IRENE JOHANSEN (b. December 16, 1958 Drumheller, Alberta). Raised in Calgary, Irene completed a B.Mus. in Composition with William S. Jordan at the University of Calgary, joining the board of New Works Calgary in the 1980's. Since then she has been writing her own brand of chamber and dance music for performance in Canada, the US and Europe, and broadcast on the regional and national networks of CBC Radio. New York Univerity's "Music in Italy" (Festival Gubbio 1990) introduced her work to audiences in Europe. She later returned to NYC to complete her Masters at the Aaron Copland School of Music (Queens College/CUNY), studying composition with Thea Musgrave and Leo Kraft, and analysis with Carl Schachter, Charles Burkhart, and Henry Burnett. In addition to her regular studies, she has participated in many workshops and festivals in composition and conducting in Canada, Europe and the United States.
While in New York, Irene joined "The Next Stage Company" as company composer, performer and resident conductor. In 1996, she moved to Toronto, where she served on the board of Opera Anonymous in Toronto, participating in productions as co-producer, production manager, production stage manager, chorus and assistant conductor with OA as well as other opera companies in the GTA. Since returning to Calgary in 2002, she has rejoined the board of New Works Calgary.
Awards have included grants from the Canada Council, the Alberta Foundation for the Canadian Music Centre, Alberta Culture, and scholarships from the University of Calgary, New York University, and Queens College's Rosen Scholarship Fund. She was also among the first group of five recipients of the Alberta Heritage Foundation's Arts Study Scholarships for her work in New York.
Irene writes for all combinations of instruments, voice, and electro-accoustics as she has been moved or asked, but has of late developed a special interest in the native and western North American culture in music, painting, and storytelling she grew up with. Of her writing she says, "My music tends to reflect the open and varied landscape I grew up in: spacious, loosely styled. New York has crept in, however, and with it a more dense sound from time to time, especially in recent work."