© 2019 ABMC Productions

Joseph Johnson

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

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 2017/2018 fall/winter season include concerto performances of the Tchaikovsky Rococo Variations with the Toronto Symphony.  Other concerto appearances include the Dvorak Concerto at the Lakes Area Festival, the Elgar Concerto with the Etobicoke Philharmonic, and Bernstein’s Three Meditations with the Lexington Philharmonic. Recital appearances this year include performances at the Faculty of Music Walter hall series at the University of Toronto, the Chatter series in Albuquerque, Placitas Artist Series, Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival, Toronto Summer Music Program, Mountain View Music in Calgary, Noon Concert series at the Canadian Opera Company, the Chamber Players series in Toronto, Mainly Mozart Festival in San Diego, Maui Chamber Music, hurricane relief concerts for St. Thomas and St. John in the USVI, and the Prince Edward County Chamber Music Festival.


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. 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, as well as the cello coach for the Toronto Youth Symphony. He has conducted numerous master classes for a wide range of institutions and ensembles, including The New World Symphony, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, and the youth orchestras of the Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Toronto symphonies, as well as at 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. He uses Jarger Superior brand strings exclusively.

Live Recordings

Dvorak Concerto - 1st mvt - Joseph Johnson
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Dvorak Cello Concerto (live) - 1st movement clip

Joseph Johnson, cello

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra

February 2009

Saint-Saëns Concerto - 3rd mvt - Unknown Artist
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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 -
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Shostakovich Sonata - 2nd mvt -
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Northwestern University Cello Ensemble

Hans Jorgen Jensen, Director

Rachmaninoff - Vocalise

Joseph Johnson, cello

Vocalise - Rachmaninoff
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