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  • Musicians of the NSO

Musician Monday: Johna Smith

Updated: Nov 15, 2020

Johna Smith joined the Nashville Symphony Second Violin section in the fall of 2019. Originally from Bloomington, Indiana, Smith was born into a musical family. She received her bachelor’s degree from Vanderbilt University Blair School of Music and earned both a Master of Music and Performer Diploma in Orchestral Studies from the Indiana University Jacobs School of Music. She also has performed frequently with the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra and the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra.

When did you start playing violin and why did you choose it?

I began studying violin when I was five. When I was in preschool, a girl in the kindergarten class brought her violin one day and played Twinkle Twinkle Little Star for the class. I came home and enthusiastically announced to my parents that I was going to play violin. Both of my parents are professional musicians, but no one in our family had ever played violin, and they were planning for me to start piano lessons. After months of trying to convince me I wanted to play the piano instead, one of my mom’s friends said to her, “You have a child who is eager to play the violin. Why in the world would you insist that she play another instrument?!” And so, that fall, my persistence paid off, and I started lessons as a part of the IU Precollege String Academy.

Do you have a favorite composer or piece of music?

I love all of Gustav Mahler’s symphonies. The semester when I studied abroad as a junior in Vienna, I remember a Mahler symphony being performed at the Musikverein and being absolutely mesmerized by the gorgeous, intricate melodic writing. J.S. Bach, Johannes Brahms, and Richard Strauss would also make the top of my list for favorite composers.

Do you already have a favorite Nashville destination?

Recently, I’ve enjoyed exploring the Edwin and Percy Warner State Parks. They are a great shady escape from the very hot summer we’ve been having.

What’s something that people might not know about you?

I have a math minor from Vanderbilt and I love playing cards and board games!

What’s one of your most memorable concert experiences?

Being a part of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra’s Tour of Asia and performing in the halls in Hong Kong and Taiwan a few years ago was an experience I’ll always remember.

Lastly, any favorite vacation spots?

I love anywhere sunny with a beach! I recently traveled to Costa Rica with my good friends, and that may be my new favorite vacation spot. I would love to go to New Zealand sometime in the future!

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