Jonathan Nephi Johnson

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Jonathan Johnson was born in Washington State in 1980. His horn studies began at age 12 with Walt Cole. He also studied piano from age 5, primarily with Nancy Drake. At age 13, his family moved to Maryland, where he continued his horn studies with Jim Gollmer of the Washington D.C. Navy Band,and performed with the Chesapeake Youth Symphony Orchestra. At age 15, while studying piano with Cecelia Wyatt, Jonathan was a co-winner in a piano concerto competition sponsored by the Anne Arundel Music Teachers Association,and, along with the other two winners, performed a concerto movement with full orchestra. At 17, he won the Mark and Kirk Elvy Memorial Piano Solo Competition, which at the time was the most prestigious solo piano competition sponsored by the AAMTA.

Jonathan continued his piano and horn studies at Snow College, where he began to focus heavily on exploring the horn’s solo repertoire. After his freshman year, he gave his horn a vacation, working instead as a construction laborer, security guard, and pizza delivery driver, and serving a church mission to England. Subsequently he resumed his studies at Brigham Young University,where he studied horn with Cathy Colton and Larry Lowe. In addition to performing undergraduate solo recitals and concerts with school ensembles, he freelanced with community ensembles and artists such as Peter Cetera, Kurt Bestor, and Marie Osmond. He also provided piano accompaniment for other students, and maintained a private studio of piano students. He completed his Bachelor of Music in horn performance in April 2007.

Awards and Competitions

In 2005, Professor Lowe encouraged several students, including Jonathan, then a sophomore, to compete in the International Horn Competition of America, formerly known as the American Horn Competition. Although he did not advance past the first round, the competition was a pivotal experience, from which he derived new goals and motivation. He began to work seriously toward the standard of performance he had heard, with the intention of returning as a serious contender.

Jonathan realized that goal in July, 2007, when he traveled to Bowling Green, Ohio, and won the University Division of IHCA 2007.

That same year, he was also awarded an Oscarson Discovery Grant, which covered the majority of his expenses associated with traveling to the competition.

Of his experiences, Jonathan reflected:

Competitions like IHCA are, in my opinion, critical to the development of an aspiring performer. As a music student, you don’t realize how high the standard of performance is until you get outside your own university and hear the best student players from all over the country at the top of their game. These are not college professors or career orchestral performers who have been refining their technique since before you were born; they are your peers and your future colleagues.

Winning this competition was the fulfillment of a dream for me. When I heard the finalists perform in 2005, I realized how much I had to learn, but I believed I could match their standard of playing if I worked hard enough. Since then, I have tried to put aside my excuses and focus on improving my skills.

I’ve been fortunate to have parents who coaxed and supported me through those early years when nearly every music student wants to quit, as well as teachers who demanded my best effort and showed me how fulfilling music can be.


While working in Maryland during the summer of 2002, Jonathan met Polly Squires, a marine biology intern from Utah State University. They married in 2004. Polly’s patience and supportive attitude have been critical to his success, particularly during a year of indecision that included radical changes to his major and career plans.

Jonathan and Polly live in Los Angeles, California, where he is studying with Jim Thatcher and working toward a Masters Degree at USC. He is also taking orchestral auditions. In their free time, Jonathan and Polly enjoy swimming, hiking, cycling, disc golf, and exploring L.A.


  • Johnson, Jonathan. "Ken Crossley Reply." Unpublished Biography. 9 November 2007.
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