Composer Scott Johnson has been a pioneering voice in the new relationship being forged between the classical tradition and the popular culture that surrounds it. An early advocate of using rock instruments and technology in scored composition, he has appeared as a virtuosic electric guitarist in many of his pieces. His early work introduced the idea of instrumental writing based on sampled speech, and later works continue to develop his musical gene-splicing, blending complex and intertwined chamber music with a rock band's hall-filling wall of sound.
Underneath the music lies a basic insight: the evolution of classical composition has always been shaped by its environments, and living composers are remaining true to that legacy when they draw on the ever-changing ecosystem of our own popular musics. Speaking the languages of contemporary culture will help us create a picture of our times, as composers of the past did with theirs.
Johnson's music has been commissioned and performed internationally by ensembles such as the Kronos Quartet, the Bang On A Can All-Stars, and Alarm Will Sound, as well as his own groups. His three decades of effort have been recognized with numerous grants and awards, including a Koussevitsky commission, a 2006 Guggenheim Fellowship, and a 2015 American Academy of Arts and Letters Fellowship.
The Listen page contains several complete works and movements from larger pieces. Excerpts from other works can be heard by going to Compositions, and clicking on titles with an << audio >> marking.