Friday, November 5, 2010

Symphony concertmaster leaving

Karen Johnson, concertmaster of the Richmond Symphony since 2002, will leave the orchestra at the end of the year to join the U.S. Marine Band ("The President’s Own") in Washington.

Her husband, Karl Johnson, is a bass trombonist with the band.

Although the ensemble is best-known as a wind-and-brass band (led by John Philip Sousa from 1880 to 1892), it is also the resident orchestra of the White House. Its string complement, which the violinist is joining, performs in chamber-orchestra and chamber-music programs, usually in conjunction with social events.

In joining the Marine Band, Johnson also will join the U.S. Marine Corps. "But I won’t have to go through boot camp," she says. "That would’ve been a deal-breaker for a mother of three."

Johnson was to have been the soloist in Bartók’s Violin Concerto No. 2 in the symphony’s May 2011 Masterworks program. That performance will be rescheduled in a future season, she said.

The orchestra has scheduled auditions early next year to fill the concertmaster vacancy.