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New Music Magic

Residents of the Short North since 1986, Jack and Zoe Johnstone have seen the revitalization of the neighborhood firsthand—and have proudly been involved in many of the efforts to capitalize on its charm.

“We’ve traveled all over the world and lived overseas—this neighborhood just has so many fantastic qualities,” Jack said. “No neighborhood in the world is better than this.”

Both originally from the West Coast, the couple, married 41 years, met at San Jose State University. While Jack’s undergraduate degree was in mathematics, his love for medieval musicology brought the couple to Columbus in 1979 so Jack could get his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University.

Music is a passion for both Jack and Zoe. Zoe is an accomplished pianist, and Jack grew up playing violin and classical guitar. Over the years, through two funds at The Columbus Foundation, the John G. and Zoe Johnstone Fund and the Johnstone Fund for New Music, the couple has supported local nonprofits and created opportunities to introduce the public to new music at venues like Short North Stage.

We both believe that giving close to home is the best thing. You can’t fix all the world’s problems, but you can start in your neighborhood.

— Zoe Johnstone

Recognizing there was a gap in central Ohio for promoting new music, the couple set out to offer fellow musicians the chance to showcase works that might not otherwise come to Columbus.

“New music is not accessible to most people, but once they experience it, it comes to life,” Zoe said. “That’s what we do—we are empowering people to listen to this music and fall in love with it.”


Jack and Zoe Johnstone in front of their Short North home.

Fund Name

Johnstone Fund for New Music



Donor Advised Fund