Violinist Mary Grace Johnson has received national accolades as both a soloist and chamber musician. A passionate performer, she has captivated audiences in diverse venues from Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall to Belly Up in Aspen, Colorado. Originally from Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and the sixth of nine children in a musical family, she has been surrounded by music all her life
Mary Grace made her symphony debut at age 17 with the Nashville Symphony as Grand Prize winner of the CURB Records concerto competition. She has also soloed with the Vanderbilt Symphony Orchestra and the Curb Youth Symphony, and received first prize in the Nashville Symphony Thor Johnson Scholarship competition. Recently, she won first prize at the national level of the Music Teacher’s National Association Young Artist String competition in Baltimore, Maryland after winning the division and state competitions.
A passionate chamber musician, Mary Grace was a founding member of the Aurelius String Quartet, the 2016 fellowship quartet in residence at the Wintergreen Chamber Music Festival. As part of their fellowship, the quartet toured Virginia and presented a full program to diverse audiences across the state. Invited to the quarterfinals of the Fischoff Chamber Music Competition, they received 2ndprize at the 2016 National MTNA Chamber Music Competition in San Antonio, Texas. Mary Grace has received chamber music instruction from members of the American, Blair, and Pacifica quartets, as well as past and present members of the Juilliard String Quartet, and recently participated in the Juilliard Quartet Seminar.
During her summers, Mary Grace has attended numerous music festivals, including the Kneisel Hall Chamber Music Festival and the Aspen Music Festival, and has held principal orchestra positions at Colorado College Summer Music Festival and the Eastern Music Festival. In addition to her leadership roles at these festivals, she has also served as concertmaster of the Vanderbilt University Orchestra and the Curb Youth Symphony and recently served as concertmaster of the Juilliard Orchestra under conductors Sir Mark Elder and Yannick Nézet-Séguin. An experienced professional orchestral musician, she has frequently subbed with Nashville Symphony, Gateway Chamber Orchestra, and Bryan Symphony, in addition to her session work in Nashville recording studios.
Mary Grace believes an important part of being an artist is training the next generation of arts appreciators. In addition to maintaining a private teaching studio, she coached chamber music groups in Vanderbilt’s pre-college music program for two years, and helped lead a chamber music studio class with faculty in the pre-college division. While at Kneisel Hall, she taught in the Maine Students Program, coaching and playing in chamber music groups with students from ages 8-17, as well as teaching ear training. A fervent believer in bringing the joy of music to those who would otherwise not have access, Mary Grace volunteered at the W.O. Smith Community Music School in Nashville for 3 years and was a Juilliard Morse Fellow, teaching an after-school strings program at the City College Academy of the Arts in Manhattan as part of her fellowship.
Mary Grace received her undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt’s Blair School of Music, where she studied with Cornelia Heard. In her junior year, she was selected to represent the Blair School as part of an exchange program at the Royal Academy of Music in London. The same year, she was chosen to perform at Vanderbilt’s commencement, where she premiered a commissioned work by composer Jack Coen in front of an audience of over 20,000 people. She received numerous accolades while at Blair, including the Jean Keller Heard Prize for Excellence in String Performance and the Christian Teal Award for collaboration.She was inducted into Pi Kappa Lambda, the National Music Honor Society, and received the Founder’s Medal for the Blair School of Music, the highest honor in her graduating class.
Mary Grace received her Master of Music degree from the Juilliard School, studying with Laurie Smukler. She has had the honor of playing in masterclasses for several leading musicians including Glenn Dicterow, Augustin Hadelich, Ani Kavafian, Robert McDuffie, and Almita and Roland Vamos. In addition to the violin, Mary Grace has studied the viola and baroque violin. She is currently pursuing her Doctor of Musical Arts degree with Paul Kantor at Rice University’s Shepherd School of Music.
Send a message to Mary Grace