The Elliot M. and Klara Stockdal Johnson Chair in Church Music was established in 1986 by Klara Johnson ’38 to recognize the role of music in the life of the church and the continued strong interest in St. Olaf by her family and her late husband. Klara Johnson’s father and three sisters also graduated from St. Olaf; Elliot Johnson, graduated from Shattuck Academy in Faribault, attended college in California, and then returned to Minneapolis where he had a long career in real estate investments and participated actively in the life of Central Lutheran Church. Dr. John Ferguson was the first holder of this chair.
James E. Bobb joined the St. Olaf faculty in 2012 after acquiring more than 20 years of experience directing church music in Lutheran and United Church of Christ congregations.
Bobb served as Minister of Music at First Congregational Church, Columbus, Ohio from 2009-2012. He taught organ and organ literature at Capital University in Columbus, following 15 years of service to the Lutheran Church of the Incarnate Word in Rochester, New York. He served as artistic director for the Rochester Bach Festival, an instructor in Sacred Music at the Eastman School of Music, Adjunct Professor of Organ at Nazareth College, and a chapter dean of the American Guild of Organists.
He regularly composes or improvises music for weekly worship and directs the 96-voice St. Olaf Cantorei in concerts, worship services, and the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival. Bobb earned performer’s certificates and master’s degrees in organ and harpsichord performance and literature from the Eastman School of Music.