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March 2012 - Nr. 3

Joseph also featured as soloist in Peter Eötvös Cello Concerto Grosso

(North American premiere)

Toronto Symphony Orchestra’s New Creations Festival

Wednesday, March 7, 8 PM

Roy Thomson Hall
60 Simcoe Street

For ticket informtion,

**Limited review copies of “Rachmaninoff & Shostakovich Cello Sonatas” available via LIZPR**

TORONTO, ONTARIO – Cellist Joseph Johnson is releasing his debut CD, “Rachmaninoff & Shostakovich Cello Sonatas” the same day he makes the North American premiere of Peter Eötvös Cello Concerto Grosso with the TSO, a co-commission with the Berlin Philharmonic. The CD also features Joseph’s long-time musical partner, pianist Victor Asuncion. The repertoire features two sonatas for cello and piano: one by Rachmaninoff and the other, Shostakovich. The CD concludes with an arrangement of Rachmaninoff’s famous Vocalise. Joseph and Victor have worked together since 2009 and their rapport is evident in everything from their performances, the pictures from their photos shoots, and their dialogue in person. “Cellist Lynn Harrell insisted we meet,” explains Joe. “We first read through the Rachmaninoff in Santa Fe a few years ago. After each movement, we’d look at each other and laugh. Soon after we were plotting concert dates.” Victor adds, “We rarely talk when we rehearse. We just listen and feed off of each other’s musical instincts, and let the music roll. The guy is flawless – I have to be at my best!”

It’s a good thing they get on so well, because the recording process itself was a bit of an ordeal. “My cello fell out of its case a few days before the recording and sustained some damage. After a quick repair job, I flew to Minneapolis for the recording, getting sick along the way. At the venue, the lights buzzed and the heater hummed. So in the dead of a Minneapolis winter, picture a piano and cellist in a dark hall, surrounded by floor lamps, cords running everywhere, and scrunched up Kleenex all around my chair.” Victor maintains the easy part was the actual recording. “Despite all the odds, it took us a short amount of time to prepare for this recording – just one run-through.”

Joseph Johnson is heard throughout the world as a soloist, chamber musician and educator. 2011/2012 included a six-city US tour with Victor featuring repertoire from this album. Joseph also maintains an active solo career in North America as soloist and chamber musician. Principal cellist of the TSO since the 2009/2010 season, Joseph also serves as principal cellist of the Santa Fe Opera. A committed educator, he gives masterclasses throughout North America. He performs on a 1747 Juan Guillami cello, crafted in Barcelona. will be launched by summer 2012.

Hailed by the Washington Post for his “poised and imaginative playing,” pianist Victor Santiago Asuncion is recognized for his innate musical sensitivity, fiery temperament, and superb technique. As a recitalist and concerto soloist, he has appeared in major concert halls in Brazil, Canada, Japan, Mexico, Turkey and the Philippines. Conductors he has worked with include Sergio Esmilla, Enrique Batiz, Arthur Weisberg, David Loebel, Leon Fleisher, Michael Stern, and Bobby McFerrin.

A chamber music enthusiast, he has performed with Lynn Harrell, Antonio Meneses, Cho-Liang Lin, Marc Neikrug, Liang Wang, and the Vega and Emerson String quartets. Regular stops among many include the Aspen, Santa Fe, and Virtuosi Music Festivals.

Victor is Associate Professor of piano, and Director of Collaborative Arts Studies at the Rudi E. Scheidt School of Music at the University of Memphis. He received his Doctor of Musical Arts Degree in 2007 from the University of Maryland at College Park. His principal teachers include Roberta Rust, and Rita Sloan.


Joseph Johnson, Toronto Symphony Orchestra, symphony, Toronto, Ontario, Canada

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