Michael Morgan, Guest Conductor
Joseph Stillwell - Music for a Forgotten City
Dvorak - Cello Concerto
Joseph Johnson, cello
Kalinnikov - Symphony No. 1
Part of BARS’ LGBTQ Composer and Performing Artist Series, which strives to redefine perceptions of LGBTQ music and increase awareness of the beauty, talents, and accomplishments of fellow LGBTQ individuals and groups.
About Michael Morgan, guest conductor
Michael Morgan was born in Washington, DC, where he attended public schools and began conducting at the age of 12. While a student at Oberlin College Conservatory of Music, he spent a summer at the Berkshire Music Center at Tanglewood, studying with Gunther Schuller and Seiji Ozawa. It was during this summer that he first worked with Leonard Bernstein.
His operatic debut was in 1982 at the Vienna State Opera conducting Mozart’s The Abduction from the Seraglio. In 1986, Sir Georg Solti chose him to become the Assistant Conductor of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, a position he held for five years under both Solti and Daniel Barenboim. Also in 1986 he was invited by Leonard Bernstein to make his debut with the New York Philharmonic. As a guest conductor he has appeared with most of America’s major orchestras as well as with the New York City Opera, St. Louis Opera Theater and Washington National Opera.
In addition to his duties with Oakland East Bay Symphony, Maestro Morgan serves as Artistic Director of Oakland Symphony Youth Orchestra, Music Director of Sacramento Philharmonic and Opera, Music Director of Bear Valley Music Festival, and teaches the graduate conducting course at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. As Stage Director he has led productions of Bernstein’s Mass at the Oakland East Bay Symphony and stagings of Mozart’s Don Giovanni and Benjamin Britten’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream and Gounod’s Faust at Festival Opera. As a chamber musician (piano) he has appeared on the Chamber Music Alive series in Sacramento as well as making the occasional appearance in the Bay Area.
He was honored by the San Francisco Chapter of The Recording Academy with the 2005 Governor’s Award for Community Service. On the opposite coast, the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers (ASCAP) chose Morgan as one of its five 2005 Concert Music Award recipients. ASCAP further honored Oakland East Bay Symphony in 2006 with its Award for Adventurous Programming. The San Francisco Foundation has honored him with one of its Community Leadership Awards, and he received an Honorary Doctorate from Holy Names University.
Maestro Morgan makes many appearances in the nation’s schools each year, particularly in the East Bay, and is highly regarded as a champion of arts education and minority access to the arts. He serves on the Boards of Oaktown Jazz Workshops and Purple Silk Music Education Foundation.
About Joseph Johnson, cello
Joseph Johnson has been heard throughout the world as a soloist, chamber musician and educator. His festival appearances include performances in all classical genres at the American festivals of Santa Fe, Bach Dancing and Dynamite Society, Bard, Cactus Pear, Grand Teton, and Music in the Vineyards as well as the Pacific Music Festival in Sapporo, Japan, and the Virtuosi Festival in Brazil.
Highlights of Joseph Johnson’s 2015/2016 fall/winter season include three performances of the Brahms Double Concerto for Opening Week with the Toronto Symphony and a performance of the Dvorak Cello Concerto in San Francisco with the Bay Area Rainbow Symphony. Joseph will be making his Edmonton Symphony debut with a performance of the Brahms Double Concerto as well as Miguel del Aguila’s Concierto en Tango, a concerto of which Mr. Johnson performed the Canadian Premiere with the Toronto Symphony last June. He will also be heard in recital at the Chatter series in Albuquerque, a solo recital at the Free Concert Series at the Canadian Opera Company’s Richard Bradshaw Amphitheatre, as well as recitals throughout North America. Mr. Johnson recently celebrated the release of his album with pianist Victor Asuncion featuring the Rachmaninoff and Shostakovich Sonatas. He also completed a special recording project with the G. Schirmer Instrumental Library: The Cello Collection. Published in three volumes by Hal Leonard and featuring companion recordings by Mr. Johnson, this project presents cello literature appropriate for recitals and contests, and is available online and from major music retailers worldwide.
In March 2012 Joseph Johnson performed the North American premiere of the Cello Concerto Grosso by Peter Oetvos with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, a co-commission with the Berlin Philharmonic. He recently completed a U.S. tour with Victor Asuncion, performed Don Quixote with Sir Andrew Davis and the Toronto Symphony, as well as with Victor Yampolsky and the Northwestern University Symphony Orchestra, performed the Barber Cello Concerto with the Cincinnati Chamber Orchestra, and performed multiple concerts in the summer of 2015 at the Santa Fe Chamber Music Festival. Mr. Johnson is also a founding member of the newly created XIA Quartet. (xiaquartet.com)
Principal cellist of the Toronto Symphony Orchestra since the 2009/2010 season, Mr. Johnson previously held the same position with the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra. He also serves as principal cellist of the Santa Fe Opera, and during the 2008-2009 season, was acting principal cellist of the Honolulu Symphony Orchestra. Prior to his Milwaukee appointment, Joseph Johnson was a member of The Minnesota Orchestra cello section for eleven years, during which time he performed numerous chamber music works during the orchestra’s Sommerfest, both as cellist and pianist. He was a founding member of both the Prospect Park Players and the Minneapolis Quartet, the latter of which was honoured with The McKnight Foundation Award in 2005.
A gifted and inspiring teacher, Mr. Johnson has conducted master classes repeatedly at The New World Symphony, The Shepherd School of Music at Rice University, Eastman School of Music, Manhattan School of Music, Northwestern University, and the youth orchestras of the Milwaukee, Minneapolis, Chicago, and Toronto symphonies, as well as at The Glenn Gould School of The Royal Conservatory of Music in Toronto.
A graduate of the Eastman School of Music, Joseph Johnson earned his master’s degree from Northwestern University. Awards and honours include a performer’s certificate from the Eastman School of Music and first prize from the American String Teachers Association National Solo Competition.
Mr. Johnson performs on a magnificent Juan Guillami cello, crafted in 1747 in Barcelona.
About Joseph Stillwell, composer
Joseph Stillwell began composing at age 17. He currently resides in San Francisco where he is on the Music Theory and Musicianship faculty at the San Francisco Conservatory of Music. Joseph also maintains a busy schedule of private teaching and composing. In a review for the San Francisco Classical Voice, critic Janos Gereben described Joseph’s music as, “complex and yet instantly appealing, gorgeously tonal but not ‘old-fashioned.’” Joseph has composed works for a variety of genres, ranging from solo piano and art song to wind ensemble and orchestra. His compositions are notable for their attention to form, economy of material and expressive clarity.
While a student at the San Francisco Conservatory, Joseph was named winner of the 2010 James Highsmith Composition Competition for his orchestral tone poem Music for a Forgotten City. He also received second place in the Conservatory’s 2010 Choral Composition Competition, and third place in the 2009 Art Song Competition. Joseph’s String Quartet No. 1 was one of three finalists in the 2009 Lyrica Chamber Music Young Composers Competition. His orchestral work Jaunt was a winner of the 2008 Central Wisconsin Symphony Orchestra Fanfare Competition. His 2005 wind ensemble work Morning Hike was named as a finalist in the 2009 Frank Ticheli Composition Competition, and was also winner of the 2006 University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point Wind Ensemble Composition Competition. In the spring of 2008, Joseph’s Two Poems of Edgar Allan Poe and Triptych for Solo Piano were represented in the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point Online Journal (Vol. VI), a refereed publication of student achievement.
Joseph received his Masters in Music in 2010 from the San Francisco Conservatory of Music, where he studied composition with David Conte and theory with Scott Foglesong. In 2007, Joseph graduated magna cum laude from the University of Wisconsin—Stevens Point where he studied composition with Charles Rochester Young and piano with J. Michael Keller.
Joseph is a member of ASCAP and the American Composers Forum.