Mikhail Johnson, composer and multi-talented performer on piano, viola, flute, recorder, and saxophone, is regarded as one Jamaica's most promising young musicians. He is a winner of several competitions and was the first piano soloist with the Jamaica Symphony Orchestra.
Mikhail was born and raised in Montego Bay, in the Parish of St. James, Jamaica. He started piano lessons in second grade at Unity Preparatory School but quickly found he had a natural ear for playing and with less than one year of tutelage, began practicing on his own and playing for churches. He started study on the recorder at age ten and with his ability on that instrument and the piano quickly became a key student musician at the Howard Cooke Primary School.
At age thirteen, Mikhail entered Herbert Morrison Technical High School and began playing alto saxophone in the school band. He continued on that instrument for all five years there and near the end also learned to play the flute. In 2005, he entered the Jamaica Cultural Development Festival of the Performing Arts with the high school band and received individual gold medals in both piano and recorder. He then competed on recorder in the national finals, where he was specially awarded for the second highest score.
Following high school, he enrolled at Northern Caribbean University to pursue a major in biological science and a minor in music. He has studied the traditional classical piano repertoire with Kimberly Cann, Marilyn Anderson, and Edison Valencia along with private tutoring with world-renowned Jamaican pianist Orret Rhoden.
While at NCU, he also played viola in the Jamaica Symphony Orchestra. He joined with Joel George, principal bassist of the orchestra and also a pianist, to form the George Johnson Duo. They debuted in October 2009 and performed again in July 2011, both times to critical acclaim.
In 2009, at age nineteen, Johnson placed first in the senior piano division of the JSO competition in June and soloed with the orchestra at their pre-launch concert series. In November of that same year, he also was winner of the piano section of the Jamaica Music Teachers Association Music Festival in Kingston.
An active composer, Johnson has received numerous commissions, one of which was a patriotic work, Anthem of Independence, for mixed choir and orchestra that premiered in 2008, sung by the NCU Chamber Choir in Kingston. He recently completed Collection of Choral Benedictions, Volume I, and is currently composing an Oratorio of the Psalms for choir, soloists, and orchestra that when completed will include musical settings for most if not all of the 150 psalms. Psalm 23 premiered in June 2010, performed by the Jamaica Choral Scholars Festival Choir.
Sources: Information provided by Mikhail Johnson; Other Online Sources.