Hailed as "prodigiously gifted" by Time Out New York, composer Jenny Olivia Johnson writes music that ranges from compressed 20-minute operas to epic pop songs to highly abstract religious masses. Her work is deeply influenced by minimalism, noise rock, and 80s pop songs and television, and she also draws a great deal of inspiration from her academic work on synaesthesia, acoustic memory, and childhood trauma. Her work has been lauded as "iridescent, shimmering, and evocative" by critic Steve Smith, and The Boston Globe recently described her chamber pop song "Dollar Beers (Redondo Beach '96)" as "hypnotically circl[cling] a slow, catchy pop-ballad progression, while soprano Lucy McVeigh intoned casually enigmatic lyrics…Johnson, who has studied music's role as a trigger for traumatic memories, conjured such echoes, acoustically and electronically layering the sound into a gorgeous and ominous haze."

Johnson has collaborated with such artists and ensembles as BMOP (Boston Modern Orchestra Project), Rhymes With Opera, ICE, Alarm Will Sound, the Asko|Schoenberg Ensemble, Ensemble Robot, Bang on a Can, the Arditti Quartet, orkest de ereprijs, Voices of Change, the Young People's Chorus of New York City, composer and singer Corey Dargel, organist Maxine Thevenot, flutist Janet McKay, soprano Megan Schubert, and New York City Opera, who performed two of her short operas at their VOX Contemporary Opera festivals in 2006 and 2007. Johnson is also a drummer, most recently active with Winter Company (a laptop/percussion duo with composer Paula Matthusen), and indie rock band RENMINBI.

Johnson's honors and awards include the NYU Dean's Dissertation Fellowship (2008-09), an ASCAP Morton Gould Young Composer Award (2006), two CAP grants from the American Music Center (2006, 2007), the Prix de Composition from the Conservatoire Americain de Fontainebleau (2004), and an Honorable Mention for the 2007 Lise Waxer Prize from the Society for Ethnomusicology. She has held artist residencies at the Atlantic Center for the Arts (2005, 2008) and the Banff Centre for the Arts (2008), and was recently a finalist for the 2008 Gaudeamus Prize.

Upcoming projects include a multi-media commission from recorder player Terri Hron, a new work for soprano Lucy McVeigh and cellist David Russell, and collaborations with flutist Janet McKay, pianist Isabelle O'Connell, and cellist Peter Gregson.

In May 2009, Johnson completed her PhD in music composition and theory at New York University, and she also holds degrees from Manhattan School of Music and Barnard College at Columbia University. Since Fall 2009, Johnson has been an assistant professor of composition and theory at Wellesley College, where she also teaches courses related to her academic interests in music and philosophy, psychoanalysis, and psychology.


Distler Performance Hall at Tufts University | December 12, 2010
Houghton Chapel at Wellesley College | December 11, 2010
Studzinski Recital Hall at Bowdoin College | December 10, 2010

News and Press

[Concert Review] BMOP's Luminous Noise at Wellesley

The Boston Modern Orchestra Project, Gil Rose, conductor, is in residence this year at Wellesley College and presenting three concerts, of which the first, entitled, “Luminous Noise: Three Women Compose,” was presented on Saturday, December 11, at the Houghton Chapel. The acoustics there have always been excellent — the venue is often used for recording projects — and continue to be so after the recent renovation. This concert was one of three performances of the same program at Bowdoin College and Tufts University on this same weekend.

The Boston Musical Intelligencer Full review
[Concert Review] Women's works illuminated by Boston Modern Orchestra Project

A chamber-size contingent of the Boston Modern Orchestra Project and director Gil Rose visited Wellesley College on Saturday (part of a weekend tour that also stopped at Bowdoin College and Tufts University) with an all-female-composer program called “Luminous Noise.” Such a deliberate spotlight is, hopefully, not quite the necessary corrective to a predominantly male compositional culture that it would have been all too recently, but it still invited consideration of what it does — and does not — mean to be a female composer in the world of classical music.

The Boston Globe Full review
[News Coverage] BMOP to perform modern classical compositions tonight

Performing numerous modern compositions of the 20th century, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP), under the direction of Gil Rose, will make its first ever appearance on the Bowdoin campus today in Studzinski Recital Hall, where the orchestra will perform the first program of a three-part series.

Since 1996, BMOP has been producing and performing contemporary compositions, especially at Jordan Hall at the New England Conservatory.

The Bowdoin Orient Full review
[Press Release] Tufts University Department of Music presents "Luminous Noise" – a concert by BMOP

As part of the Sundays at Tufts–Community Concert Series, Boston Modern Orchestra Project – the premier orchestra in the United States dedicated exclusively to commissioning, performing, and recording new orchestral music – will launch a brand new concert series to be co-hosted by Tufts University on Sunday, December 12, 2010 at 3 p.m. in the Distler Performance Hall of the Perry and Marty Granoff Music Center on the Tufts' Medford/Somerville campus.

Full review
[Press Release] Boston Modern Orchestra Project presents "Luminous Noise: Three Women Compose"

On Saturday, Dec. 11, at 8 pm, the Boston Modern Orchestra Project (BMOP) kicks off a three-concert performance series at Wellesley College with "Luminous Noise: Three Women Compose," featuring works by Chen Yi, Judith Weir and Jenny Olivia Johnson, three of the most dynamic female composers creating new orchestral works today. The performance, held at Houghton Chapel, is free and open to the public.

Full review