In October 2017 Carter Johnson attended the Vancouver Island Symphony’s season opener to watch his UBC piano professor Corey Hamm play the solo in Prokofiev’s Third Piano Concerto.
At the post-show reception, Johnson, who originally hails from Campbell River and spent some time in Nanaimo before moving to Vancouver to pursue his piano training, sought out VIS conductor Pierre Simard to ask how he could one day perform as a soloist with the ensemble.
“I was kind of bold about it, I’m not usually like this,” Johnson said. “I’m like, ‘Hi, I’m a pianist, how can I play with you?’”
Johnson ended up submitting information about himself as well as the concertos he can play and the symphony soon got back to him with the time and date of the performance as well as the piece he will perform: Schumann’s Piano Concerto in A minor, one of Johnson’s favourites.
“Whenever people ask me why it’s a good piece, or why you like this piece, I just want to be like, ‘Just go listen to it,’” he said. “I don’t really know what to say. It’s really beautiful.”
He’ll be playing the composition at the VIS’ upcoming concert, Inspiration: Schumann and Mozart, at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 16. It’s Johnson’s first time playing with the group.
He said the Schumann piece was the first non-classical concerto he learned and it has always stuck with him. He said it’s not as flashy or “soloistic” as other concertos.
“It’s in co-operation with the orchestra as opposed to piano’s the foreground, orchestra’s the background. There’s more of an equality between the piano and the orchestra,” Johnson explained. “Sometimes what I play is not that important and it kind of melts into what they’re doing, and then sometimes what I play is of course the most important and it kind of goes between those things rather seamlessly.”
Johnson said just wants to show the audience the beauty of the piece.
“I don’t want it to be about me or the conductor or anything else,” he said. “I just want them to be like, ‘What a piece, what a composer, that was beautiful.”
WHAT’S ON … The Vancouver Island Symphony presents Inspiration: Schumann and Mozart at the Port Theatre on Saturday, Feb. 16 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets range from $33 to $54, $18 for students.