Carl Johansen, Viola – Musician Highlight

Carl Johansen, viola for the Utah Symphony

Stoked to introduce to you one of the members of our viola section, Carl Johansen.

What concerto did you audition with?
They didn’t require a concerto when I auditioned. I usually took auditions with the Bartok concerto, and won 5 other auditions with that one (Barcelona in NY, Barcelona in Barcelona, Barcelona principal, St. Louis, Rochester). In the audition for the Utah Symphony I had to play a movement of Bach, and I chose the prelude to the 2nd suite for cello.

What is your favorite restaurant in SLC?
I really enjoy the cebiche at “Del Mar al Lago” across from RC Willey’s. It is a place which specializes in cebiche, and since my wife is Peruvian I have had many chances to eat cebiche, prepared by her mom, at restaurants in Peru, and at this restaurant. It’s fish or seafood sort of cooked, or soaked anyway, in key lime juice. A bit spicy, but delicious.

How many years have you been playing your instrument?
Well, I started piano at 6, violin at 9, and viola as a second instrument since high school, but more seriously as I was finishing my master’s degree in violin. I’m 50 now, so it has been a while!

What is your favorite quote?
“Nothing in the world can take the place of Persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.”

This quote is on my wall. It was an inspiration during the time I was in Barcelona, flying to the US to take auditions and failing at them. Finally, of course, I had better luck.

What orchestral piece do you love to play?
Well, I enjoy big romantic works, Bruckner, Mahler, Tchaikovsky, Rachmaninoff, Strauss, and things of that nature. They are fun, and a challenge. I also enjoy Mozart, which is particularly tricky to get right, and I enjoy that when we have a good, demanding conductor in front of us.

What advice do you have for young musicians?
Record yourself! If you are practicing by playing over something, then you may make progress, but if you record yourself you can analyze objectively the problems and find solutions. I would use video recording to be able to see what you’re doing, as well as hear it. I think it’s like a painter who needs to step away from the canvas to be able to get the idea of what needs to be done. While we’re playing we’re close to the canvas, but when we sit down and listen to ourselves it is much easier to see what you have to work on. Every practice session just record a bit, work on it, record it again, see what works.

What is an unusual item on your bucket list?
Well, certainly there are some interesting cross country flights I would like to do. I have wanted to fly from Grandeur to the Point of the Mountain for a few years and have somehow managed to miss the chance. I hope this summer I can change that, and make it all the way. I’ve done Grandeur to the Draper Temple, and Big Cottonwood to the Point, so it is just a matter of launching early enough and having good luck with the thermals.

There are pieces which I would very much enjoy playing again. Bruckner 8. I would like to do Bruckner 7. I missed it last time we did it. Mahler 8, my one remaining Mahler symphony, though I would like to repeat 3 and 6 a few more times. I can’t get enough of Mahler 2, and would love to do that some more. As much as I love Rachmaninoff 2nd symphony, I would enjoy getting to know 1 and 3 better, if only to know why we always play #2!  I would like to play some more recitals and chamber music to develop as a musician. I have done a concert or concerts with friends most years since I got the job here, getting through repertoire that I have wanted to work on, or sometimes rework, Schubert, Brahms sonatas, etc…. I’m working on the Shostakovitch sonata right now, along with short pieces. I enjoy working on short romantic pieces as a way of developing my sound, and I want to play more concerts at nursing homes, when we can figure it out with our schedule.

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