The choral world has lost quite a few giants in the past few months: John Scott, Kenneth Jennings, Helen Kemp, and Sir David WIllcocks. Memories shared with these giants will be indelibly sketched on the hearts and minds of thousands of choristers from around the world.
One chorister in particular, Craig Hella Johnson, was an aspiring pianist and conductor at St. Olaf College, where he began his journey with Kenneth Jennings. "I was passionately conducting one of my first times up in front of the class, and he grabbed my arm in a very sensitive way and said, 'Craig, you actually have to look at the people...' Craig countered, "I'm just a pianist, I'm used to looking at these white and black notes." Now Johnson's response to Dr. Jennings' feedback wasn't snarky, but more of a transparent, honest admission. Fast forward a few years and one could argue that Craig Hella Johnson has become one of the world's most beloved conductors to collaborate with; partially because of his unique ability to connect deeply with his singers. That skill, that gift, began being refined and cultivated by one of his first choral mentors, Dr. Kenneth Jennings.
Many of us have gathered cherished memories like these from our choral experiences over the years. This cascade of loss in the choral community reminded me of one thing. We need to share stories like Craig's as much as possible and bring the giants the roses while they live.
To hear the complete story about Craig Hella Johnson's relationship with Kenneth Jennings and a musical tribute in this week's episode of Sing to Inspire, click the audio player above.
#SingToInspire Performance of the Week
Autumn Flowers - Gordon Binkerd
Craig Hella Johnson, conductor
#SingToInspire Picture of the Week
#SingToInspire Video of the Week
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