Graham Johns

Section Leader, Percussion

Adopted by Mr WJ and Mrs CJ Bowley

Born in New Zealand, from a young age Graham benefited from New Zealand's rich musical education system, playing with the Christchurch Youth Orchestra, Christchurch Symphony Orchestra, the New Zealand National Youth Orchestra and the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra. In 1975, at the age of 19, Graham was appointed Principal Timpanist of the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra in Hobart, Australia, the youngest ever Principal player in the country at that time. In 1983 Graham was appointed as Section Leader Percussion of the Royal Liverpool Philharmonic Orchestra.

What is your earliest musical memory?

Hearing my brother torture a violin. I joined to guitar club at aged 6 and began piano lessons aged 10. Later I began cello lessons and 'graduated' to the timpani during high school.

What is your most memorable moment with the Orchestra so far?

Playing Gitamalya for Marimba and Orchestra by Takemitsu live on Radio 3, or maybe playing the complete Vaughn Williams Symphonies with Vernon Handley, or should I say the Shostakovich Symphonies with Petrenko, or...when shall I stop?!

If you weren't a musician, what would you be?

Anything of an outdoor nature. I love vegetable gardening and chopping wood. I was going to be an architect at one point, but got my big break at 19 winning the Principal Timpani position in the Tasmanian Symphony Orchestra, where I stayed for 3 enjoyable years before moving to Amsterdam.