Liz Dilnot Johnson

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British composer Liz Dilnot Johnson grew up on the South coast of England and studied cello with Anthony Lewis of the Medici String Quartet before going into full-time school teaching. In her mid-30s Liz took a ‘year out’ to take a Masters in Composition with Philip Cashian and was persuaded ‘not to go back to the day job’.

On completing her PhD in composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire Liz combined composition with learning and participation work as a community musician, lecturer, mentor, CPD teacher trainer, project designer and facilitator.

Liz designs innovative composition and improvisation workshops with amateurs and professionals, teachers and students, creating music in schools, hospitals, in the community, in conservatoires and universities. She has led many composition projects for Birmingham Contemporary Music Group as well as for Wigmore Hall and WNO.

‘She has an extraordinary intuition for knowing what works’
Jeffrey Skidmore, OBE

Liz’s ‘stunning’ and ‘constantly gripping’ music is widely performed and broadcast on BBC Radio 3 with regular performances by Ex Cathedra and the Fitzwilliam String Quartet. Her operas, orchestral, chamber music, solos, contemporary dance, and choral music resonate with contemporary ethical issues and often have a close connection with the natural world.

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Liz is passionate about allowing each person’s unique creativity to expand and grow. She is driven to find ways to share and express musical ideas freely and creatively, releasing performers and audiences from out-moded traditions. As a ‘co-muser’ Liz allows people permission to ‘play playfully’ and shows them how to do this in a safe environment.

Liz’s composed music encourages performers and audiences to engage with the world around them, whether it be through combining different traditions as in the ‘magnificent’ Blake Re-imagined combining choirs with improvising Indian singer and sitar, hearing a musical manifestation of the voluptuous folds of an iris flower or by listening to words of teenage activist Greta Thunberg set to ‘powerful’ music

Sean Rafferty – ‘For This Babe’ In Tune BBC Radio 3

Liz was selected in 2018 for Sound and Music’s New Voices scheme for composers; other awards include winning the Gideon Award for New Music with Sky-burial for soprano and string quartet; she was selected as finalist in the British Composer Awards with Moon Incantations. Liz has been mentored by Master of the Queen’s Music Judith Weir and her 3rd String Quartet Intricate Web was performed by the Brodsky Quartet for the opening of Kings Place, London, selected and introduced by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies.

Liz’s debut double album Intricate Web  is ‘a superb introduction to a major composer deserving wide recognition.’ (Divine Art Recordings) ‘I was immediately hooked… a significant body of English music for string quartet.’ (Nigel Morgan – Tonality Review), ‘The Cello Suite is stunning… The music explores a vast canvas… Johnson’s masterpiece… it takes its place beside Bach, Britten and Ligeti.’ (John France – MusicWebInternational).

Liz’s recent multi-disciplinary project Scintilla  with dancer/choreographer Dane Hurst  has received major awards and grants leading to three films documenting the development of the project available on the British Music Collection.

Watch Liz talk about her teaching style

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Liz Dilnot Johnson

“I learnt…how to be courageous despite not having previous improv experience. How to trust that there are ideas and an imagination inside and to let go enough to not worry about what anyone might think. To embrace vulnerability by staring it in the face and saying, – welcome to the party!”

Professional Musician

“You led the sessions very skilfully and allowed lots of space for us to develop our own ideas. The duo that was created ‘remotely’ has shown how effective working apart can be and I’d love to explore more putting together pieces involving several people.”

Professional Musician

“I feel I have learned to be brave in my own vision. Sometimes it can be very difficult with second guessing yourself, or stopping yourself because of unhelpful judgement, this course has taught me to brave, and to go for things I believe in with my playing.”

Masters Student

“Didn’t think I’d have a clue or anything to share – always thought that improvising is for proper, fully formed, enlightened, freed-up, super-confident, sassy musicians who know how to let it all hang out! It felt like heading up shit creek without a paddle, but then finding the paddle and finding that the rapids were rather fun to ride!”

Professional Musician

Liz’s Courses for Groups