I entered the competition twice before winning. I was not quite ready (to win). The experience served as good preparation. I improved each time. One of the difficulties with the GFA competition is the (skill) level is so high. And, what sets the GFA competition apart from other competitions is the competitors are given a new piece only 6 weeks in advance of the competition. This new piece is to be learned and performed both in the preliminary round and the final round. So, the difference for me is the preparation work. I really spent a lot of time working on the set piece.
Speaking of your compositions, what was this inspiration? (when you were twelve) which prompted your outflow of pieces during this time?
I don’t remember what inspired me. It came to me very natural. I always like doing things in my own way and I often re arrange things in my head. Later, I took a more academic theoretical approach. I learned a lot (from this academic approach) but, I was also holding back my creative side. About 5 years ago, I found a balance between pure creativity and structure in my music.
In your works what elements of composition does your music focus? Can you describe your music’s style?
Let’s talk about my music from around 2006 when I wrote my piece for guitar and alto-flute “When The Winds Dissolve” which I, by the way, chose as my Op. 1 and leaving everything written prior behind. What is striking in this music is a strong eastern influence and the music is modal and the form is free with titles like “A Star in the Sky, A Universe Within…”. I, for the first time, felt that I could express myself freely. One can critique this style for not using harmony in any greater way, but it was very important for me to go to something simple where the expression and not the construction is in focus. However, with time I am, piece by piece, moving in various directions. My music is now more expressive in harmony and I am leaning more towards traditional forms.
Due to intense travel schedules I am now working on short preludes. I am planing to do one in each key, a total of 24. I am limiting myself to simple formal structures where harmony is very much in focus and moving from the central key to a few parallel keys but nothing too adventurous. It has been very stimulating and the music is quite beautiful.
Obviously, the GFA tour is a whirlwind of travel and performances. Have you experienced this level of touring before? Have you any interesting road stories you can share?
This will be the longest tour I have ever done. I have toured since I was quite young so I am not inexperienced in living life on the road. The hard thing is to find time to practice and stay in good shape. Perhaps the most extreme experience was playing a concert in Bhutan (Tibet) right after having hiked the Himalayas all day. I was really tired by my spirit was rejuvenated.
I have to ask, on your website pictures; Is that your dog?
Cassi lives with my father, but she is very much my dog as well!
Johannes’ Indianapolis GFA Tour Concert is presented here: