Jenny Johnson

Jenny Olivia Johnson
(781) 283-2078
B.A., Barnard College; M.M., Manhattan School of Music; Ph.D., New York University
JAC 220

Jenny Olivia Johnson

Associate Professor of Music

Composer, sound artist, and music scholar.

I am a composer and sound artist who also writes about music, memory, trauma, and synaesthesia.  My current interests include creating musical experiences that explore boundaries between multi-media installations and live performances; composing and producing concept albums designed for emotive listening within the intimate space of one’s headphones; and writing about the complexity of what it means to love musical works that were created in traumatic contexts, or by composers and performers with questionable ethics. 

My recent projects include Glass Heart:  Bells for Sylvia Plath, an interactive sound installation comprised of touch-sensitive bell jars, lighting, and fragments of original music inspired by Plath’s early prose.  Glass Heart was commissioned by and exhibited at the Davis Museum at Wellesley College in 2013, and is currently on display (until May 20, 2018) at the Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery in Washington D.C.  I also recently completed two solo albums, SYLVIA SONGS (forthcoming on Innova Recordings, May 2018) and DONT LOOK BACK (Innvoa Recordings, 2015), and collaborated with visual artist (and fellow Wellesley professor) Daniela Rivera on an 8-channel sound environment for her exhibition The Andes Inverted, which was on display at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston from February 2017-February 2018. 

I am currently at work on two large-scale projects:  a monograph entitled Music as Intolerable Desire, which examines music, sexuality, and abjection in the 20th century, and an experimental opera-installation (The After Time), which tells a fragmented story about the mysterious death of a college student and the resulting erotic entanglement of two women who are adjacently grieving her loss.

I studied music at Barnard College (BA 2000), Manhattan School of Music (MM 2002), and New York University, where I received my Ph.D. in 2009.  My work has been described as “gorgeous, ominous, and hypnotic” by the Boston Globe, “stunning in its simplicity and power” by the Boston Musical Intelligencer, “delicate” and “bold” by Mark Swed of the Los Angeles Times, “deeply moving and beautiful” by Brian Rosen of, and “iridescent, shimmering, and evocative” by Steve Smith, currently Director of Publications at National Sawdust. 

For more information, please visit my website: