A musical tribute to fathers who lose their sons

I miss my father on Father’s Day. He was my “pal forever,” and his wisdom has helped guide me in being a father.

It’s hard to imagine being a father and missing your son on Father’s Day, because he preceded you in death. But it happens. And there are tributes just the same. Here’s one:

For its last Third-Sunday concert of the season, In-Concert Sierra is presenting Jose Luis Merlin, one of the world’s best guitarists.

“Almost every classical guitarist has played the music of José Luis Merlin…the poet of the guitar,” as InConcert Sierra points out. “His compositions such as ‘Sueno Con Caballos,’ and ‘Suite del Recuerdo,’ are among his most famous.”

All the way from his home in Spain, Merlin returns to InConcert Sierra to perform a special Father’s Day concert and a premiere composition in memory of locally renowned guitarist Louis Valentine Johnson’s son, Alex Johnson.

Alex Johnson, a bright star, was deeply loved by many people, as his obituary in 2010 points out. He was born in 1988, the only son of Lou Johnson and Nancy Deitchman. He died peacefully in his sleep.

Alex was a father himself — of a 1-year-old son. “Alex was a wonderful father to his young son and enjoyed being a Dad. He lived in and loved Grass Valley and Nevada City,” his obituary read.

Louis Johnson, Alex’s dad, is an accomplished guitarist. In fact, he has performed with José Luis Merlin. Otono in El Escorial (Autumn in El Escorial) was composed by José Luis Merlin for two guitars. This composition was premiered and performed by José Luis Merlin and Louis Valentine Johnson in 2005.

José Luis Merlin wrote, “I enclose for you a new composition over the Estudio number 5 by Fernando Sor. It is dedicated to you!”

Johnson, or “LVJ,” has performed at the inaugural season of Music in the Mountains. Concert performances have included San Francisco, as well as international ones in Norway, Denmark, France, Italy and Spain. Radio and TV credits include Classical Broadcasts, KQED-San Francisco and National Public Radio stations in various cities.

This Father’s Day, however, Louis V. Johnson will be remembering his son at the 2 p.m. concert at the Seventh-Day Adventist Church in Grass Valley. “This performance is sponsored by Barry & Connie Dorland, Louis V. Johnson and Libby Zuniga in memory of Alex Johnson, Bea and Jerry Pressler, and the Porter & McWilliams families in memory of Cory Jones.”

In “Peaceful Memories of Alex,” Louis Johnson writes:

Alex, my boy, my son, you have enriched and changed my life in many ways. You mean so much to me, your family, and your little son Alex. You had your time here. I wish it were more. I am very happy to have been with you on your journey. My eyes look at each sunrise, each day, and every sunset for you and your little boy. I am so sorry that you are gone. You were a generous heart, a talented, caring young man, and a beautiful soul. I hope that you have traveled safely, on the calmest of waters, as we did together on mountain lakes in our canoe. You are away from your worldly pain, and now rest with our love, in peace. You are with me every day in my heart. You and me, my boy, until we meet again.

Always and forever.
Love,
Dad

A video of Merlin playing the guitar is here.

(Photo credits: LouisVJohnson.com)

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