Kay Johannsen's varied musical activities are centered at the Collegiate Church Stuttgart, the main church of Stuttgart and the region. It is here that the Collegiate Cantor and and Director of liturgical music at the Collegiate church directs the Stuttgarter Kantorei, the solistenensemble stimmkunst and the Collegiate Philhamonic Stuttgart. Being the artistic director of the Collegiate Music Association Stuttgart, he is responsible for the weekly concert series An hour of church music that attracts over 20.000 concertgoers a year. The organ of the church, built in 2004 by the Mühleisen Company, which has 81 registers and four manuals, is a continuing source of inspiration for him.
In 2009, the main projects of Kay Johannsen as a conductor are the artistic direction of the Bach Week of the International Bach Academy Stuttgart, a recording of Schubert's Mass in A-Major as well as performances of the Berlioz Requiem and the oratorio The dream of Gerontius by Edward Elgar. As an organist, he will dedicate himself to and perform Widor's Symphony No. VIII, give a concert at Notre Dame in Paris and perform Chant d'automne by Wilhelm von Grunelius together with Wolfgang Bauer on the trumpet. He will appear with the Stuttgart Philharmonic in the Concert in g-minor by J. Rheinberger and the Organ Symphony by C. Saint-Saëns.
Kay Johannsen is intensely active in the study and performance of the organ works of Johann Sebastian Bach and performed l'oevre complete for organ in 1997 and in 2007. The latter performance is documented on 17 CDs (a production of Collegiate Music Stuttgart). He has recorded five CDs for the Bach Academy Edition (produced by hänssler), which habe received awards like the Diapason d'or and the Goldenen Bobby of the Association of German Sound Engineers. In addition to Bach's music for organ, he also gives concert performances of the majority of categories of Bach's works as a cembalist, chamber musician and conductor, from the Goldberg Variations to the Brandenburg Concertos and the Passion of St. Matthew.
Rooted in profound studies of Old Music, Kay Johannsen's repertoire in concert on the organ includes works of the German and French romantic period in addition to Bach and free improvisations. This is reflected in many CDs with works by Mendelssohn, Brahms, Reger, Widor, and most recently, Vierne (24 Pièces de Fantaisie recorded at the Church of our Lady in Dresden and produced by Carus).
Improvisation is one of Kay Johannsen's passions. The harmonics of his style at this time resemble Tournemire, Alain and Duruflé. It is formally varied and includes rhythms that are influenced by Jazz. Improvisations that reflect particular hymns of the christmas season and of easter are documented on two CDs produced by Carus, which attained an immense popularity in a short time.
Kay Johannsen has performed as a soloist and accompanist with many well-known ensembles. He can be listened to on CDs with the Berlin Philharmonic, conducted by Claudio Abbado (Bach, Mozart), with the Stuttgart Philharmonic lead by Gabriel Feltz (Strauss, Scriabin) and most recently in the Psalms by Charles Ives with the SWR Vokalensemble lead by Marcus Creed. The CD with the Six Sonatas for Violin and Cembalo by J. S. Bach, recorded for the Carus label together with the violinist Christine Busch, received excellent reviews.
Kay Johannsen won the German Music Competition as an organist. He and his ensemble, the Stuttgarter Kantorei, won the German Choir Competition in 2006. He is regularly asked to perform as a judge at the German Music Competition or at international competitions in Lausanne and Alkmaar.
It is also as a conductor that Kay Johannsen is becoming known to a larger public. His two CDs Göttlichs Kind with christmas music by Telemann and Noel with works by Charpentier, which he recorded for the Carus and SWR labels with the solistenensemble stimmkunst and the Ensemble 94, were received very positively internationally. He conducted an evening of music from Orfeo as a guest conductor with Christine Schäfer and members of the Berlin Philharmonic in Berlin. He also guest conducted a performance of Bach's Mass in H-Minor with the Seoul Baroque Choir, as well as concerts with the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and the Orchestre philharmonique de Strasbourg at the Stuttgart Liederhalle concert auditorium and the Collegiate Church. He has conducted the Gächinger Kantorei and the Bach-Collegium Stuttgart. His conducting reflects his focus on the performer's own creativity, as do his performances on the organ. His compositions of recent years for ensembles in different configurations were broadcast on the radio and on television.
Stand: Juli 2009