Have you ever wondered what it would be like to share the stage with a featured performer? The Strand Theatre invites you to join us for a series of three concerts presented “in the round”. For these performances, both the audience and the performers will share the stage, creating a more intimate setting between the two. Concertgoers will be seated onstage facing the house while enjoying complimentary wine and cheese along with fantastic entertainment from a unique perspective.
Our first featured performer is Curtis Johnson.
Curtis Johnson, retired Associate Professor of Music at West Virginia University (WVU), served on the WVU faculty for more than twenty years. He received his Master of Music in Saxophone Performance from West Virginia University and his Bachelor of Music from West Liberty University. Johnson has served as an adjunct faculty member at West Virginia University, West Virginia Wesleyan College, Slippery Rock University and Carnegie Mellon University. He hasbeen named a semi-finalist for the Grammy Music Educator Award multiple times.
Classically, Johnson has performed on numerous North American Saxophone Alliance conference programs, World Saxophone Congress programs and International Saxophone Symposium programs. He also has performed as soloist with the West Virginia Symphony
Orchestra, Wheeling Symphony Orchestra and Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra.
Johnson is also a renowned R&B and jazz performer. He has backed such performers as Christian McBride, Jeff "Tain" Watts, Benny Golson, Ahmad Jamal, Ray Charles, Little Anthony, Aretha Franklin, The Temptations, Chubby Checker, Chuck Berry, Isaac Hayes, Lou
Rawls, The Spinners, Dionne Warwick, Martha Reeves, Cheryl Lynn and Landau Eugene Murphy Jr. Johnson performs as a freelance performer and has completed many successful tours of Europein a span of over thirty years. Since 2008, he has performed at several international jazz festivals in Russia. In addition, Johnson performs with the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra under the direction of world-renowned trumpeter Sean Jones.
As active as he has been in his performance career, Johnson has never left the classroom. Jazz education continues to be his forte. He began his career as Director of Jazz Studies at West
Virginia University, taking several large ensembles and small groups to regional conferences and providing them with national performance opportunities. He has conducted numerous all-star high school and college bands, including the 1996 Maryland All-State Jazz Ensemble, and he has served as Artistic Director for the Krakow (Poland) School for Jazz and Contemporary Music's International Summer Jazz Academy. Johnson is featured in the book Legendary Locals of
Wheeling as an artist and is an expert on the career of Leon "Chu" Berry. The PBS special They Died Before 40 features Johnson speaking about "Chu" Berry.
Creative Music Solutions, an organization run by Johnson since 2001, has sponsored numerous tours to Europe with various performing groups. The organization began sponsoring high school, college and professional music group tours to Europe in summer 2005.
Johnson is an Artist/Clinician for Yamaha Corporation of America.