As a youngster John Hohmann’s first operatic experience was a grainy television broadcast of Cavalleria Rusticana. He found it arrestingly sung, memorably demented and notes that the effects of verismo on a child’s mind have yet to be studied. Getz/Gilberto, the elegant and atmospheric jazz recording featuring American saxophonist, Stan Getz and Brazilian guitarist, Joao Gilberto reached him as a teen-ager. These experiences influence his musical taste to this day.
Later he worked with jazz master and Free Jazz innovator Ornette Coleman and chatted backstage with Dame Gwyneth Jones after her formidable Herodias in Pittsburgh. In between he was an arts administrator, film critic, college professor, marketing executive and an award-winning producer of musical and story-telling programs for children.
Thanks to friends he made while pursing a certificate in arts administration at the Banff Center John heard Dame Joan Sutherland and Tatiana Troyanos in Norma and Martina Arroyo in Turandot at the Canadian Opera Company. It was in Vienna during a tremendously formative stay that he was introduced to the dramatic intensity of the aforementioned Dame Gwyneth Jones when she sang Richard Strauss’ Marschallin and Ariadne in the same week at the Vienna State Opera.
His fascination with these Strauss heroines would provide perspective for a graduate seminar he conducted on the art and music of early twentieth-century Vienna at New York University where he also taught a course on the evolution of corporate art collections. At New York’s Fashion Institute of Technology he curated a 50th anniversary exhibition with works by artists including Mary Edna Fraser, Claes Oldenburg and Andy Warhol, while teaching a course in gallery management.
John first came to New York as the writer and producer for an emerging production company. Tasked with creating a series of musical and storytelling programs for children he mined sources ranging from Charles Dickens to Greek Mythology and Aesop’s Fables. To create these programs he drew from talent pools in New York, Detroit and Toronto, two of which garnered coveted Parents’ Choice Awards.
A marketing agency that John co-founded gained footing in music, media, automotive and retail sectors via enduring relationships with clients including jazz labels Verve and Blue Note, Esquire Magazine, GMC, and Bloomingdale’s. John provided fresh thinking and creative approaches to building and managing strategic partnerships, advertiser and consumer events and customer loyalty programs.
The Royal Opera House, Convent Garden sought John’s advice on increasing earned income. Lord Tony Hall, then chief executive of ROH, met with John in New York resulting in meetings with marketing and development staff in New York and London. His ambitious plan, while admired, was deemed premature. Nonetheless he enjoyed observing a world-class opera company in action and found creative inspiration in the experience.
Writing has been John’s constant companion, both sustaining and consuming his creative energy. The novel he is writing is set amidst the intriguing world of a major opera company and the rustic splendor of the Swiss Alps. It draws upon his love for hiking mountain trails and an abiding affection for opera. The complexity of modern relationships and the influence of magic propel the plot.
Early in his professional life John served as the community liaison for Michigan Artrain, a five-car train that brought art exhibitions gathered from museum, private and corporate collections to rural communities. Instrumental in establishing national Michigan Artrain tours in addition to its annual home-state visits, he became its executive director and subsequently president of the board of directors.
On Friday mornings, often before sunrise, John recorded film reviews for drive-time broadcast on a classical music radio station that was conveniently located down the hall from Michigan Artrain’s Detroit office. Having established contact with film distributors, John secured an advance screening of Stephen Sondheim’s operetta A Little Night Music resulting in a lucrative fundraiser for Michigan Artrain.
As a New Yorker John embraces the cultural resources that define the city. With a gentle nudge he likes to direct friends to the dignified Queen Mother Pendant Mask in the Arts of Africa, Oceana and the Americas galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and to the spectacular display of horns in “Mapping the Art of Music,” part of the museum’s musical instruments collections. In his view the inventively staged Virgil Thompson/Gertrude Stein opera, The Mother Of Us All in the MET’s American Wing was a wonderfully progressive fusion of music and visual art, especially with those excellent Juilliard School singers.