Derrick Johnson, stage manager and cello section member, has been attending St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra concerts since before he was born. Mom, Rhonda, and Dad, John, have been active members of the violin and viola sections for the past 23 and 25 seasons respectively with the SCSO. Derrick has “grown up” with the symphony; coming to rehearsals with Mom and Dad, attending concerts with Grandma and Grandpa. Mom remembers his tiny fingers plunking on the low keys of the piano before he was even big enough to pull himself up onto the bench. Derrick had his choice of instruments; it was never a question if he was going to play, but which instrument would it be. One evening while Mom and Dad were playing their instruments together, he came carrying an 1/8-size cello asking to play along. Derrick has been studying cello with Suzuki Teacher, Steven Eckblad, for 11 years now – since the age of five.
At the age of ten he performed his first wedding gig in a quartet and started performing with Bobby Vee and The Crickets. The most memorable gig with Bobby and the Crickets was performing at Big Top Chautauqua in Bayfield, Wisconsin. Derrick had his first recording session at the age of 13 with Bobby Vee and the Vees. Derrick was first introduced to singing while attending rehearsals of Bethlehem Lutheran Church’s productions of Amahl and the Night Visitors. First time around, at age 9, he sang alto in the Shepherd’s Choir, two years later as a tenor, by the third time, he was playing in the cello section.
Like any musician, one instrument is never enough. He branched out and has been playing string bass for nearly six years. Derrick is entering his junior year at Apollo High School and is currently cello section leader of the orchestra and chamber orchestra. He was named to the All-Conference Orchestra as a freshman and sophomore, and has earned Superior ratings at State Contest for solos and ensembles.
For the past four summers Derrick has attended the Upper Midwest String and Chamber Orchestra Conference at the College of St. Benedict and studied string bass under Mark Kausch. Derrick has attended the American Suzuki Institute at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point for the past three summers. While attending ASI, he studied cello under Elliot Cheney, Carey Cheney, Tim Mutschlecner, and Lawrence Leviton. In his “free time” Derrick runs on the Apollo cross-country team, likes to fish and sets biking goals to reach Alexandria and back by trail.