Professor of Music, Director
D.M.A. in Composition, Boston University
Composition studies with Lukas Foss and Steven Albert.
M.A. in Composition, Eastman School of Music
Composition studies with Joseph Schwantner and Samuel Adler.
Theoretical studies with Robert Morris.
B.M. in Composition, Ithaca College
Composition studies with Karel Husa and Dana Wilson.
Jeffrey Johnson joined the University as Director of the Music Program in 1998. Acclaimed by students for his high-energy teaching, Johnson was named Distinguished Teacher of the Year in 2002. Johnson earned his teaching stripes at the Boys Choir of Harlem, where he served as Associate Director of Artistic Education from 1994-1998.He earned a B.S. in Composition from Ithaca College, an M.A. from the Eastman School of Music, and a D.M.A. in Composition from Boston University. His teachers have included Pulitzer Prize winners including Karel Husa, Joseph Schwantner, and Stephen Albert.
Johnson is a published author and recognized expert in his field. His first two books drew upon set theory and graph theory from mathematics to develop compositional possibilities in music. His more recent scholarship, resulting in publication of two additional books, explores historical features of performance practice. Johnson reviews classic music for the Stamford Advocate and the Hartford Courant and serves on the Board of the Bridgeport Symphony.
- Professor of Music
- Director, Music Program (1998-Present)
- Director of First Year Seminar and Capstone Seminar
- Distinguished Teacher of the Year 2003
A Teaching Philosophy
Once, while I was at Eastman School of Music, some Tibetan monks visited and chanted for us in room 120, a sterile room intended for recording: clean and dry.
Room 120 was illuminated that day and transformed as it resounded with strange and rich sounds, and each individual singer mysteriously broke boundaries—each singing more than a single note at a time; simultaneous chords from a single voice—and these individual sounds joined in a choir that was a unique celebration for a windy and cloudy day in Rochester.
Afterwards, a friend of mine who was a cellist went up to one of the monks and said, “I have trained myself to produce multiple harmonics while chanting…listen…” and sure enough he could actually move through overtones that sounded very close to Tibetan chanting. The monk listened carefully to him and then replied, “That’s pretty good, but tell me… what does it mean to you?”
Good teaching brings us back to what music means to us.
For me, teaching and learning have always seemed interconnected. Like many musicians I began to teach early in life—and for a long while only knew how to teach older students! But, as Roger Grenier writes, “Music doesn’t begin to cast its magic until the moment we hear the language of our own past speaking within it.” This language requires us to remain aware of patterns and surprises, of inspiration and the irrational twists through which music communicates. Teaching is invigorating, and teaching, learning, transmission and discovery so very connected in developing the total human being we strive to become; a confident, dynamic person capable of succeeding anywhere, perhaps even in Tibetan chanting.
Jeffrey Johnson, Director