2019 GFA Winner Johan Smith, presented by the FSU Guitar Studio

Swiss classical guitarist, Johan Smith, is a highly acclaimed, illustrious musician, bringing virtuosic interpretations to his instrument. Winner of the prestigious Guitar Foundation of America (GFA) competition in  2019 and defined as the “Classical Guitar Revelation 2017” by the notable French magazine “Guitar Classical Magazine”, Johan Smith has become one of the most prominent names in the world of classical guitar. He has been invited to perform in renowned festivals, is a highly in-demand concert soloist, and has performed with orchestras such as the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra and the Versoix Chamber Orchestra. He is currently preparing the recording of his second album with Naxos, as well as tours that will bring him to perform in China, the United States, Canada, and at the famous Carnegie Hall in New York.

Playing at the highest level, Johan Smith has won some of the most competitive and distinguished guitar competitions in the world. As a result of his 2019 win of classical guitar’s most venerable competition, Guitar Foundation of America (GFA), Johan has recorded his first solo album with the Naxos Label (2020); He was a featured soloist in the virtual June 2020 GFA conference and will begin a nine-month tour from September 2021 throughout June 2022, presenting solo concerts, conducting masterclasses and outreach activities in over 50 cities across the United States and Canada. Johan is recording his second album with the Naxos Label as part of winning 1st place in the Changsha International Guitar Competition in 2019, and, will also be embarking on a 6-city tour throughout China (Hangzhou, Chengdu, Kunming, Yueyang, Xi’an, Changsha).

In addition to winning 1st prize the Guitar Foundation of America (US) and the Changsha International Guitar Competition (China) in 2019, Johan Smith has also won prizes in the following competitions: Special Prize from the Victoria & Joaquin Rodrigo Foundation, 1st prize at the VI° International Guitar Competition of Thessaloniki, 1st prize at the International Competition of Fontenay-Sous-Bois, 1st prize at V° International Festival Guitare au Beffroi, 1st prize at the 89° Leopold Bellan International Competition, 1st prize at the XIII° National Competition of Ceyzeriat (also winning the public prize), 3rd prize at the III°
Pleven International Guitar Competition, 3rd prize at I° Aalborg International Guitar Competition.

Johan’s particular interest in contemporary music has led him to collaborate with several composers, including Josquin Schwizgebel and Arnaud Fillion, who dedicated his “Concerto for Guitar and Orchestra” to Johan. His affiliation with Arnaud Fillion bestowed an opportunity to record Fillion’s three-movement concerto with the Budapest Symphony Orchestra in October 2019, released in February 2020.

Notable career highlights include Johan’s collaboration with the Lausanne Chamber Orchestra at the BCV Concert Hall in Switzerland in May 2019, performing one of the most prestigious classical guitar concertos, Joaquín Rodrigo’s “Concerto de Aranjuez”. Johan also was a featured soloist at the 9th (2017) and 11th (2019) annual International Guitar Festival of Versoix, Switzerland, playing with the Chamber Orchestra of Versoix at the festival in October 2017 and was invited back to perform a solo recital in November 2019.

Born in 1990 in Geneva, Johan obtained a Bachelor in 2015 and a “Master’s of Arts in Instrumental Pedagogy” in 2017 at the University of Music of Lausanne, in the class of Dagoberto Linhares. In addition to teaching guitar at the Conservatory of Morges, he also obtained the most important academic title in the field of musical performance in Switzerland: the “Master of Arts specializing in Music Performance Soloist”(2019), awarded by the highest grade.

In a completely different approach, he is the founder, composer, performer, and graphic designer in the extreme metal band “Stortregn”, with whom he has already recorded four albums and played in three continents since 2005.
Johan is an endorsee of Savarez guitar strings, one of the world’s leading string manufacturers (founded in 1770).



Concert: Friday, January 21st at 7:30 in FSU’s Dohnanyi Recital Hall. The program will feature music by Bach, Brittan, Mozart, Rodrigo, Pat Metheny, and more. Presented by the FSU Guitar Studio.

Masterclass: Thursday, January 20th from 6-9 pm in Room KMU 212 of the FSU Kuersteiner Music Building