St. Olaf College | News

Alumnus to bring his award-winning choral ensemble to campus

St. Olaf College alumnus Craig Hella Johnson ’84 (center) will bring his award-winning choral ensemble Conspirare to campus May 17 for a concert.

St. Olaf College will welcome alumnus Craig Hella Johnson ‘84 and his award-winning choral ensemble Conspirare to campus May 17 as part of their Minnesota and Canada tour Stephen Paulus: A Lyrical Life.

The concert, which begins at 7:30 p.m. in Boe Memorial Chapel, will be streamed and archived online.

The concert is a tribute to the late Stephen Paulus (1949-2014), a well-known composer from Minnesota, and will feature his work. Conspirare will perform Poemas de Amor — a five-movement Conspirare commission — and will perform for the first time Turn by Tarik O’Regan. Featured musicians include renowned pianist Faith Debow, percussionist Thomas Burritt, and the Minnesota Orchestra’s principal harpist Kathy Kienzle.

Read more about the tour in this Minnesota Public Radio preview.

Johnson began Conspirare in 1991 in Texas as the New Texas Festival celebrating classical music. Conspirare has received numerous awards, including the Best Choral Performance Grammy in 2015, and has become internationally recognized. The choir’s name comes from Latin and means “to breathe together.”

Johnson has guest conducted many other music ensembles both domestically and internationally, including the Austin Symphony and the San Antonio Symphony. He also serves as the music director of the Cincinnati Vocal Arts Ensemble and served as the director of choral activities at the University of Texas at Austin from 1990 to 2001, where he oversaw the choral conducting graduate program. He is an artist in residence at the Texas State University School of Music and speaks often at the American Choral Directors Association’s conferences.

In addition to conducting, Johnson also composes and arranges music. His arrangements and compositions have been published by G. Shirmer Publishing and Alliance Music Publications.

Johnson studied at the Juilliard School and the University of Illinois, and earned a doctorate at Yale University.