Principal harpist of the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Johanna Wienholts is an up-and-coming harpist recognized for her expressive playing, warm tone, and natural performance abilities. Onstage, she has a striking elegance and strength that allow her to give liberally and powerfully to her audience. Warmth and dynamism balance in her playing to dazzle listeners and illuminate the truest intention behind the music on the page.
Johanna holds a Bachelor's degree of Music in Classical Harp Performance from University of Toronto's Faculty of Music and is currently completing a Master's degree in Harp Performance at Manhattan School of Music. She began playing Suzuki harp at age five in Cincinnati, Ohio and went on to attend Interlochen Arts Academy where she studied with Joan Holland, professor of harp at University of Michigan. Johanna studied for four years in Toronto with the renowned Judy Loman, one of the last pupils of Carlos Salzedo, a founder of the modern harp technique. Mariko Anraku, associate harpist for the Metropolitan Opera, is Johanna’s current teacher in New York City. This extensive training has allowed her to learn harp technique from some of the best teachers in the field and she has won numerous awards during her education.
As a freelance harpist in New York City and Toronto, Johanna has had opportunities to perform with orchestras all over the United States and Canada. She has developed a career as a young orchestral musician and a reputation in New York City for being a prominent principal harpist and chamber musician. Johanna is an avid performer of both the standard symphonic repertoire as well as contemporary music, having been called to perform with numerous contemporary ensembles in New York by harpists such as Nancy Allen (New York Philharmonic) and Susan Jolles (Metropolitan Opera). Johanna’s ability to navigate fast pedal changes and complicated rhythms enable her to maintain a sense of lyrical phrasing even in the most challenging of orchestral parts and contemporary compositions. She has had experience recording for film and for other genres including hip-hop, jazz, and folk music.
Johanna delights in playing all styles of solo harp music and has been featured as a soloist in both the United States and Canada. She has commissioned new works for the harp and is interested in expanding the repertoire for the instrument. In addition to her life as a performer, Johanna is an enthusiastic harp teacher and is excited to build her teaching studio in Madison. Former harp teacher at the historic Diller-Quaile School of Music, Johanna cares about her students deeply and enjoys passing on the lessons and technique she has learned to the next generation of harpists. One focus of hers is the holistic approach to making music, specifically focused on relaxed playing and strength of hand position. Johanna believes in spreading her love of musical expression through a relaxed and total usage of the body and she hopes to continue sharing her ideas and music with the world for the rest of her life.