Composer Profile: Craig Hella Johnson

by Alissa Ruth, School Choral Music Specialist

craig-hella-johnsonCraig Hella Johnson is celebrated as one of today’s most influential choral conductors. He is perhaps best known as the Grammy®-winning founder and Artistic Director of the choral group Conspirare, an award-winning ensemble that works to present choral music in fresh, imaginative ways. He is also currently the director of VAE Cincinnati, an auditioned choir dedicated to keeping choral music present in the Cincinnati community.

As a conductor, Johnson is known for his unique programming in his “signature ‘collage’ style: through-composed programs that marry music and poetry to blend sacred and secular, classical and contemporary, traditional and popular styles.” I get excited when I see a piece with his name on it because I know that it uses the same creativity he utilizes in his programming to present the piece in an inventive way. One of my favorites, in particular, is his arrangement of Dolly Parton’s “Light of a Clear Blue Morning.” It maintains the same emotional energy of the original, but is perfectly adapted for choral singing.

The music of Craig Hella Johnson is available through G. Schirmer and Alliance Music Publishing companies.

Stanton’s Recommends: Light of a Clear Blue Morning and Let the River Run

About the Author:
Alissa Ruth began working at Stanton’s in the summer of 2016. She is a former middle and high school choir director and holds a Bachelor of Music in Education degree from Capital University. She is an active choral singer in the Columbus area, and spends her free time running, doing yoga, cooking, and watching Netflix.

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