Lawrence hosts violin virtuoso

Tony Gherardini and Tim Ruberton

As a part of the Ben Holt Memorial Concert Series, Lawrence is privileged to host Gareth Johnson, accompanied by Professor Michael Kim. The concert will take place Saturday, Oct. 5 at 8:00 p.m. in Harper Hall. Johnson will be performing works by Antonio Vivaldi, Johannes Brahms, Maurice Ravel, Chevalier de Saint-George, and others. Johnson is quickly gaining renown in the realm of orchestral music. The New York Times praises Johnson’s “prodigious musical gifts” and also declares, “Like Joshua Bell or Maxim Vengerov, he dominates the stage.”

In addition to his numerous awards, Johnson has performed with top notch orchestras such as the Boston Pops, Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, New World Symphony, and the orchestras of Detroit, Battle Creek, and Cincinnati. His orchestral career has already included a stint as associate concertmaster of the St. Louis Symphony Concert Orchestra.

However, of all the awards and accolades Johnson holds, few are as impressive as his age. Johnson started playing the violin at the age of ten, and now, six years later, he is astonishing people all over the country. In 2000, he released a CD of Vivaldi’s violin concerti, “The Four Seasons.”

As a student, he has studied at a long list of schools and festivals across the country. The Chicago Institute of Music, the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the St. Louis Symphony Preparatory School of Music, and the Lynn University Conservatory have all enrolled him at one time. Johnson has also attended the music festivals at Aspen, Rocky Mountain, and the International School of Music in Toronto, all of them festivals that have invited Lawrence students in the past.

The Ben Holt Memorial Concert Series showcases African-American musicians and composers. For this reason, it is particularly appropriate that Johnson will be playing music by Chevalier de Saint-George, one of the first African-American classical composers.

Saint-George provides the recital program with a strong connection to Lawrence through two people, associate professor of voice Patrice Michaels and visiting professor of music history Dominique-Rene de Lerma. Michaels has sung and recorded Saint-George’s music often. De Lerma is a widely-recognized authority on Saint-George and African-American musicians in general. This concert series exists largely through his influence.

Johnson’s appearance is one of the many “must-see” performances this year at Lawrence. The Ben Holt Memorial Concert is an annual event.

Free tickets can be picked up at the Lawrence box office in Brokaw Hall from 12:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday, or reserved by phone (920) 832-6749.