Jeff Johnston - biography
Jeff Johnston is a Canadian based composer of music for film and media, With musical beginnings as a jazz pianist and recording artist his works are infused with alluring harmonies, lush textures, rhythmic inventiveness and spontaneity. Chuck Berg of Jazz Times Magazine wrote "This is music, that while at the contemporary cutting edge, is both immediately and immensely satisfying." Johnston's trio and quartet recordings established him as a respected pianist and composer leading the Toronto Star's Geoff Chapman to deem Johnston as "clearly in Canada's top ranks" and the Globe and Mail's Mark Miller to say " This is Canadian jazz at it's best".
Born and raised in a musical family in St. John's, Newfoundland, Johnston's father is a retired big band pianist and church organist. His brother is a professional musician and piano teacher. Johnston says "There was always music in my house all day long from the time we woke up in the morning. If it wasn't a record playing, someone, somewhere was playing the piano or a guitar".
Johnston went on to study piano and composition in New York City with renowned pianist and composer Richard Beirach. More recently he studied cinematic orchestration techniques with Hollywood orchestrator Milton Nelson (Batman: Arkham Origins) and studied orchestral mixing online with Jake Jackson (Lord of the Rings, The Hunger Games).
His first forays into film music included his work on the award winning National Film Board documentary When Women Kill directed by Barbara Doran. The dark subject matter revealed Johnston's eclectic abilities as a composer. It also established a long term relationship with the NFB and Johnston has gone on to score several more of their films, including feature documentaries, docu-dramas and animations.
Scoring Justin Simm's award winning and beautiful film Hard Light was an exceptional opportunity for Johnston. National Film Board executive producer Annette Clarke writes , "My recent experience working with Jeff as composer on Hard Light was very rich and immensely satisfying. Jeff scored a complex range of emotions based on beautiful storytelling by Justin Simms inspired by Michael Crummey's poetry - it was a demanding palate to face and he pulled it off beautifully, and with great generosity."
He has twice been nominated for the Juno awards and the East Coast Music awards. The recipient of numerous awards from the Canada Council, FACTOR, Heritage Canada and The Quebec Arts Council, Johnston received the R. Murray Shafer award for composition/performance for his inventive composition ETT at the Sound Symposium music festival.
Along with his busy schedule of performing and composing, Johnston also teaches piano, composition and coaches ensembles at McGill University's Schulich School of Music. He has conducted workshops and guest lectured at universities across Canada.
Jeff Johnston is a member of the Screen Composers Guild of Canada , SOCAN, the American Federation of Musicians and the McGill Course Lecturers and Instructors Union.