Uniters, Not Dividers

Craig Hella Johnson has assembled a distinguished panel of presenters and composers for the festival. Here's what makes them exceptional, in his words:

Rob Kapilow, composer, founder of the Lincoln Center What Makes It Great? series: "Inspired musician, great composer. One of the most inspired teachers, just a sparkling teacher. He's really carrying the next-generation of Leonard Bernstein-style teaching."Presentation #1: Crossing the Divide: Translate, Friday, Jan. 26, 9:45am. Riverbend Fellowship Hall; Presentation #7: The Samuel Barber Reincarnations: What Makes It Great, Saturday, Jan. 27, 11am, St. Matthew's Sanctuary

Joseph Jennings of Chanticleer: "Extraordinary music-maker. His primary focus is going to be on the African-American spiritual, talking about the roots of that in this oppressed culture and the amazing, soaring spirit that one senses in the spirituals." Presentation #2: Crossing Cultural and Artistic Borders, Friday, Jan. 26, 11am, Riverbend Fellowship Hall

Weston Noble: "Choral nobility. He's in his eighties now and a real father of American choral music and a cappella choral singing. He was with the Nordic Choir for many years. He's just a beloved, cherished choral conductor and human being." Presentation #3: Uncovering Beauty, Friday, Jan. 26, 1:30pm, St. Matthew's Sanctuary; Presentation #6: Crossing the Divide Between Performer and Audience Through Vulnerability and Intimacy, Saturday, Jan. 27, 9:45am, St. Matthew's Sanctuary

Henry Leck, children's choir specialist: "A really beautiful musician who also happens to be widely known as one of the great choral teachers for children." Music Educator Workshop, Saturday, Jan. 27, 10am, First Presbyterian Church, Rissmann Hall

Stephen Paulus, composer, founder of the Minnesota Composers Forum: "A tireless champion for composers in this country. He's written a wonderful work for Conspirare that the chamber ensemble will premiere at the Saturday showcase concert." Presentation #5: Exploring the Divide Between Composer, Performance, and the Audience, Friday, Jan. 26, 4pm, St. Matthew's Sanctuary

Mark Shapiro, conductor of Cantori New York: "A fantastic musician and a beautiful conductor. He, I think, is one of the boldest programmers of choral music in this country. Mark just puts it out there. He's commissioning things on a regular basis. He finds composers' works – good works – that have not had a second or third hearing. He's going to do a literature session." Presentation #4: Music: A Human Universal, Friday, Jan. 26, 2:45pm, St. Matthew's Sanctuary

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