LVJ was the first guitarist to graduate from the Idaho State University School of Fine Arts Music Department. He later became a faculty member and founded the study of Classical Guitar as a standard curriculum at the University in Pocatello, Idaho.
Blackfoot High School, Blackfoot, Idaho.
Idaho State University, Bachelor of Arts Journalism.
Idaho State University, Bachelor of Music Guitar Performance.
San Francisco State University, Master of Arts Guitar Performance, Honors Graduate.
In the following years, while continuing in music, LVJ founded a company and began a career as an Insurance Executive for over 20 years. This business activity earned him the title from fellow musicians as “The Charles Ives of the Guitar” while composing, concertizing, and continually slaying dragons to feed to the hungry bulldog that eats money, creates bills and raises financial overhead for all of us every month.....
A Vietnam Veteran of the U.S. Army 101st Airborne Division, LVJ served in the 502nd Infantry (Rifleman) and the 321st Artillery Battalion, 105 mm Howitzers receiving an Honorable Discharge.
LVJ and Conductor Kent Nagano were honored together by San Francisco State University as “Distinguished Alumni.”
MASTER CLASS STUDIES
Narciso Yepes – San Francisco State University.
Christopher Parkening – The Sun Valley, Idaho Center for the Arts.
Able Carlevaro – San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Julian Bream – San Francisco Conservatory of Music.
Alirio Diaz – The Banff School of Fine Arts, Alberta, Canada.
San Francisco State University
Seattle Space Needle Concerts
Idaho State University Program Board
Old First Center for the Arts — San Francisco
Boise State University
Village Early Music Society
University of San Francisco Concerts
Tahoe Historical Society
California Cultural Center — San Francisco
Hospice of the Foothills
Sierra Musical Arts Association
Music in the Mountains
Nevada County Historical Society
Nevada County Artist’s Guild
California Litman Series
South Lake Tahoe Community College
Twin Cities Concert Association
Classical Guitar Society of Portland
San Francisco Classical Guitar Society
Julia Davis Gallery Concerts — Boise
San Luis, Argentina
Guitar Extravaganza Concerts
City College of San Francisco
Tahoe Preservation Society
St. Joseph’s Cultural Center Concerts
KVMR – FM Featured Artist Series
Humboldt State University Concert Series
Borders, Books & Music Artists Series
San Francisco Conservatory of Music
Old Town Eureka Concert Series
Quito — Ecuador — Exchange Series
Evergreen College — Olympia, WA
Sons of Norway — San Diego — Minneapolis
Monterey Bay Aquarium
Sacramento State University
Banff School of Fine Arts — Canada
Orchestre Panache — Chamber Orchestra
Sacramento Guitar Society
Buenos Aires, Argentina
Nevada County Composer's Cooperative
Bach's Lunch Concert Series
Sierra Nevada Guitar Festival
Guitar Foundation of America San Francisco
Manitou Springs Colorado
Chamber Music Festival
THE AMERICAN RECORD GUIDE
" Guitarist Louis Valentine Johnson ...has a number of recordings with original work and arrangements for solo guitar. This recording with the Dos Almas String Quartet is my favorite of them all, with some of his best playing. In 'Toccata, Evocation, & Fandango' by Mark A. Radice, a music professor at Ithaca College, Johnson's guitar has an excellent recorded sound and is well-balanced with the quartet. In the opening movement, Radice's writing demands much of the instrument and a challenging degree of ensemble playing. 'Fandango' often includes the guitar as an active leader in the music and brings the piece to a strong conclusion....The high point of this recording is Johnson's 'Peace Concerto,' written originally as a solo work in tribute to his late son, and arranged here for the ensemble by Cullan Bryant. Johnson's playing is full of feeling, and this is the best I have heard him play on any of his recordings. The ensemble builds to a strong, passionate ending to this deeply felt piece..Its strength lies in the down-to-earth emotional connection that the players have to the meaning of the music.
A CLASSICAL MODERN MUSIC REVIEW:
“PEACE” Guitar & String Quartet CD
Grego Applegate Edwards
New Consonances for Guitar & String Quartet.
Classical guitarist Louis Valentine Johnson teams up with the Dos Almas String Quartet for Peace (Dos Almas DA 2019), a collection of some timeless music mostly contemporary yet in the tradition of the Spanish guitar legacy. Three works get idiomatic, warm treatment--"The Peace Concerto" by Johnson himself, "Toccata, Evocation, & Fandango" by Mark A. Radice (arranged by Philip Rothman) and "Allegretto in B Minor, Opus 35, Number 22" by Fernando Sor (arranged by Johnson).The program opener "Toccata, Evocation & Fandango" by Mark A Radice has a complementary Spanish-Neo-Classical meditative air to it that the Fandango conclusion stirs up with a spirit that paints the guitar in the center of an expressive flourish that the quartet seconds nicely.
Johnson's own "Peace Concerto" has a post-Aranquez beauty in its middle "Song of Peace" and elaborate interactions on the closing movement "The Question." The opening "Portraits" has a rugged thematic character. It is all quite pleasing and well worth the ear time....Anyone who revels in the classical guitar will find in this program much to like, I think. The "Peace Concerto" will likely stay in your mind as the central linchpin, but regardless the music and performances hang together as one continually unified stylistic gesture. Johnson and company wax eloquently. In tough times like these, the music helps brighten the mood and we do need that now very much. Kudos.
CLASSICAL GUITAR MAGAZINE
This is a CD That Defies Categorization
Bustling with sumptuous music invention and spirited playing and well worth checking out. The guitar with a string quartet is a most satisfying musical balancing act, where the guitar can hold its own if the circumstances are right, and here they most certainly are. All the artists are new to me. Mark A. Radice (Dr.) from the Ithaca College School of Music, New York, has composed a vibrant piece of Baroque proportions which gives Louis Valentine Johnson‘s guitar lots of space to cavort with its bowed companions. The movements flow seamlessly, all the while making sure the guitarist coaxes his instrument with every possible technical flourish imaginable. Johnson’s Peace Concerto (arranged for string quartet by NYC pianist Cullan Bryant), was written in response to a personal tragedy—the death of the composer’s son Alexander, aged 21. In three movements—”Portraits,” “The Song of Peace,” and “The Question”—The Peace Concerto would, I imagine, be a heftily emotional work to perform for the composer/soloist. But also must be uplifting, especially with the supportive gestures of the string quartet. Knowing the inspiration of the piece is obviously enlightening, but to echo a comment from an earlier CG review by Blair Jackson of Johnson’s solo guitar version of the concerto (on an album called 21 Years) even if you didn’t, you’d still find it a work of great solace.
"… rarely recorded works coupled with Louis Valentine Johnson’s great playing …”
Carlos R. Alicea, BMC Records, New York City
CLASSICAL GUITAR MAGAZINE
A DEEPLY MOVING WORK
by Louis Valentine Johnson
Blair Jackson, Editor in Chief, Classical Guitar Magazine
Louis Valentine Johnson
People respond to personal tragedy in a million different ways. For the prolific American guitarist and composer Louis Valentine Johnson, the death of his son Alexander at the age of 21 several years ago led to Johnson memorializing his beloved child in music: the three-movement, nearly 27-minute Peace Concerto that dominates this CD release (as well as the short Prelude, “Twenty-One Years,” that kicks off the disc). As Johnson writes in the poignant liner notes, “The Peace Concerto embraces memories as Alex grew from from a baby to a little boy to a young man who then had his own son. These compositions encompass as much as music can. the opus includes our love, his struggles, his life Valiantly Running With Fire, playing The Cape, The Road Goes on Forever and the Party Never Ends, Greensleeves, and Tárrega on guitar by the fireplace, plus much more.”
And indeed it is multi-layered work that runs a gamut of emotions and musical textures. Johnson has an unerring feel for melody, and he manages to connect the different musical threads he creates quite naturally. The influence of Spanish and Latin American composers comes through in many places, but there are also American folk strains evident and even nods to the Baroque. The middle movement of the Peace Concerto, “Song of Peace,” is particularly affecting. Johnson’s tremendously detailed notes about the Concerto certainly add to emotional heft of the piece, but I think that even if you didn’t know what inspired the work, it would probably move you. It’s quite a journey.
The concluding Tres Pensamientos Latinos makes for a pleasing conclusion to the disc; all three “thoughts” are infused with rich Spanish/Latin flavors, from soulful balladry to an exciting improv on classic Spanish tropes.
Prelude: Twenty-One Years; The Peace Concerto: Portraits, Song of Peace, The Question; Tres Pensamientos Latinos: Snowfall in El Escorial, Lullaby of Love, Malagueña California!
The album can be previewed and purchased through CDBaby, and heard in its entirety, piecemeal, on YouTube.
THE IDAHO STATE JOURNAL
Classical blues for a lost son
By Louis Valentine Johnson
Michael Corrigan MA.
Louis Valentine Johnson, an Idaho native, composer and founder of the Idaho State University guitar program, has released a CD of guitar music as a tribute to his late son, Alex Johnson, who died at 21 of an accidental opioid overdose. Alex was prescribed pain killers following a car accident. Alex left behind a son. Alex also played folk, blues and classical music. Louis Valentine Johnson’s album is called Twenty-One Years.
Since receiving his Masters of Music from San Francisco State, Johnson has developed formidable skill as a classical guitarist. Blair Jackson, editor of Classical Guitar Magazine, reviewed Johnson’s CD: “Johnson has an unerring feel for melody, and he manages to connect the different musical threads he creates quite naturally.” There are many different “musical threads” in Twenty-One Years.
The section for Alex includes a “Prelude,” followed by “The Peace Concerto,” a three-movement opus containing: “Portraits,” “Song of Peace” and “The Question.” The CD continues with “Tres Pensamientos Latinos,” three original compositions including a new creative interpretation titled, “Malagueña California!”
For “The Question,” Johnson recreates music his son played, combining them to conjure images of a father and deceased son playing ghostly duets. The listener hears a grieving father playing music for the spirit of his son. In eloquent liner notes, Johnson writes, “Here we visit music Alex played on guitar. These works are included so a little boy will know his father’s voice and sound.” It is a strong musical memory piece that is particularly affecting; there is no answer to “The Question.”
In music, grief is often expressed with a strong human voice like Eric Clapton’s poignant, “Tears in Heaven,” written for his dead son. Does a classical guitar have too soft a voice to capture the despair a grieving parent feels for a lost child? Johnson’s impassioned playing proves a classical-styled guitar can evoke emotions when played with precision and fury. Johnson writes concerning his intentions: “Execution is one thing, but composing, interpretation, performance and recording of specific life-event emotions are another.
“Listeners’ perceptions are vast variables … so, effective composing conveys sentiments of beauty and pain to memorialize a moment in time.”
Louis Valentine Johnson has succeeded in musically conveying these heartbreaking sentiments of beauty and pain to memorialize his late son, but grief is still a lingering force. Johnson writes: “I am just now coming to some kind of terms with this after composing, learning and recording the music. … It is a somewhat softer—only slightly softer—pain every day, compared to what it has been for the last seven years or so.”
Twenty-One Years, which includes the “Peace Concerto” and "Three Latin Thoughts," is available as an entire CD or as individual tracks to download on CD Baby, iTunes, Spotify, Rhapsody, Amazon and 200 other online sources/distributors around the world. Louis V. Johnson can be reached at Dos Almas Studios in Grass Valley, California.
TWENTY ONE YEARS
By Louis Valentine Johnson
Robert Levoy, US Navy Veteran, Oasis Entertainment Reviews.
Twenty-One Years is the latest album by the innovative acoustic guitarist Louis Valentine Johnson released in 2017.
I found this album totally relaxing and enjoyed this CD from start to finish. My favorite tracks were Portraits, The Question, and Malaguena California!.
With me living with chronic pain, this is the perfect CD for me because music like this relaxes me and in turn lowers my pain level. If you want a CD to help you relax, whether at home or on the road, you need to check out this CD. This album was well written, performed, and recorded. You can purchase this CD at CD Baby and other places where CD’s and digital downloads are sold.
CLASSICAL GUITAR MAGAZINE
Steve Marsh Classical Guitar Magazine - United Kingdom
Goodbye to Mexico
Louis Valentine Johnson
This release by Louis Valentine Johnson is a pleasant affair. A large percentage of the tracks have been arranged by Johnson himself.....his performances tender and emotional, with here and there a 'Segovian' sweetness in the slower passages. ....traditional tunes from Mexico, Dia de Campo, and Adios del Soldado are particularly delightful arrangements, immediately conjuring up visions of the 'traditional' sleepy Mexican village one sees in movies - lovely stuff!"
.“I have had the pleasure of hearing Louis Valentine Johnson perform on several occasions. He possesses not only a fine technique,
but also a thorough knowledge of baroque performance practices. He is a sensitive and talented musician.”
Dr. Mark A. Radice, Ithaca College, Ithaca, New York
“Johnson is a skilled and sensitive interpreter, not only of pieces by venerable masters, but also those by
contemporary composers such as Jose Luis Merlin and Mark Radice, a beautiful album.”
Richard Middleton, Victory Review, Seattle, WA
“Listening to Louis Johnson is to relax in musical reverie. The delicate precision of the interpretations “sans” garish exhibitionism,
demonstrates the sincerity and sensitivity of a master guitarist.”
Enrique Coria – Argentine Guitarist, Recording Artist
"Johnson is a skilled and sensitive interpreter, not only of pieces by venerable masters, but also those by
contemporary composers such as Jose Luis Merlin and Mark A. Radice, a beautiful album.”
Richard Middleton, Victory Review, Seattle, WA
Louis Valentine Johnson is an accomplished and versatile solo guitarist with an established reputation for
concerto and concert performances of the highest calibre.”
Carlos de la Fuente, Mexico City
“The next day, after the master class, at our guitar society meeting, who was to walk in but Louis Johnson and Jose Merlin.
Louis and Jose played a duet together. These two great masters gave us a treat we will not soon forget.
Many thanks to Jose and Louis for playing so beautifully for us.""
Arnie Gamble; Sacramento Guitar Society
“Johnson is at his best bringing out moods, expressions, and subtle tones. While most guitarists play Bach like well-tempered metronomes,
Johnson can transcend geometry to a warm, fluid sensitivity.”
Joan La Liberte; Idaho State Journal
“Louis Valentine Johnson is a polished artist. He is creative in performances and continues to bring new works to the concert stage.
It has always been a pleasure collaborating on our orchestral performances with Lou.”
Maestro Ken Hardin; conductor, Orchestra Panache, Grass Valley, California
“Louis Valentine Johnson’s work is stellar. His choice of compositions and delivery is impeccable. His music soothes the soul.
Recently, I backpacked through the Grand Canyon and I had the joyous experience of listening to his latest CD while exploring this ancient marvel.
The colors and textures of his work seemed to embellish this already majestic canyon. As the canyon reveals layer upon layer of marvel,
so too is the beauty and depth of Johnson’s incredible guitar work”
Hugh Glasco, Motherlode Productions
“Louis Valentine Johnson brought his guitar artistry to Miners Foundry Friday night, September 30th. It was not long until the audience
responded to his command of the classics from Spain and the works of H. Villa-lobos with warmth and admiration.
Resounding applause and bravos filled the hall at the end of the evening.”
Joseph Guida, General Manager, KVMR FM Radio, Nevada City, CA
“He succeeds beautifully. Johnson is a fine technician, articulating notes with clarity and warmth.
His playing is dignified without seeming staid…subtly passionate..this recording’s quiet delicate beauty is its own reward”
Paul Harrar, The Union, Grass Valley, CA
“This remarkable collection of mostly 16th century Spanish guitar music is performed with astonishing grace and restraint….Johnson’s playing is superb, delightfully clear and tasteful – throughout this first in a series devoted to the history of music for the classical guitar.”
Richard Dunk, KVMR FM Program Guide, Sacramento, CA
“Louis Valentine Johnson plays the guitar with amazing clarity. Each note is perfectly articulated and beautifully formed.
His tone is full of light and richly colored. His playing of this music embodies a profound respect for its history and gives
the listener an illuminating personal encounter with the composer and the period.”
Dr. Suzanne Gaster, Aquinas College, Grand Rapids, MI
“I have listened to Louis Valentine’s Guitarra Clasica I album and it is very good! I keep this CD beside my stereo at home!”
William Glackin, Classical Music Critic, The Sacramento Bee, Sacramento, CA