I have a special connection with the MSO so performing Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto with the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra means a lot to me. Both of my parents were in the Orchestra for many years so the members of the MSO are a bit like my extended family. They are a group of extraordinary musicians and people and I feel extremely privileged to be able to perform alongside them. I grew up in Melbourne attending MSO concerts and I even conducted the MSO once when I was eight years old during a schools concert!
I grew up in a musical family so music was always something that I wanted to pursue. I loved reading, so I dreamed of becoming an author. I suppose performing music and creative writing aren’t too different, they are both storytelling.
Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto is the first piece that I begged my teacher to let me learn. I was about 10 years old. There’s just something about it, I was and still remain utterly entranced by it. I remember playing recordings of it for my friends, I was so excited to share this discovery I had made. I have revisited the piece, for some reason or another, every few years. Every time I play it I appreciate the music more and more.
In later years, playing the piece with an orchestra, as opposed to with a piano reduction, has provided even more inspiration. The richer palette of colours from the array of different instruments and the amalgamation of creativity and passion from so many musicians result in a kind of extreme chamber music. I am so excited to experience this with the MSO.
My violin is of great sentimental value to me and my family. It belonged to my grandmother who was principal second violinist of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and a first call violinist with Hollywood Studios playing in over 500 films. When I play it, it feels as though she is with me on stage.
I have been very fortunate to work with incredible teachers. My current teacher, Mihaela Martin, is an extremely passionate person and I find her intensity and absolute commitment to the music continually inspiring. My previous teacher, William Hennessy, is also an extraordinary musician who approaches music-making with so much joy and imagination. I still aspire to his example. I’m inspired by other art forms including dance and visual arts, and even by the simplest of things in everyday life; a walk in the autumn light, someone’s kindness.
Outside of making music, I make it my personal mission to find the best pizzeria in whatever city I happen to be in. In the last few years I have taken up Salsa dancing which is a lot of fun. I love to read – often at the expense of sleep.
I’m thrilled about seeing my family and friends in Melbourne and this amazing opportunity to perform with the MSO. I love how Melbourne’s classical music scene is so vibrant and world class. We are lucky to be in such a special city.
See Anne-Marie Johnson perform Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto as part of Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto at the Melbourne Town Hall on Friday 24 February.