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Behind the Mouthpiece: Johan Stone talks about his journey to the Gävle Symphony

Every musician navigates a journey filled with trials, tribulations, fortunate twists, and relentless dedication. Join us weekly as we delve behind the mouthpiece, unveiling the rich experiences and invaluable lessons that have shaped each of our artists' paths.

This week we meet French Horn professional Johan Stone who shares his journey to the Gävle Symphony Orchestra in Sweden.

"Can you share a little about your initial musical beginnings? Where did you first start learning your instrument, and were there any key institutions or individuals that inspired you?"

I started learning the horn as a part of the wider opportunities scheme at my primary school, everyone in the class chose an instrument to learn for the year and out of the options, I was most drawn to the French horn. I was already quite interested in music, so I took it home after school and played for fun. By the time we had to give the instruments back I was quite set on learning it more.

"Tell us about your formal education in music. Which institutions did you attend and what were the significant milestones during your studies?"

I started studying at Chetham’s School of Music aged 10 and then continued into higher education at the Royal Academy of Music. One of the big milestones of my time at Chetham’s was being a part of the National Youth Orchestra of GB, I was lucky to be in the orchestra from 2015 to 2018. Then at the Royal Academy I just took every piece of professional work as a milestone in my journey.

"Please list the orchestras, bands, or ensembles you've been a part of, along with the years of your association and any significant roles or positions you held."

I’ve worked as a freelance musician in the UK and abroad, playing with the London Chamber Orchestra, Bournemouth Symphony orchestra, Britten Sinfonia, Liverpool Philharmonic, Nash Ensemble, Ensemble 360 and Folkoperan. I was also in the Band of the Royal Yeomanry from 2019 to 2023.

I’m currently a permanent member of the Gävle Symphony Orchestra in Sweden.

"Reflecting on your musical journey, can you mention some of the most notable projects, recordings, or performances you've been a part of? Any collaborations or pieces that you’re particularly proud of?"

As a soloist I’ve had the pleasure of premiering two solo horn pieces commissioned by the Royal Academy of Music as a part of their 200 pieces project; one by Gavin Higgins and another by Adam Melvin. Another highlight was performing Hans Abrahamsen’s ‘Congratulations Greeting’ for solo horn at Wigmore Hall.

"How did you first come to know about London Fanfare Trumpets?"

Through joining the Band of The Royal Yeomanry I met the founder Tom who introduced me to LFT.

"Of all the events you've performed at with London Fanfare Trumpets, which one stands out the most to you and why?"

There’s been a few memorable events, two which really stand out. The first is the ‘Late late show with James Corden’ where we performed a marching display for the finale of the series. The second is the Lewes Bonfire night march, which is probably one of the craziest places I’ve been in general!

"How has London Fanfare Trumpets played a role in your professional development, both in terms of your growth as a musician and the valuable connections or collaborations you've formed? Are there specific experiences or relationships that stand out as pivotal in your journey?"

It was great for playing in a range of different sized ensembles and having lots of experience with different styles of music. It was also excellent for meeting freelance musicians who were very happy to give advice about the industry and share their experiences.

London Fanfare Trumpets made an introduction to Alex Wide (principal horn of the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra) and sponsored me through some one to one lessons with him which led to my first performance of Tchaikovsky 6 with the Bournemouth Symphony Orchestra a week later!

"Based on your experiences, what advice would you give to aspiring musicians looking to build a successful career?"

I think there’s so many ways to build a successful career with music, so whilst you’re studying or are early on in your career, explore as many options as you have time for and figure out what works best for you. Be on time, be smart and play to the best of your ability. Use your professional network around you and see where you end up!

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