Gregg A. Johnson’s career as a percussionist and innovator in modern and traditional hand drumming is unique. His gift is for bringing life to an authentic blending of the austere musical traditions of India, ‘found object’ percussion and program design for creativity in education.
1976 - Founding member of Repercussion Unit ~ an internationally acclaimed quintet that soared ahead of its time for 30 years.
1978 – Founder with Larry Stein of Sound Idea ~ groundbreaking found object music and composition show, predating Stomp, Blue Man Group and Recycled Percussion
1982 – Winner of Dramalogue Critics Circle award for Sound Design and Performance – Mark Taper Forum production of Steven Berkoff’s Metamorphosis
1985: Appeared as featured master teaching artist in National Young Audiences training video: The Residency;
1990-93: Served on the faculty and associate producer of the National Young Audiences Arts-In-Education Institute – developed professional development for artists and arts administrators
1978 – 1990 – Premiere disciple of Pandit Taranath Rao, performing internationally on tabla, pakhawaj and tabla tarang.
1990 – 2005 – Premiere disciple of Pandit Ravi Bellare, developing Images of India, a performance sensation with Kathak Dance, Projected Images and traditional music of India
1984 – 1995 – Featured artist-in-residence with the Instant Ensemble program for Music Center Education Division. Thematic focus: creative choice in a percussion ensemble.
1993 – 2005 – Managing Producer, Interactive Media for Arts for Learning – a nationally recognized multimedia resource for artists and educators
2005- 2007 Artistic Director of Big Thought, Dallas Texas. Developed programs with emphasis on creative choice.
2007 – 2011 Program Design Specialist for Young Audiences, Woodruff Arts Center, Atlanta, Georgia. Created standards, rubrics and evaluations for new creative choice programs.
2011 – Present Program Director for Theatre Of Hearts/Youth First, Los Angeles County’s lead agency for the design of innovative programs for at-risk and incarcerated youth.
No other American student of the Tabla drums from India has achieved the distinction of having studied at the feet of great masters for a continuous arc spanning 32 years. Gregg entered California Institute of the Arts in 1973 with declared major concentration in Tabla. He was the first student at CalArts to major in Tabla and the only Tabla major until 1978. Gregg was honored as an Ahmanson Scholar with full scholarships, completing his BFA (’77) and MFA (’79) in Tabla. He studied and performed extensively with the great Tabla maestro Pandit Taranath Rao (late) after receiving his MFA for 12 years until Pandit Taranath’s passing in 1991. From 1991-2005, Gregg continued an intensive study of Tabla in the Guru-Shishya system with Pandit Taranath’s nephew, Pandit Ravindranath Bellare (late). Gregg is an exponent of the Farukabhad Gharana which emphasizes recitation of rhythmic Sanskrit poetry and ancient Hindu prayers set to the intricate rhythmic cycles known as Tala in settings for Kathak Dance.
Concurrent with Gregg’s dedication to the traditional music of India and the Tabla is his development as a master teaching artist with Young Audiences and the Los Angeles Music Center. His residency designs and workshops are structured to maximize creative choice for students. Gregg has delivered professional development and creativity coaching to artists, educators and school administrators since 1990.