Sarah Johnson

Associate Professor Emerita of Violin

Sarah Johnson retired in May 2019.

Sarah Johnson, a gifted child performer, made her debut with the Minneapolis Symphony at the age of ten. Hailed as “quintessentially romantic and uncommonly witty” she has received accolades throughout the US, South America and Europe for her “first rate fiddling” (New York Times). In addition to her international and regional touring, Ms. Johnson also served for nearly a decade as founder and director of the critically-acclaimed and very popular “Sarah Johnson & Friends” chamber music series at the Dock Street Theatre in Charleston, SC.

Ms. Johnson is an active proponent of music by women as well as a performer who regularly premieres new works, having given premieres of concerti in Atlanta, North Carolina, South Carolina, Washington, DC, Iowa, California and Minnesota. She was actively involved in commissioning and premiering the Violin Concerto (1993) by Pulitzer Prize winning composer Robert Ward.

In 1994, she released her first compact disc on the Albany Label, entitled “Scarlet and Blue” which featured the Robert Ward Violin Concerto. Her second CD “American Romantics” features the music of Arthur Foote and Amy Beach and was released in 1995. In the spring of 1996 she made a five-city tour of Brazil, under the auspices of the State Department, playing the music featured on that CD.

She made her European debut at the Spoleto Festival in Italy at the personal invitation of Gian-Carlo Menotti following her performance of his violin concerto, a performance which was featured on the CBS Morning News.

She was the first recipient of the South Carolina Performing Artist Fellowship and has toured the region extensively on the Southern Arts Federation, North Carolina and South Carolina Touring programs. In the early 1980’s she served as a NC visiting artist and as the Artist-In-Residence in Camden, South Carolina in a pilot program funded by the SC State Arts Commission and that local community.

In 1997 she was awarded a Regional Artist grant by the Winston-Salem Arts Council to promote the American romantic repertoire in Europe. After an initial trip to Brussels, an accident interrupted her performing career for a year. Then, in March of 2000, fully recovered, she and pianist Jane Hawkins toured to South Africa. There, as guest artists at the Franschoek Chamber Music they performed and taught under the auspices of the University of Cape Town and promoted the summer release of Fiddler’s Galaxy. This CD features the music of young North Carolinian composers Kenneth Frazelle, who wrote the eponymous work, and Aaron Bachelder as well as pre-eminent American composers, Robert Ward and Lukas Foss.

A former member of the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, a member of the Converse Trio and a founding member of the South Carolina Chamber Orchestra, Ms. Johnson is a graduate of The Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia where she studied with Ivan Galamian, Jaime Laredo and members of the Guarneri Quartet. Further studies were made in New York City with Erica Morini and the Beethoven scholar, Karl Ulrich Schnabel. While in New York she freelanced and played with the Orpheus Ensemble.

Ms. Johnson has taught on the visiting faculties of the Eastman School of Music, Duke University, and the College of Charleston. She has participated in the festivals of the Grand Tetons, Eastern Music Festival, Piccolo and Spoleto Festivals, Summer Scenes on Roanoke Island, Cabrillo Festival, Bear Lake Festival, the Austin Chamber Music Festival, Gateways, EVIVVA! and ArtsIgnite in Winston-Salem, An Appalachian Summer and Summer Music in Blowing Rock and the Chapel Hill Chamber Music Festival and Workshop.

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