University of Wisconsin–Madison hires Johanna Wienholts


Johanna Wienholts has been appointed to the harp faculty at University of Wisconsin–Madison following the retirement of Karen Beth Atz this past spring. Principal harpist with the Madison Symphony Orchestra, Wienholts says, “The Mead Witter School of Music has an incredible faculty and I am so looking forward to learning from the other departments and enjoying what the university has to offer. Some of my favorite writers and thinkers have come out of UW-Madison, so it is a true honor to be a part of this educational community.”

Wienholts joins the department in the midst of a difficult time for colleges and universities. “It goes without saying that this school year is unlike anything we have seen before. UW–Madison will be doing classes primarily online but is permitting some in person instruction.” She shares that winds and brass courses are exclusively online, but the harp department will have in–person lessons with masks and social distancing. “We will be set up in large rehearsal rooms and will be moving online at Thanksgiving to avoid virus spread after the holiday break. In the absence of typical large ensembles, students will have orchestral projects online where they share excerpts with other instrumentalists.”

Reflecting on the state of the arts and the livelihoods of musicians in the midst of a pandemic, she says that she will prioritize the mental and physical health of her students. “We will be spending time doing yoga and breathwork in studio class to aid in ease of playing as well as ease of being. Not only does this movement help to avoid injury, it can help with performance anxiety and general stress.

“My vision for this program is inspired by my own teachers who have been so important to me as a harpist as well as many friends of mine who are calling for a much needed reorientation in the arts. I hope to balance a curriculum that features important, standard repertoire in addition to contemporary music and pieces written by BIPOC composers to better participate in a harp community that is inclusive, uplifting, and supportive. I am most looking forward to what comes out of these vibrant and thoughtful harpists and am grateful to share in this learning with them.”

Learn more about Wienholts by visiting her website at


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