Canadian pianist and writer, Penny Johnson is best known for her performances of the music of J. S. Bach. Solo recitals have included the complete Inventions & Sinfonias, the Goldberg Variations and Art of Fugue, for which she composed an ending to the unfinished final movement. Penny has also completed an edition of the composer’s Fifteen Two-Part Inventions arranged for inverted voices, a project inspired by Rosalyn Tureck.
In 2016, Penny released a recording of the Inventions & Sinfonias and, prior to that, was a semi-finalist at the 8th International J. S. Bach Piano Competition in Würzburg, Germany. She has also attended residencies at The Banff Centre where she was a recipient of grants from the Canada Council for the Arts.
Originally from Sault Ste. Marie, Ontario and currently residing in Mississauga, Penny holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Manhattan School of Music, where, as a student of Constance Keene, she was a recipient of the Helen Cohn Award given to an outstanding graduate of the doctoral program. She also holds a Master of Music degree and a Bachelor of Music degree with High Distinction from the Eastman School of Music where she was a student of Barry Snyder. In France, Penny has studied privately with Jean Paul Sevilla. Early studies were with Margaret Hart and Dale Innes. Written under the guidance of the noted author and radio host, David Dubal, Penny's doctoral dissertation deals with Ignacy Jan Paderewski and the Golden Age of pianism.
A former member of the College of Examiners at The Royal Conservatory, Penny has held teaching positions at the Eastman School of Music, the Manhattan School of Music and the University of Regina Conservatory for the Performing Arts in addition to various community music schools in the greater New York City and Toronto areas. From 2014-16, she served as a Product Manager and Teacher Liaison for Steinway Piano Gallery Toronto and has also worked at Steinway Hall in New York City.
A former contributing author for The Glenn Gould Foundation and the creator of Glenn Gould 905: A Triple Birthday Multi-Media Celebration for the Chamber Music Society of Mississauga, Penny is deeply influenced by Glenn Gould, in particular his radio documentaries and the moral fibre of his pursuit of ecstatic experiences through sound. In her blog, Further North, Penny has written a series of articles that seek to humanize Gould by way of amusing references to various aspects of media, story-telling and pop culture.
Active as a teacher, adjudicator, coach and clinician, Penny’s latest workshop entitled, From the Pianist’s Toolbox: Techniques for Effectively Practicing the Music of J.S. Bach, has been presented at various locations around the GTA, including several branches of ORMTA and Steinway Piano Gallery Toronto. Previous adjudication and master class engagements have included the Peel Music Festival, Brantford Kiwanis Music Festival, various branches of ORMTA, The Beckett School at Laurier, The Royal Conservatory and the Regina Musical Club Competition. Penny is also the creator of The Great Pianists: Stories, Music & More which is currently being presented at various public libraries .
Additionally, Penny has transcribed archived audio footage for the International Piano Archives at the University of Maryland (IPAM) and is on the board of directors for the Chamber Music Society of Mississauga. Penny is currently working on a book about the teaching legacy of her former teacher, Constance Keene.