Biography of Johnson Kirsten:
Building on the success of Këngë: Albanian Piano Music (Guild 7257), Kirsten Johnson has compiled a second album of pieces titled Rapsodi: Albanian Piano Music, Volume 2. On the release of Këngë, critics marvelled at the charm of this unknown repertoire: ‘Johnson plays with nuance and color; the recording is rich and resonant.’ (American Record Guide, 1 March 2004) ‘Kirsten Johnson expounds all this repertoire with manifest sympathy and skill. An unexpected delight.’ (BBC Music Magazine, 1 June 2003)
Kirsten’s interest in Albanian piano music originates from a visit to Albania in June 1993, shortly after communism had fallen and Albania was opened to the outside world. She stayed with the composer Llazar Morcka (b. 1923) and his family in Tirana, and was given tours of the Jordan Misja School of Music as well as the Music Faculty at the Academy of Arts. She performed, gave a masterclass and met many other composers, pianists and musicians. Following this visit, Kirsten Johnson decided to make Albanian piano music the subject of the dissertation for her Doctor of Musical Arts, received from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1997. A Survey of Albanian Piano Literature is published through UMI of Ann Arbour, Michigan. In her study of Albanian piano music, Kirsten Johnson has interviewed Kozma Lara, Ramadan Sokoli, Çesk Zadeja, Feim Ibrahimi and Alberto Paparisto and has performed this repertoire in recitals across the United States, the United Kingdom and Albania. The release of Këngë: Albanian Piano Music was followed in 2003 by Kirsten’s fourth tour of Albania, with her concert in Tirana a gala event broadcast on national television.
In 2005 Kirsten released two CDs of nineteenth-century piano pieces: Heinrich Schulz-Beuthen - Piano Music (GMCD 7277) and Hermann Götz - Heinrich Schulz-Beuthen - Piano Music (GMCD 7282). ‘The American-born pianist Kirsten Johnson dispatches the music with a flamboyance and panache that betrays her young age but certainly not her precocious talent, and she definitely succeeds in capturing all the nuances of the score with disarming ease.’ (Classical Net, 3 November 2005) ‘Kirsten Johnson advocates this little-known repertoire and does it with panache and aplomb.’ (Minnesota Public Radio, 26 May 2005) Kirsten Johnson was born in Virginia, USA, but now resides in Oxford, England. As a concert performer she has wide-ranging musical interests and a large repertoire of pieces from the pre-Baroque to the present, from countries around the world. After receiving her Master of Music degree in piano performance from the University of North Texas under a Teaching Fellowship in Piano, Kirsten studied in Vienna at the Hochschule für Musik under a Rotary International Foundation Scholarship. She completed her DMA under Richard Cass at UMKC, having been awarded a Kemper Doctoral Fellowship. Kirsten built her repertoire and explored the music of Alkan in her post-doctoral studies in England with Ronald Smith, FRAM.