Violinist Dawn Wohn developed her passion at a young age. Having an older sister who was playing piano at a local music school, she wanted to make music too. When she was only four years old, she received her first violin.
“I think I was about three when I saw the (end-of-semester) recital — and there were some kids that were playing the violin. I guess I said ‘Oh, that looks really fun’.”
Wohn has been performing with LunART since the spring of 2023, and is part of the LunART Chamber Collective.
“I don't think I've ever performed with a group that was specifically for women. At the first concert that I played with LunART, we talked about, ‘oh my gosh, we're all mothers’,” Wohn said when explaining the connection between the other female performers in LunART.
When it comes to being a woman in the arts, Wohn expresses how the employment system is not set up for creatives, but rather for those with regular 9-5 jobs.
“It can be really, really hard to keep your inspiration, and you still have to make money and you have to do all these things to be creative,” Wohn said.
As for projects, Wohn has created two albums titled “Unbounded” and “Perspective,” in which all of the pieces are composed by women. Right after the 2020 election, this was a difficult time for Wohn due to all of the events that were happening within the United States. She decided to take to her music in an effort to bring light to something good.
“I had some students, especially women, female-identifying students, and people of color that felt like they couldn't talk to anybody,” said Wohn, who is of Korean-American background. “They would come to me and often share their frustrations. It was hard, because I was also going through a lot of those (same) frustrations.”
For “Perspective,” she wanted to use this as an opportunity to help support women and people of color and bring light to female composers.
“The first album was ‘Perspective.’ They're all shorter pieces,” Wohn said. “Each work was selected and they're all from women in different cultures. There's an Indian-American composer who based a piece off of a lullaby that her grandma sang to her. There's a commissioned new piece by a Korean-American composer… so there's just a lot of different pieces.”
Along with incorporating a variety of pieces, Wohn also wanted to bring light to pieces that have possibly never been heard before.
“Especially, I wanted to highlight ones that were not published,” Wohn said. “There were a couple pieces that were not published before, and definitely a lot of them had not been recorded before.”
Outside of her work as a performer, she is a violin professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Wohn has had the opportunity to see the growth of many aspiring musicians.
“I think it's such a special relation, I do cherish that, I don't take that for granted,” Wohn said. “I get to know them really on an individual level, and they often will come to me with things that are outside of music, of course, just because they know that I will listen. I do find the students here to be just so kind. They're not competitive. They're super smart, but they're just very low key about it.”
When asked what advice she would give to young women who want to become violinists, she explains she would tell them what she would have told her younger self.
“I would say, worry less… negativity towards yourself is more harmful to creativity than helpful,” Wohn explained.
Check out Dawn Wohn’s recordings from both “Perspective” and “Unbounded” here!
Article by Ava Wojnowski
Ava Wojnowski is an intern with LunART. She is majoring in journalism and Spanish and is excited to bring her passion for writing to LunART. Outside of school, Wojnowski loves to spend time outside and also loves to listen to music. She played the viola from 4th to 12th grade, so music has always been a part of her life.