Michael Johanson

Professor of Music, Director of Composition and Music Theory

Evans Music Center 12, MSC: 18

Michael Johanson’s music reflects a deep interest in bringing together materials drawn from a wide range of styles and approaches, all filtered through a distinctly personal voice. His work is informed by an abiding interest in timbral and coloristic possibilities, a wide-ranging harmonic palette, an interest in extended instrumental techniques, and the occasional integration of elements found in jazz. His compositions have been performed at numerous concerts and festivals throughout the United States and abroad by distinguished soloists and ensembles.

Mr. Johanson has received awards and/or fellowships from institutions such as the American Music Center, ASCAP, Wildacres Residency, the MacDowell Colony, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and Palazzo Rinaldi (Noepoli, Italy). He is the 2016 recipient of the Oregon Music Teachers Association Composer of the Year Award, and is one of just two recipients selected for an Honorable Mention in the 2016 Music Teachers National Association Distinguished Composer of the Year Award. Johanson is the 2009 winner of the Gil Seeley Prize in Composition, an award given by the Oregon Repertory Singers for his composition “Earth Dweller.”

Venues at which performances of Mr. Johanson’s music have taken place include the Ann Goodman Recital Hall in New York City; St. John’s Smith Square in London, England; the Shenyang Conservatory of Music in China; the Thai National Theater Recital Hall in Bangkok; the Nanyang Academy of Fine Arts (Singapore); the International Beethoven Festival (Chicago); the Sydney Conservatorium of Music (Australia, July 2017); the James Madison University Contemporary Music Festival; June in Buffalo; Society of Composers Incorporated; the Williams College Chamber Players; “A Celebration of New Music” at Texas Tech University; the Great Western Horn Symposium in Las Vegas; Western Washington University; and the Indiana State University Contemporary Music Festival.

Johanson’s music has been performed by numerous ensembles of distinction, including Fear No Music; Third Angle; Resonance Ensemble; Portland Piano International; VIR Men’s Ensemble; the Lewis & Clark College Orchestra; and the Cascadia Composers concert series. Ensembles and institutions that have commissioned his works include the International Beethoven Project, Trio Bella Voce, the Northwest Horn Orchestra, Post-Haste Duo, Portland Percussion Group, the Indiana University New Music Ensemble, the American Friends Service Committee, the Oregon Repertory Singers, the Portland Chamber Orchestra, and the March Music Moderne festival. 

Distinguished performers who have played and/or commissioned Mr. Johanson’s music include saxophonist Frederick Hemke, violinist Kia-Hui Tan, pianist Peter Henderson, saxophonist Iwan Roth, hornist Leander Star, pianist James Giles, clarinetist Kevin Schempf, hornist Brian Kilp, saxophonist Sean Fredenburg, bassoonist Javier Rodriguez; violinist Inés Voglar, violist Joël Belgique, clarinetist Dunja Marcum, pianist Susan Smith, trombonist Garth Simmons, and many others.

Johanson’s work “Memento” was recorded by internationally recognized saxophonist Frederick Hemke on his CD “Simple Gifts.” Johanson’s “Dynamo” is featured on trombonist Garth Simmons’ “American Visions” CD. Johanson was the 2012 Composer-in-Residence at the Jubilus Music Festival in Gainesville, Florida. His composition “Gravitations” was featured in the July 2012 International Arts Educators Forum in Citta di Castello, Italy. Mr. Johanson’s music is published by September Hills, Honeyrock Publishing, and Dorn Publications.

Formerly on the faculties of Indiana State University, Williams College, and Stetson University, he is currently Professor of Composition and Music Theory at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, Oregon. He serves as Artistic Director of Friends of Rain, Lewis & Clark’s faculty contemporary music ensemble.

Academic Credentials

DM 2004, MM 1994 Indiana University, BM 1991, 1990 Eastman School of Music


Mr. Johanson teaches courses in Composition, Contemporary Music Theory and Aural Skills, Counterpoint, and Orchestration.