Campbell River pianist joins Vancouver Island Symphony for hometown concert

“Let me show you how beautiful the music is,” says Campbell River’s own, Canadian pianist, Carter Johnson.

“It’s not always the most complex or most popular pieces that make music inspiring,” Johnson says, referencing the only piano concerto written by German Romantic composer, Robert Schumann. “Sometimes, it’s the progression of a mental state reflected in the music, how it goes from a place that maybe you don’t want to be, to a very happy place.”

Johnson will perform Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, op. 54 with The Vancouver Island Symphony in INSPIRATION! on Friday, Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m. at Campbell River’s Tidemark Theatre.

“I feel more intimacy with the orchestra in this piece,” Johnson says comparing it to concertos. “Most of the emotions are wrapped up in the first movement, sadness and a little anger. The second movement is light and charming and very pretty. The third movement is bursting with energy and quite happy.”

Johnson grew up in Campbell River but currently lives in Vancouver with his wife, Hannah, and baby, Preston. Johnson has been playing the piano since he was five and while he doesn’t remember, he’s been told by his parents, whom he doesn’t describe as “musical,” that he asked for lessons. His grandparents are musical though.

“I never thought about it being a difficulty, that my parents aren’t musical,” he says. “In some ways, it might have been better. Some of my students are pushed a lot. Sometimes that has a good effect, and sometimes it doesn’t. I often wonder if I’m going to teach my kids, or if someone else will.”

While piano is his first love, Johnson also plays oboe and harpsichord and says the voice is his favourite instrument.

“The thing I most love about piano is there is such a crazy amount of amazing repertoires for piano that we will never be able to play it all. There is always something to learn and discover. You can play so many notes at a time on the piano and you can play 88 keys from low to high. There is so much you can do, such variety of sound you can create with the piano. It’s huge.”

He adds that he also likes the piano for pragmatic reasons as well. “Everyone needs a pianist for auditions and juries. We’re always the ones getting paid.”

While Johnson has performed on Vancouver Island in the past, this is his first time performing with the Vancouver Island Symphony. At 22-years-old, he is hailed as one of Canada’s most promising young pianists. He has extensive competition experience, with an impressive list of wins, the most recent of which is the prestigious Grand Prize at the OSM Manulife Competition.

You can experience Carter Johnson with the Vancouver Island Symphony on Friday, Feb. 15, 7:30 p.m. The concert also features a forgotten Schubert Overture and Mozart’s Symphony no. 40 in G minor.

To purchase tickets, visit

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