Youth Orchestra and the New World Symphony in Miami Beach, FL. He conducts numerous masterclasses for a wide range of institutions and ensembles.

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. 


Live Recordings

Dvorak Concerto - 1st mvt - Joseph Johnson

Dvorak Cello Concerto (live) - 1st movement clip

Joseph Johnson, cello

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

February 2009

Saint-Saëns Concerto - 3rd mvt - Unknown Artist

Saint-Saëns Cello Concerto (live) - 3rd movement clip

Joseph Johnson, cello

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

April 2010

Matt Walker - "Yo Yo Joe"

Yo-Yo Ma & Joseph Johnson, cellos

Toronto, 22 May 2013


TSO Moments: Joseph Johnson

Rachmaninoff / Shostakovich Sonatas

Joseph Johnson, cello / Victor Asuncion, piano​

Rachmaninoff Sonata - 1st mvt -
Shostakovich Sonata - 2nd mvt -

Northwestern University Cello Ensemble

Hans Jorgen Jensen, Director

Rachmaninoff - Vocalise

Joseph Johnson, cello

Vocalise - Rachmaninoff
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