Liz Johnson is a composer based in the beautiful Malvern Hills. She has taught composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire BCU since 1999.

Liz Johnson (née Dilnot) grew up in Havant, Hampshire and studied cello with Anthony Lewis of the Medici String Quartet at Kingston Polytechnic before going into teaching in South London and Birmingham.

After ten years of classroom teaching, Liz took a 'year out' to do a Masters in Composition at the Royal Birmingham Conservatoire. There she was persuaded to give up the day job and to pursue composing full time.

Johnson was taught composition by Philip Cashian and mentored by Judith Weir, Julian Philips and Jonathan Harvey. Prizes include the Birmingham Chamber Music Society Composition Prize 1998 (Brief is the Breath) and 2001 (Quartet No. 1 Images of Trees) and the International Alliance of Women Musicians Search for New Music Gideon Award for Quartet No.4 Sky-burial for voice and string quartet.                                                                                                     

Liz Johnson's richly diverse music ranges from luscious choral and vocal works to delicately layered and complex chamber music, broadcast on BBC Radio 3, with performances by ensembles and performers including the Brodsky QuartetRoderick WilliamsEx CathedraThe Opera GroupIxionNoszferatu, the Fitzwilliam String Quartet,  Ensemble Bash, the Goldberg Ensemble, the Ionian SingersJuiceDr K Sextet and BCMG String Quartet No.3 Intricate Web was selected by Sir Peter Maxwell Davies for the opening of Kings Place, London.  Moon Incantations for children's choir reached the final of the British Composer Awards. Is This It? a mini opera was performed at Covent Garden by the Opera Group and other commissions include Tide purl for string quartet, Inflorescence for soprano saxophone and piano, and Diptera for solo harp. 

Works with dance include Two Pages with choreographer Eva Perdiki, Under Your Breath with choreographer Sela Kiek.

Liz also works extensively in the community. She leads and designs inclusive creative music workshops both with adults (creative workshops and also teacher training) and in mainstream schools, and in special  schools, care homes and hospitals. She delivers composition and creative music projects for organisations including BCMG Learning and Participation team, Open University, Presteigne Festival, Birmingham Children's Hospital, Malvern Concert Club, Welsh National Opera and local schools. 

Recent projects: Credo for solo viola part of the Creative Synergy exhibition - a collaboration with artist Dora Williams exploring issues of displacement and seeking refuge; Colwall Requiem for Aleppo - a major new work for SATB Choir with piano, organ and solo viola'...inspirational'. Raising awareness of the plight of refugees from Aleppo and all around the world; Cello Suite Reflections of an Eccentric English Artist - a flexible suite for unaccompanied cello based around Hildegard's Ave generosa; Almost... for sax octet inspired by David Hart's poetry; and songs for treble voices As Shadows Grow; Gigerlette for soprano and chamber ensemble. 

Other new collaborations for 2018: Scintilla a new work for clarinets and live electronics with Dr James Dooley and clarinettist Jack McNeill, Triptych 2 for solo theorbo with Matthew Wadsworth and another new commission for Ronald Woodley for basset horn and harp.

CD releases:  Intricate Web chamber music and songs by Liz Johnson (double CD); Flotilla saxophone consort, O Vos available from Songs and Icons Lekan Babalola, Ide Osun available from

Intricate Web CD recording of Johnson's complete string quartets with the Fitzwilliam String Quartet, singer Loré Lixenberg and clarinettist Ronald Woodley. Includes the award-winning Sky-burial, setting words by Kathleen Jamie, and a set of new pieces setting Jo Shapcott's quirky poetry for female voice. Sea-change: a new clarinet quintet features five different clarinets for the soloist and five instruments each for the string quartet, including Swanee whistles.

"...stunning" MusicWebInternational

Click here to hear music from the CD and a short video with Liz, the Fitzwilliam Quartet, Loré Lixenberg and Ron Woodley (clarinets) with Heather Tuach on cello.


Liz leading the Banded About Ensemble, Birmingham at the CBSO Centre

Forthcoming new pieces:

Triptych II and III - new pieces for baroque oboe and baroque cello based on the art of Dora Williams.

Scintilla - a piece for solo clarinettist and live electronics based on the clarinet quintet Sea-change, with clarinettist Jack McNeill

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