First-Year Makes Musical Splash on TU’s Campus

by Alex Keys

Musician Hannah Johnson has already begun to make quite an impression on campus.

A first-year at Transylvania, Johnson began her musical career when she was 5 years old. At that age, she first saw Itzhak Perlman play his violin on an episode of “Sesame Street” and was immediately inspired to pick the instrument up.

“I said, ‘Mom, I want to play violin,’ and she said, ‘OK,’ so I started taking lessons,” Johnson said.

As a violinist, Johnson played in the Central Kentucky Youth Orchestra during elementary and middle school, and she went on to join the School for the Creative and Performing Arts at Lafayette High School as a string major. Even as she gained interest in several different styles of music, Johnson thoroughly enjoyed her training in violin.

“It’s really cool to be able to re-create music that somebody wrote a long time ago but is still an enriching experience for the performer and the audience,” Johnson said.
However, even before she first picked up a violin, Johnson had a passion for music.

“When I was a little kid, I made up so many songs that my mom would ask me to stop,” said Johnson.

Even though she had been singing her entire life, she did not join a chorus until she attended SCAPA. Still, Johnson performed well, earning places in the All-State choir and in solo and ensemble competitions.

“Choir was my favorite part of high school,” said Johnson.

When she was accepted into Transy, Johnson decided she would only have time to participate in one musical ensemble. After years of playing in string ensembles, she made the tough decision to stay in choir.

“As a soloist I would rather play violin,” said Johnson, “but in an ensemble I prefer to sing with a choir.”

However, Johnson has not given up on her violin. Since starting at Transy, she has begun to improvise in jam sessions with various musicians that she runs across.

“It’s very different,” said Johnson. “Up until this point I’ve been completely classically trained, but this music is folk-inspired, so you loosen up those restrictions, and it is more emotional than technical.”

So far, Johnson has performed with folk groups in Back Circle and on stage at Cosmic Charlie’s.

She has also kept busy as a vocal performer.

“I was looking to involve myself in music at Transy, and opportunities kept presenting themselves to me, so I thought, ‘Why not?’ ” Johnson said.

In addition to singing the part of alto in the Transylvania Choir and Madrigal Singers, Johnson auditioned for the role of first tenor in the a cappella group Formerly Known
As, which has traditionally been composed of men, and was accepted into the group.

“I’m sure lots of people think it’s weird (that I’m in FKA)” said Johnson, “but it’s just a big group of friends that make music together. And I could sing the part.”

In addition to the regularly scheduled choir concerts, Johnson will be performing in Transy on Broadway’s production of “[title of show],” which is set for May 5, 6 and 7 at 7:30 p.m., and at Formerly Known As’ annual May Term Show on May 22 at 3:00 p.m.


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