Chicago Philharmonic Principal Piccolo Alyce Johnson


Alyce JohnsonQ. What inspired you to pursue music as a career?

A. I come from a musical family, so listening to Classical music was a normal part of life when I was younger. A turning point which made me realize that I wanted to pursue music as a career was having the opportunity to play in an orchestra and recreate some of the same pieces that I had grown up hearing. I played flute in the Greater Boston Youth Symphony and was thrilled to have the chance to perform Beethoven and Brahms Symphonies in concert halls around the world. Once I had a been a part of making music in that way, I knew I wanted to pursue it as a career. The teachers I have had, and other musicians I’ve worked with along the way, have all helped me to attain my goal of becoming a performer.

Q. What do you like most about the CPO’s ensemble approach to creating music?
A. The Chicago Philharmonic has given me the opportunity to play some amazing symphonic repertoire under talented conductors. As a piccolo player, the highlights for me have been performing Shostakovitch 5 and Beethoven 9 — both conducted by Larry Rachleff. Working on these pieces in the Chicago Philharmonic helped me grow as a musician and brought my understanding of them to a higher level. Other musicians in the CPO are an inspiration to me as well; many of my colleagues in the Chicago Lyric Opera also play in the CPO.

Q. What new endeavors would you like to see the CPO pursue in the future?
A. Two years ago I began teaching at the Merit School of Music and have enjoyed working with young people who are excited to study music. Although it is extremely difficult to win a job as a performing musician, I believe that someone who has a strong desire to go into music should follow their dreams. Having gone through many rigorous auditions I feel that the best way to improve is to become your own strongest critic. It is important to always strive to grow as a musician no matter what point you are at in your career.

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