A charismatic performer and an outstanding musician, Canada’s premiere percussionist Beverley Johnston is internationally recognized for her virtuosic and dynamic performances on a wide range of percussion instruments. Her exciting performances have been distinguished as non-conventional, effectively combining classical transcriptions, contemporary music and a touch of theatre. She has captivated audiences across North America and overseas with her personal charm and her unique style and her performances and recordings have been broadcast on radio networks all over the world. She has released four solo CDs: IMPACT and ALTERNATE CURRENTS on the Centrediscs label, MARIMBACH on the CBC Records Musica Viva label and has just released her fourth solo recording called GARDEN OF DELIGHTS which can be purchased on her webpage www.beverleyjohnston.com . She can also be heard as soloist or chamber musician on numerous other recordings.
In the 1990’s Beverley has performed in Japan and has done several cross-Canada tours. She has performed the North American premiere of Japanese composer Maki Ishii’s powerful work Afro Concerto with the Esprit Orchestra, and two concerti with the CBC Vancouver Orchestra written especially for her by Canadian composers Gary Kulesha and Patrick Cardy. In October 1994, she secured a BBC Audition that was termed an “outstanding success” by the BBC Jury.
She has made several successful appearances at the Winnipeg New Music Festival which has included a virtuosic concerto by Canadian composer Omar Daniel with The Hannaford Street Silver Band. This work is one of the featured pieces on their latest recording entitled HEAVY METAL. At the 1994 Guelph Spring Festival she performed the world premiere of Michael Colgrass’ outstanding new work Te Tuma Te Papa with subsequent performances by her all over the world.
In the 1995/96 season, Ms. Johnston was showcased at the renowned International Percussive Arts Society Convention in Phoenix, Arizona and was also the subject of an hour-long documentary on CBC TV’s nationally broadcast “Sunday Arts and Entertainment”. Her performance on this program was nominated for a GEMINI award in the “Best Performance in a Performing Arts Program” category.
Since then Ms. Johnston has toured England, Norway and Sweden and was invited to perform a solo recital at the prestigious Ford Centre in North York, which was an outstanding success. In October of 1998 she was invited to perform at the Stockholm International Percussion Event which included many of the world’s finest percussionists. Other guest solo appearances included the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra, the Scotia Festival of Music, Vancouver New Music Society and the Journees de la Percussion in Paris, France.
Since the millennium she has been busy with concerto performances and recital programs across North America including performances of James Macmillan’s well known percussion concerto Veni, Veni Emmanuel in 2002 with Symphony Nova Scotia, Canadian composer Alice Ho’s evocative concerto Radiantia with the Hamilton Philharmonic and South Dakota Symphony and most recently (February, 2003) the world premiere of Pyrrichean Dances for percussion, viola and string orchestra by Christos Hatzis with the Manitoba Chamber Orchestra. In the 2004/2005 season, among other engagements, she was a featured soloist with both the Symphony Nova Scotia and the Kitchener Waterloo Symphony Orchestras along with guest appearances with AMICI, The Penderecki String Quartet, The Blue Rider Ensemble and Soundstreams Canada. Festival appearances included the Open Ears Festival and the Zeltsman Marimba Festival.
Among Beverley’s other performing interests, she has been keen in developing her passion for performance collaborations, which has included the combination of dance, movement, art and theatre. From the 1990s to the present, she has worked with such organizations as URGE (the women’s collective), the BLUE RIDER ENSEMBLE, Valerie Kuinka’s COLLABORATIONS series, Winnipeg’s performance artist/pianist/composer Diana McIntosh, and has worked with renowned theatre/opera director Richard Armstrong and television/theatre directors Joanna McIntyre and George Bloomfeld. One of her highlights in 1998 was working with composer Peter Hatch, costume designers Steve Topping and Aniko Fenyvesi and choreographer Bill James to create a solo dance/music work titled Psionic Interference where she played small percussion instruments attached to her costume. It’s the first time Johnston really enjoyed hitting herself!
Her interest in music outreach programs for the past 25 years is reflected in her performances of hundreds of school concerts both as a soloist and with the TORONTO PERCUSSION ENSEMBLE.
Beverley Johnston received her training at Vanier College in her native Montreal and at the University of Toronto, where she studied with Russell Hartenberger, and where she now teaches. She currently lives in rural Ontario with her husband, composer Christos Hatzis where she has built a percussion studio that can finally fit all of her exotic instruments!