Louise Johnson studied harp at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music High School, and later at the Cleveland Institute of Music and Salzedo Summer Harp School in the United States with Alice Chalifoux.
At 18, she was appointed Principal Harp of the Queensland Symphony Orchestra, a position she held for one year before pursuing a freelance career overseas. Between 1983 and 1985 she lived in London, performing as guest principal and guest second harp with the London Symphony Orchestra under the baton of Claudio Abbado and Richard Hickox. She also gave recitals in Wigmore Hall and the Purcell Room.
Louise Johnson gave her first performance with the Sydney Symphony Orchestra at the age of 14, later joining the orchestra as a permanent member, and was appointed Principal Harp in 1985. She regularly appears as a soloist with the orchestra: performing Debussy’s Danses sacres et profane with conductor Mark Elder in 1998; Mozart’s Flute and Harp Concerto with James Galway (1990), Janet Webb (2005) and Emma Sholl (2011); and Spohr’s Concertante for violin and harp with former SSO concertmaster Michael Dauth (2006); Hindemith’s Concerto for winds and harp (2013); the premiere of Lee Bracegirdle’s Legends of the Old Castle (2014); and Tan Dun’s Nu Shu – The Secret Songs of Women (2017).
She has performed with all the major Australian symphony and theatre orchestras, the Australian Chamber Orchestra and the Australia Ensemble. She has also performed with artists such as Cher, Sammy Davis Jr and the Bee Gees; toured Australia with the Bolshoi and Sadler’s Wells ballet companies and played for the Bolshoi Opera, as well as appearing with Luciano Berio in a concert of his own works. She performed the Ginastera Harp Concerto in Seattle for the 1996 World Harp Congress and was a featured artist of the 12th World Harp Congress, held in Sydney in 2014.
Louise Johnson has taught harp at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music for more than 25 years. She is in demand as a tutor and teaches regularly at the AYO National Music Camp.