Pianist Lura Johnson is a Steinway Artist and the Second Prizewinner, as a member of Duo Baltinati with cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn, of the 2015 International Johannes Brahms Competition Chamber Music Division. Hailed as “brilliant” by The Washington Post, she is celebrated for her passionate and insightful interpretations of the standard repertoire and esteemed by colleagues for her uncommon sensitivity and skill as a collaborative partner. Equally comfortable as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral musician, she is the principal pianist of the Delaware Symphony and has performed extensively as the pianist of choice for the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra, at the pleasure of Marin Alsop, since 2007. Trained by luminaries Robert McDonald and Leon Fleisher, Johnson’s extensive orchestral collaborators include Pinchas Zukerman, Yo Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, Midori, Leila Josefowicz, Augustin Hadelich, Joshua Bell, and Jean-Yves Thibaudet, and the St. Lawrence String Quartet. Johnson has also performed as soloist with the Baltimore and Delaware Symphonies, performing Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and the complete Bach Brandenburg Concerti multiple times.
Johnson’s discography includes a 2001 album, The Jennings-Johnson Duo, with flutist Christina Jennings, and 2010 Centaur Records release of Inner Voice, with BSO violist Peter Minkler, featuring sonatas by Rochberg and Shostakovich. This recording of Arvo Pärt’s spiegel im spiegel was featured in the official teaser trailer for the 2013 Warner Brothers film Gravity, directed by Alfonso Cuarón and starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock. Johnson can also be heard on several recordings released by the BSO, including Naxos’ Grammy nominated release of the Bernstein Mass, on which she played principal keyboard. Johnson’s first solo CD, Turning, was released in summer of 2014. She has recorded for the Foxridge, Naxos, Innova, Centaur, Albany, and Azica labels.
Devoted to chamber music from an early age, her many recital partners include Baltimore Symphony concertmaster Jonathan Carney, with whom she has presented the complete Brahms violin sonata cycle, clarinetist Anthony McGill, cellists Ilya Finkelshteyn, Amit Peled, and Kenneth Slowik, and flutist Marina Piccinini. She is a founding member of three duos, the Jennings-Johnson Duo with flutist Christina Jennings, Times Two with violinist Netanel Draiblate, and Duo Lalu, a cabaret duo with soprano Lara Bruckmann. She performs with VERGE Ensemble, 21st Century Consort, PostClassical Ensemble, and the Towson New Music Ensemble.
Johnson has taught piano at the Peabody Conservatory since 2002 and from 2013 to 2015 was director of chamber music at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C. She has taught on the faculty of the Sequoia Chamber Music Workshop and the Apple Hill Center for Chamber Music.
Formerly the artistic director of Baltimore chamber music series Music in the Great Hall, Johnson has also worked as pianist and general manager with the PostClassical Ensemble in Washington, D.C., an innovative and wildly ambitious chamber orchestra that is reinventing and reinvigorating the presentation of classical music with programming that is thematic and cross-disciplinary.
When not onstage, Johnson can be found on the dance floor. She is an avid social and competitive dancer with roots in gymnastics, ballet, and ballroom, specializing now in West Coast Swing.