Short Bio

Between American & European debuts with the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra in 2019 & Ensemble Intercontemporain in 2022, Maya Miro Johnson – a composer, conductor, and interdisciplinary artist who considers her work philosophy not constrained to logic and reason – has created works for violin/prerecorded Gaga class (Johnny Gandelsman); ensemble/shoes/silent film/bartered objects (loadbang); chamber orchestra/slinkies/wine glasses/sound hoses (Cabrillo); soprano/ensemble/radios (Zeitgeist, winner of both Schuman and Surinach Prizes in the 2020 BMI Student Composer Awards in a historical first); electroacoustic metainstrument (Mekhi Gladden & Drew Schlegel); chamber group/game show host (Sarasota Festival)… Currently in her third year of undergraduate studies at the Curtis Institute of Music, she also studies privately with Chaya Czernowin at Harvard and serves as a cover conductor for the Minnesota Orchestra, starting with their Sibelius Festival in Winter 2021/2022. Summer studies have included NYO-USA, BUTI, soundSCAPE, Fresh Inc, Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s Conducting Institute, & with Robert Spano at Aspen.

Long Bio

Maya Miro Johnson (b. 2001) is a conductor, composer, and interdisciplinary artist who considers her work philosophy not constrained to logic and reason. In no particular order, it focuses on:

  • Exorcising hereditary ghosts
  • Corroding the capitalist continuum
  • Satirizing supremacy paradigms
  • Affirming the intellectual and aesthetic value of the proletariat by recontextualizing the quotidian
  • Manipulating the duality of the familiar and the strange
  • Invoking the universe

    Equally at home on the stage, at the gallery, and in the concert hall, Maya blends a unique background in theater, film, dance performance, concept art, literature, philosophy, and classical music into her praxis.

Maya made her professional debut in February 2019 with a commission from The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, premiered by that orchestra and Tito Muñoz, and will make her European debut 2022 with Ensemble intercontemporain. She began studies with Rei Hotoda in 2016 and shortly thereafter was selected as Apprentice Conductor in the National Youth Orchestra of the USA 2017, where she assisted on tour in Latin America. She was Luna Composition Lab’s 2017/18 Griselda Villanueva Fellow, and attended the 2018 Boston University Tanglewood Institute as an ASCAP Scholar. Summer 2019 included studies at the Fresh Inc Festival, soundSCAPE Performance/Composition Exchange, Cabrillo Festival of Contemporary Music Conductors/Composers Workshop, and Miguel Harth-Bedoya’s Conducting Institute; a commission from bassoonist Brad Balliett; and a special appearance as tap dancer at the ACF’s 5th Anniversary NextNotes Showcase in Minneapolis.

She has conducted premieres of her own works at National Sawdust, Roulette, UCLA, and the Curtis Institute of Music, and will attend the Aspen Conducting Academy as one of its youngest fellows ever in summer of 2020 (deferred due to Covid-19), following a guest artist residency with the Sarasota Music Festival at the invitation of its music director, Jeffrey Kahane (deferred due to Covid-19). The 20/21 season includes her record label debut for Sono Luminus with a new set of pieces based on Bulgakov’s The Master and Margarita, commissioned by pianist Inna Faliks. Additional releases number inclusion on HOCKET’s #What2020SoundsLike album of miniatures, a piece in the Musical Mentors Collaborative’s Requiem-20 project, and the digital premiere of Nouveau, a concert program of contemporary violin repertoire and interviews. Upcoming projects also include an evening-length commission from London-based conductor Toby Thatcher for his organization, Zeitgeist, a new piece for the ensemble loadbang, a work for violinist Johnny Gandelsman of Brooklyn Rider, a retuned piano project with B.K. Zervigon and JT Hassel, a new piece for trombonist William Lang, and an installation based on the work of Simone Weil with director/videographer/visual artist David Michalek and dramaturg Norman Frisch, funded by The American Opera Project’s Helping Hands Grant.

In an historical first, Maya received both the William Schuman Prize (for most outstanding score) and the Carlos Surinach Prize (for youngest winner) in the 2020 BMI Student Composer Awards.  Other recent recognition includes 2021 Beth Morrison Projects: Next Generation Finalist, 2021 ASCAP Morton Gould Award Finalist, 2020 ASCAP Morton Gould Awards Honorable Mention, 2020 and 2019 YoungArts Winner, 2019 National Merit Scholarship Corporation Finalist, 2019 Davidson Fellowship Honorable Mention, 2019 ASCAP Morton Gould Award Finalist, 2019 BMI Young Composer Award Finalist, and 2019 NextNotes Winner.  

Maya currently holds the Tureck Bach Research Institute Fellowship at the Curtis Institute of Music, where she studies with Richard Danielpour, Nick diBerardino, and Amy Beth Kirsten. She frequently plays as a substitute violinist in the Curtis Symphony Orchestra and takes lessons with Philadelphia Orchestra Associate Concertmaster Juliette Kang. Prior to entering Curtis, Maya studied conducting with Conner Gray Covington, composition with Devin Maxwell, and violin with Yuki MacQueen. She is extremely grateful to all those who have provided mentorship and guidance, including Marin Alsop, Chaya Czernowin, Lina Gonzalez-Granados, David Ludwig, Nico Muhly, Andrew Norman, Kristin Kuster, Simon Holt, Missy Mazzoli, and Matthias Pintscher, among many others.

With oboist and composer Sarrah Bushara, she forms the experimental performance duo ~ [pronounced two], which creates original performance art, composed theater, text pieces, sound art and installations, interpretive dance, and amateur films. ~‘s work will be featured this year in an interactive, week-long digital piece commissioned by Zeitgeist.

In her ever-dwindling spare time, Maya studies Gaga (Ohad Naharin’s dance language) and pampers her enormous black cat, Felix.  She has been described many times as “an enigma” and delights in not fully understanding what people mean by that (!?).

(Long Bio May 2021)

Please click here for 1-page Curriculum Vitae (May 2020).