Crag Randal Johnson: Biography    

craig randal johnson

Craig Randal Johnson maintains a triple career as conductor, solo and collaborative pianist as well as double bassist.    Based in Minneapolis, Minnesota,  Mr. Johnson is co-founder and Artistic Director of Minnehaha Music.    Johnson has recently created ‘Finnish Classical Music Past and Present’,  a concert series in Minneapolis-St. Paul featuring recitalists and chamber music during 2017, the 100th year of Finnish national independence.   Johnson is most interested in performing and promoting high quality music which deserves more public attention.

Craig Randal Johnson has conducted the Florida Symphony Orchestra, Superior Festival Orchestra, Marquette Symphony, North Star Opera,  Metropolitan Symphony (MN), Boreal Chamber Symphony, symphony concerts for Finnfest USA, and local orchestras and theater productions.   In Germany Mr. Johnson conducted large scale Brecht play productions, composing music for numerous theater works.  Mr. Johnson was Resident Conductor for the Rome Festival Orchestra for three seasons, conducting Mozart operas as well as orchestral repertoire, receiving highly positive reviews from the Italian press.  In summer 2011 Craig Randal Johnson received international recognition as conductor of the US premiere of Jukka Linkola’s opera “Rockland”, produced by the Pine Mountain Music Festival (Michigan). ‘Opera’ Magazine in London lauded the conducting of this large scale production:

“...the conductor Craig Randal Johnson brought out the darkness in the music, kept the score and the singers well balanced, and made the climaxes pay off.”

Mr. Johnson has performed numerous solo piano recitals, and continues to play new and innovative programs featuring Finnish and American music, as well as selections from the standard piano repertoire.   Recent appearances include recitals in Marquette MI, Minneapolis MN , Georgia, North Carolina, Maine, Connecticut, as well as programs with clarinetist Gregory Barrett in Illinois and Buffalo, New York.    He has appeared on WNYC-New York, in Helsinki, Hannover (Germany), Los Angeles, Iowa City, Hartford CT and other cities in the USA, Germany and Finland. (see concert listings elsewhere on this website).   Mr. Johnson has performed as solo pianist across the United States as “Finlandia Foundation Performer of the Year".

Johnson held repetitor/ coaching positions at the Staatsoper Braunschweig, Bremen Opera/ Ballet and the Osnabrück Opera and Theater. , He has been music coach/ accompanist for members of the Finnish National Opera, the Fargo-Moorhead Opera, Opera Columbus, and the Augsburg Masterworks Chorale, as well as serving as staff accompanist at International Society of Bassist Conventions. He has accompanied singers Esa Ruuttunen (Finland), James Koenig (Los Angeles), Mimmi Fulmer (Madison), David Harris (Minneapolis), Hreinn Lindal (New York), Elizabeth Wärnefeldt (Sweden), the Belgian soprano Françoise Vanhecke,  double bassists Evan Premo, Etienne Lafrance, Ted Botsford, Maggie Hassbacher and others in recital.  As pianist or music director Johnson has collaborated with notable writers and directors including Eric Bentley, Joachim Lucchesi, Jussi Tapola, Goswin Moniac, Larry Whiteley and Helmut Kajzar, the latter an important figure in the Polish literary avant-garde during the Communist period. In 2012 Mr. Johnson was accompanist, conductor and music coach at Atelier Apulia, an intensive vocal program in southern Italy.  

Earlier in his career Mr. Johnson was Principal Bassist of the Florida Symphony, and held positions with the Staatsorchester Braunschweig, the Aspen Chamber Symphony and Columbus (OH) Symphony. More recently he was double bassist with the Minneapolis-based Arius Chamber Music Society. He has played with the Florida Gulf Coast Symphony, Jacksonville Symphony, Radio Sinfonie Orchester Berlin, the Osnabrücker Sinfoniker, Staatsorchester Kassel, amongst others.

Craig Randal Johnson holds an M.M. degree from Northwestern University in Evanston IL, and a B.A. in liberal arts from the University of Minnesota. Johnsonhas studied and coached with conductors Otmar Suitner (GMD Deutsche Staatsoper Berlin), Charles Bruck, Richard Burgin, Bernard Rubenstein amongst others.   Double Bass professors and teachers have includedJoseph Guastafeste (Chicago Sym.), James Clute (MN Orch.) , Warren Benfield (Chicago Sym.) and Lucas Drew, as well as pianists Bernhard Weiser and James Douglas Johnson.