Months of practice had all come down to this. He played in front of some faculty before, but now it was official. Many semesters of preparation and decisions of what to play, or what to eliminate to keep time restraints, have led up to this moment. It was time.
Clayton Johnson, a senior studying music education, held his senior recital on Saturday, March 27. It was by invitation to attend in person but was available via live stream on the BYU-Idaho website.
Johnson began playing the viola when he was 11, but his music career started before that. He initially began with the piano when he was 6, but after a year he gave it up. He went back to the piano when he was 9 and has continued with music ever since.
He has learned other string instruments as he’s grown. He learned the violin when he was still in high school and started the cello and the string bass a couple of years ago.
“To be honest, I don’t actually remember why I chose the viola when I was in beginning orchestra,” Johnson shared in an email. “I knew that I didn’t want to play the violin like most people, and I didn’t want to carry a cello every day.”
The recital is the climax of many semesters of hard work. Most students with a music major have to take private lessons each semester, with a final performance in front of some faculty members, called a “jury,” each time. Johnson had to start preparing pieces for his final recital about four semesters ago.
A semester before the recital, he had to perform half his recital to his “jury.” A couple of weeks ago, he performed the whole recital before string faculty members, who then decided if he passed or not. Because he succeeded, he could perform the recital.
Johnson chose three pieces for his recital: the Brahms Viola Sonata no. 1 in F minor, the Prelude from Bach Suite II in D minor and the Forsyth Viola Concerto in G minor.
“When I started my studies here, I made a goal that I wanted to learn and perform an entire viola concerto for my recital, but I had a hard time deciding which one,” Johnson wrote. “Then, one day out of the blue I discovered the Forsyth Viola Concerto while surfing through YouTube. I had never heard of this concerto before, but once I heard it, I instantly fell in love.”
Johnson will be student teaching during fall semester and will be graduating in December. He plans to find a job in public schools teaching orchestra.