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Adam Johnson

Adam Johnson

Meet the conductor taking up the baton in Calgary Add to ...

Adam Johnson tried to talk his mother out of signing him up for piano lessons when he was 7, but in the end agreed to practice three times a week to earn his weekly allowance.

Even years into the lessons, he would still take Bon Jovi over Beethoven. That all changed at the local movie theatre – the Roxy – when Johnson was 16.

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The Edmonton Symphony Orchestra had travelled to Hinton, Alta., as part of its outreach program – and he heard a live orchestra for the first time. The resulting spine tingles would divert his path away from the priesthood or a pilot’s licence, and toward the piano and, ultimately, the podium.

“That was the first time I realized grown men and women could make a living doing this,” says Johnson, 34.

On Thursday, he will make his debut with the Calgary Philharmonic Orchestra, where he was recently named resident conductor after a nationwide search. You could say he is coming full circle: One of his key responsibilities will be leading community concerts.

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