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Overview


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Overview


The Sonata suggests a haunted poem, and Johanson communicated its rare imagery in an intense, virtuosic performance.

-Tim Smith, The Baltimore Sun

 

b.1989

Seattle, WA

 

Currently resides in:

Baltimore, MD

 

Degrees

Bachelor of Music from The Robert McDuffie Center for Strings at Mercer University

Master of Music from The Peabody Conservatory of The Johns Hopkins University

 
 

 

Cellist Lavena Johanson is a commanding performer and a consummate musician. As a soloist and chamber musician, she has performed new and recent works by Bryce Dessner, Ted Hearne, Amy Beth Kirsten, Jessie Montgomery, Gemma Peacocke, Caroline Shaw, Anna Thorvaldsdottir, and Julia Wolfe on Baltimore’s Evolution Contemporary Music Series. Lavena has also premiered and recorded two pieces written expressly for her by her husband, Judah Adashi including The Beauty of the Protest, a piece for singing cellist. Not one to shy away from a challenge, she is only the second cellist to ever perform both of Michael Hersch’s Sonatas for Unaccompanied Cello in one night (a truly exhausting and rewarding achievement), which was reviewed favorably by Tim Smith of The Baltimore Sun: “The Sonata suggests a haunted poem, and Johanson communicated its rare imagery in an intense, virtuosic performance.” In May 2018, Lavena was involved in the premiere of Julia Wolfe’s Spinning as part of a trio of three cellists, including Melody Giron and Maya Beiser, on the Peak Performances series at Montclair State University. Her first love has always been chamber music - specifically string quartets - and her proudest achievement in that realm came from reaching the semi-finals round of the 2014 Fischoff Competition with the Atlas String Quartet. Outside of the classical music world, Lavena toured as a cellist with the indie rock band Ra Ra Riot, playing to sold-out crowds at the 9:30 Club (Washington, DC), The House of Blues (Cleveland, OH), and Lincoln Hall (Chicago, IL). She recently performed Bach’s Third Suite for Unaccompanied Cello at the Baltimore Bach Marathon in March 2019, fulfilling the third year of her six-year Bach Suites performance project.

News


"Cellist Lavena Johanson gives herself completely and effortlessly to Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto. Her Left Hand slides all the way down the strings with an ease and bravado any metal head could envy. she tosses her half-shaven head back with a smile, basking in the full backing of the orchestra, her joy, confidence, and thoroughly absorbing presence perfectly capturing the transformation and pride that come from surviving the horror, uncertainty, and grief brought on by large scale conflict." --- The occasional symphony Newsletter (2016)

News


"Cellist Lavena Johanson gives herself completely and effortlessly to Edward Elgar's Cello Concerto. Her Left Hand slides all the way down the strings with an ease and bravado any metal head could envy. she tosses her half-shaven head back with a smile, basking in the full backing of the orchestra, her joy, confidence, and thoroughly absorbing presence perfectly capturing the transformation and pride that come from surviving the horror, uncertainty, and grief brought on by large scale conflict." --- The occasional symphony Newsletter (2016)

News

 

upcoming:

 MARCH:

Performed Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No. 3 by J.S. Bach at the annual Baltimore Bach Marathon, hosted by Douglas Buchanan at St. David's Episcopal Church.

 

past:

2018

 

MAy:

Performed in the World Premiere of Spinning by Julia Wolfe with Maya Beiser and Melody Giron on Montclair State University's Peak Performances series. From the National Sawdust Log review of the event: “Beiser…was framed and deftly supported by cellists Lavena Johanson and Melody Giron, who rounded out the trio of women commanding the stage.”

 

MARCH:

Performed Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No. 2 by J.S. Bach at the annual Baltimore Bach Marathon, hosted by Douglas Buchanan at St. David's Episcopal Church.

 

2017

 
 

2016

april:

Had the privilege of being part of an important event presented by Judah Adashi called #RiseBmore2017 - an event for Baltimore and of Baltimore, held on the anniversary of Freddie Gray's death. On the same day, Judah and I released The Beauty of the Protest - 50% of the proceeds go to BmoreLeadFree. I wrote on my JOURNAL page about why this piece means so much to me, if you would like to know more.

march:

Performed Suite for Unaccompanied Cello No. 1 by J.S. Bach at the annual Baltimore Bach Marathon, hosted by Douglas Buchanan at St. David's Episcopal Church.

 

November:

Became the second cellist to ever perform both of Michael Hersch's Solo Cello Sonatas in one evening. From the Baltimore Sun review of the event: “The sonata suggests a haunted poem, and Johanson communicated its rare imagery in an intense, virtuosic performance.”

October:

Together, with her husband, performed at TedX MidAtlantic.

September:

Played with Ra Ra Riot while they opened for Young The Giant's Home of the Strange Tour.

APRIL:

Premiered Judah Adashi's The Beauty of the Protest for singing cellist at #RiseBmore2016. From the Baltimore Sun review of the event: "Johanson performed the piece admirably." 

March - april:

Played with Ra Ra Riot on their Need Your Light Tour.

 

2015

 
 

2014

October:

Performed the Elgar Cello Concerto with the Saratoga Symphony Orchestra in Whidbey Island, WA.

 

September:

Released my heart comes undone for cello and looping pedal by Judah Adashi.

 

May:

Made it to the Semi-Finals of The Fischoff Chamber Music Competition with The Atlas String Quartet.

 

2013

February:

Performed Don Quixote by Richard Strauss with the Peabody Symphony Orchestra.

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Current Projects


Current Projects


Current Projects

 

Bach Cello suites No. 4, 5, & 6

 

12 Months of practicing

 

evolution album

This is a space for those who are interested in knowing what I am up to outside of the normal performing circuit. I have long term goals, passions, and interests that don't always have hard dates attached to them, but I still think they are worth sharing. Check out my journal to see more writings/thoughts about these projects and how they are progressing.

 

 

Photo credits: Faith Layla bocian (bio page photo), alexa frankovitch (ra ra riot show photos), Britt Olsen-ecker (headshots) and wasin Prasertlap (Quartet photos)