Erica Johnson

Music Performance Faculty in Organ and Harpsichord and College Organist


Erica Johnson is a Boston based keyboardist. She joined the faculty of Wellesley College as College Organist and Instructor in Organ and Harpsichord in 2019.  

My education in organ performance spans the roughly 500 years of repertoire in existence for this amazing instrument, although I do have particular affection for the music of the 17th century. The college’s unique organ in Houghton Chapel by C.B. Fisk in meantone temperament is the perfect instrument for understanding the expression of harmony and architecture of sound found in keyboard music through the early 18th century. One of my goals here at Wellesley is to make this organ sound as beautifully as possible to all who experience it in the chapel and to celebrate with the whole community what a treasure this instrument truly is. The Wellesley Organ Club is a fantastic way for students to learn about this instrument, how to pump the organ and how to play it. No prior experience with the organ is necessary – just a curiosity and love for the sound of the organ! Plus, you’ll learn the ins and outs of how to access the gilded spinning star, the Zimbelstern!
As an organ instructor I have taught at the UNC School of the Arts, Salem College, the Oberlin Conservatory, and I also designed and taught the graduate course in organ literature at the Eastman School of Music for two years during my doctoral studies. And, as a church musician, I served as Organ Scholar at the Memorial Church of Harvard University from 1999-2001 (accompanying the University Choir and playing for services), and I have held many church positions over the years. More recently I have been the Director of Liturgy and Music at Sacred Heart Parish in Newton Centre since 2017, and I freelance in churches around Boston. Judging organ competitions is another opportunity I enjoy. I have served on the panels for the Boston AGO Chapter Competition, the Arthur Poister Competition, and the Boston Bach International Organ Competition.
I graduated from the Oberlin Conservatory and Oberlin College (BM in organ and BA in economics), the New England Conservatory (MM), and the Eastman School of Music (DMA), studying with Haskell Thomson, William Porter, and Hans Davidsson. With a generous grant from the Beebe Fund for Musicians, I was able to study in North Germany for two years at the Hochschule für Musik in Bremen with Harald Vogel. Those years yielded two honors: the 2004 International Arp Schnitger Prize awarded by the Arp Schnitger Gesellschaft for promoting the legacy of the organ builder, and also two performance awards during the 2002 Norddeutsche Rundfunk (NDR) Musikpreis, held on the instruments in Basedow, Stade-St. Wilhadi, and Norden-Ludgerikirche.
My current performance goals include how to promote the music of female composers for the organ. I have performed several programs featuring only the music of women composers, and there is so much more beautiful music from these women that needs to be heard! When not sitting at the organ console, I enjoy spending time with my family, taking long walks, and seeking out ice cream vendors in beautiful locations.