Lura Johnson, Piano
Steinway Artist Lura Johnson is celebrated by critics and audiences for her insightful, emotionally impactful performances. The Washington Post describes hearing her play as “one of life’s great pleasures.” The Baltimore Sun praises her “surging expressive force… impressive bravura…” and “exceptional vitality, color, and impact.” Performing more than one hundred concerts annually as a soloist, chamber musician, and orchestral pianist, Lura captures, distills, and powerfully communicates the spirit and personality of the music she performs. She describes her mission this way: “My goal is to vividly and thoroughly bring to life the essence and true character of the music, the way an actor embodies a role with full commitment.” Lura is Resident Pianist of the Baltimore Symphony and Principal Pianist of the Delaware Symphony, positions which synthesize her finely honed ensemble skills, soloistic virtuosity, and versatility. She has played principal keyboard for seven albums recorded by the Baltimore Symphony, including Bernstein’s Mass, which received a Grammy nomination in 2010. The Washington Classical Review wrote of a BSO performance of Bernstein’s Age of Anxiety, “[Soloist] Jean-Yves Thibaudet was shadowed brilliantly by the BSO’s outstanding keyboard player, Lura Johnson, on the daunting celesta part.” This collaboration was immortalized in a 2017 album released by the BSO on the Naxos label, and was also part of the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s tour of the United Kingdom in 2018, with performances and telecasts at the renowned BBC Proms and the prestigious Edinburgh Festival in Scotland. Lura has been featured as a soloist with the Baltimore and Delaware Symphonies, performing Rachmaninoff’s First Piano Concerto, Grieg Concerto, Mozart’s K. 466, Gershwin’s Rhapsody in Blue, and Saint-Saens Wedding Cake Waltz. She is one of few keyboardists with the versatility to perform the complete Bach Brandenburg Concerti, moving seamlessly from the continuo harpsichord role in Concertos No.1 through 4 and No. 6 to the solo role in the magnificent Concerto No. 5. Similarly, in the Baltimore Symphony Orchestra’s 2020 production of Amadeus Live, Lura navigated the solo role in several Mozart Concerti, as well as performing the supporting role of organ continuo, eliciting the praise “meticulous and brilliant” from the Montgomery County Sentinel. Esteemed for her uncommon sensitivity and skill as a chamber music partner, Lura moves flexibly inside an ensemble as leader or supporter, as needed. She has enjoyed success both on the concert stage and in commercial recordings as a member of several chamber ensembles. Duo Baltinati with cellist Ilya Finkelshteyn won Second Prize in the chamber music division of the International Johannes Brahms Competition in 2015. Chamber music has always been Lura’s true north. “The sensing, the risk-taking, the spontaneous creation in the moment,” she says, “sharing these human experiences through music, not words, is electrifying.” One of her chamber music albums, Inner Voice with violist Peter Minkler, received widespread attention when it was prominently featured in the official trailer for the 2013 Warner Brothers film, Gravity. The mesmerizing state of suspension the two created in their rendition of Arvo Pärt’s Spiegel im Spiegel complemented perfectly the cinematic tale of literal weightlessness set in outer space.