Johanna Burnheart (/ˈjɒhʌnnʌ/ pron. yo-HUN-na) is a German violinist, singer and composer.
After studying classical violin, piano and voice during childhood, Johanna’s musical focus developed into jazz. Rather than following the path expected of a classical violinist, she chose instead to pursue the music that was her passion.
The violin is still a rare instrument in the jazz world, so Johanna finds herself within a niche of a niche. Her playing does not reflect the traditional approach to jazz violin made famous by players such as Stéphane Grapelli or Stuff Smith but is rather inspired by the horn giants of the modal jazz genre.
Much of her life has been spent absorbed in the Berlin sound of the techno & house scene resulting in this certain influence permeating her compositions. Johanna’s work exists at the point where modal jazz and techno meet. This is an ever developing venture as technology allows the acoustic sound of the violin to come alive electronically without compromises.
Inspired by a diverse spectrum of teachers and influences, Johanna’s education has been multifaceted. From early beginnings at a music school in Northern Germany to becoming a “Specialist Musician” at the prestigious Wells Cathedral School, Johanna went on to participate in summer jazz programmes at Berklee College of Music in Boston, Dublin and the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London. This total immersion into jazz at this point provided the impetus for her to change genres definitively.
Upon this new path, Johanna spent two years in Berlin studying with some of Germany’s most renowned jazz musicians, with monthly trips to Paris for lessons with Didier Lockwood at his jazz school. Her love for the Berlin clubs and the music they represent was manifested during this time, forming the foundation of her current musical style.
In 2013, she enrolled at the Guildhall School of Music and Drama in London as the first jazz violin undergraduate student of the school. The timing was perfect; jazz in London was just on the verge of exploding into the kaleidoscopic scene that it is today.
Notable performances since her return to the UK were the Women’s Day concert with Tomorrow’s Warriors “Nu Civilisation Orchestra” debuting Yazz Ahmed’s Polyhymnia suite at Queen Elizabeth Hall in 2015, playing support for Pharoah Sanders at Ronnie Scott’s with Rosie Turton in 2018 and a tribute show to the Blue Note Label at Queen Elizabeth Hall for the EFG London Jazz Festival 2019 in collaboration with Total Refreshment Centre.
Past collaborations include Maisha, Yazz Ahmed, Jazz Jamaica, the BBC Concert Orchestra, Kinkajous, Teotima, Susheela Raman and Nardeydey.
As well as being a regular member of Rosie Turton’s band, Johanna joined the up and coming London Garage Orchestra in 2019 and toured UK festivals with both projects that year including Glastonbury Festival, Boomtown Fair, Love Supreme, Jazz Re:Fest and Brainchild. Since 2021 she has been a member of the German crossover project Detect Ensemble with whom she performed with Christian Löffler at Philharmonie de Paris and Elbphilharmonie among others.
Since forming her own band “Burnheart” at the end of 2018, Johanna has performed at jazz re:freshed, Spice of Life, Jazz in the Round, Brainchild Festivals, jazz re:fest 2021 and the Jazz Café with this project; the latter being an event presented by jazz re:freshed called “The Sounds of 2020”.
The “Burnheart” debut album was released on Ropeadope Records on October 30th 2020 and is available on all platforms. Most recently Johanna released a remix EP called “Burnheart Remixed” with remixes from Acid Pauli, Beth Lydi, Nesa Azadikhah and Pilo Adami as an homage to her love for techno and how it influenced her debut record.
Johanna's current projects are:
Johanna appears on the following records:
in chronological order
— Wabi-Sabi Orchestra, released with Traumton Records
— Bosse, released with Universal Music
— Vincent Long & the Convincers, released independently
— Dunkelgold fka Drejs Quintet, released with QFTF records
— Maisha, released with Brownswood Records
— Rosie Turton Quintet, released with jazz:refreshed
— Teotima, released with First Word Records
— Kinkajous, released with Running Circles
— Yazz Ahmed, released with Ropeadope
— Rosie Turton, released independently
by Seb JJ Peters
by Seb JJ Peters
© Cleo Valentine
by Seb JJ Peters