As a pianist since elementary school, Kyle Johnson has devoted most of his life to music. Born and raised in Lexington, Kentucky, he is now based in Madison, Wisconsin, where he is a DMA degree candidate and teaching assistant in piano performance at the University of Wisconsin. In May of 2012, Kyle graduated magna cum laude from Belmont University in Nashville, Tennessee, where he earned a Bachelor of Music degree in piano and was an active member of Alpha Chi and Pi Kappa Lambda honor societies. While earning a master’s degree in piano from the Longy Conservatory of Music in Cambridge, Massachusetts, Kyle held a performing assistantship with Longitude, Longy’s contemporary music ensemble and performed with the Boston New Music Initiative. As a pianist body double, his hands are featured in the movie Stoker, starring Nicole Kidman (score by Philip Glass, release date March 1, 2013). Currently, he is co-founder of Sound Out Loud, a Madison-based, interactive contemporary music ensemble.
During the summer of 2006, Kyle had the unique opportunity of traveling with the Kentucky Ambassadors of Music on their European tour. The next year, he was admitted into the Kentucky Governor’s School for the Arts. In both 2010 and 2011, Kyle was a participant in Tennessee’s MTNA Young Artist Piano Competition and was a finalist in the 2013 Princeton Festival Piano Competition in New Jersey. After winning the Belmont Classical Performer’s Competition in 2011, he was selected to attend the Brevard Music Institute, a seven-week music festival in Brevard, North Carolina. He has been a fellow at New England Conservatory’s Summer Institute for Contemporary Performance Practice (2013 & 2014), which involved performances and workshops at NEC and the Isabella Stuart Gardner Museum in Boston. Also in 2013, Kyle was selected as one of twelve pianist invited to attend the month-long Pianofest In The Hamptons in East Hampton, New York. In June 2016, Kyle performed the music of Olivier Messiaen at the Aldeburgh Festival in England (directed by internationally-acclaimed pianist Pierre Laurent Aimard). He received additional performance opportunities at the Chautauqua Music Festival (Chautauqua, NY) throughout the summer.
Not only has Kyle been an active performer, competitor, and collaborator, but his studies have led him to an interest in research-based projects. In both 2011 and 2012, he was chosen to be a part of the Belmont Undergraduate Research Symposium, which involved spending one semester researching, presenting, and publishing on a special topic within music history. His 2011 submission was entitled “The Age of Folk: Preservation of Regional Music in Hungary and the United States.” 2012: “The Musical Identity of Arvo Pärt and the Early Christian Church.” In addition, Kyle was a presenter at the 2011 Alpha Chi conference in Baltimore, Maryland, where he spoke about the lack of a common style within modern music. Current research interests include musical ecology (Messiaen), critical theory (Adorno), the music of George Crumb, and the piano sonatas of Galina Ustvolskaya (for which he authored the Wikipedia page). In both 2016 & 2017, he received Best Presentation Award at the College Music Society’s Great Lakes regional conference with “Contemporary Notoriety: An Exploration into George Crumb’s Early Success Through Recordings” (2016) and “Science/Art – Art/Science: Representations and Dichotomies within Messiaen’s Catalogue d’Oiseaux” (2017). He is currently on the program committee for the 2017 Midwest Graduate Music Consortium, a two-day conference hosted by graduate students from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University, and UW-Madison.
His teachers include Dr. Gregory Partain, Dr. Robert Marler, Dr. Hugh Hinton, and (currently) Christopher Taylor, with extra instruction from Paul Schenly, Peter Serkin, Pierre-Laurent Aimard, and Tamara Stefanovich. He has received masterclasses from Ursula Oppens, Emil Naoumoff, Lisa Moore, Yeol Eum Son, Chu-Fang Huang, Spencer Myer, Yehudi Wyner, Steve Drury, Joyce Yang, and Orion Weiss.
Kyle expects to graduate in May 2018 with a Doctor of Musical Arts in Piano Performance and doctoral minor in German. His dissertation involves the production of a podcast series of multidisciplinary perspectives around Messiaen, ornithology, ecology, and sound studies.