Perhaps best known for her six string quartets (championed by the Fitzwilliam Quartet) Liz Johnson’s works also include finely crafted and evocative solo, chamber, ensemble, vocal and choral works. Born on the south coast of England, Johnson started composing seriously in her mid-30s when she took a ‘year out’ from her school classroom-teaching job to study for a Masters in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. She was encouraged not to go back to the day job and hasn’t looked back since. Constantly exploring new paths takes Johnson’s music into all manner of expressive forms;
I compose everything from huge complex works to tiny miniatures and I often find myself balancing a large multi-faceted piece by composing something that is very simple, short and pure.
The exploration continues in 2019 as she explains;
This year is full of new developments for me. Thanks to Sound and Music’s New Voices scheme I have started working with top choreographers and film-makers focussing on my ambitious multi-disciplinary work ‘Scintilla’ which will develop into multiple outputs, both live and digital – including a VR version. I’m also composing a set of new solos for baroque instruments, working with some of the top players in the UK, and looking forward to working with Jeffrey Skidmore on creating a new cantata for choir and baroque ensemble.
The breadth of Johnson’s output is mirrored by the range of inspirations, often coming via the work of poets, artists and through personal encounters with the natural world. For the perfect introduction take a listen to her 2018 double album Intricate Web on the Métier Label.
Composers Edition is pleased to be publishing an initial 36 works from her catalogue of over 70, with more on the way! Alongside the string quartets there are instrumental works for multi-saxophone groups, harp, baroque violin, string ensemble. Johnson’s considerable output for choir and chamber voices is represented by 19 secular and sacred works. Also available are 5 works for solo voice piano or chamber group, including settings of poets such as Jo Shapcott and Kathleen Jamie.
Liz Johnson Profile & Works
I’m delighted to join Composers Edition and it’s great to be working with the team to build up my catalogue – allowing a little more light to shine on my work.Liz Johnson