One way Conspirare shares the power of choral music is through Craig Hella Johnson’s teaching and conducting. Recently, Johnson served as the conductor for the Texas Two Year All-State Choir; an auditioned choir made up of students from 2-year colleges across Texas. This choir is part of the annual Texas Music Educators Association Convention.

Nick Robertson, a freshman at Alvin Community College, says the experience was life-changing and reminded him that music is more than just theory and technique.

“This past year has been really hard for me,” he wrote to Craig after they met. “On May 18th, 2018, a shooter entered a classroom at my high school and killed 10 of my fellow classmates.”

“After the shooting I had trouble looking for answers, for peace, closure even. I turned to God, friends, political activism, therapy, and just anything I could do to use that experience to grow as a person and potentially make a difference. I still felt an emptiness inside. Almost a feeling of guilt. How am I supposed to go on with my life when 10 others can’t?”

“The answer is by spreading love and positivity. Us musicians are in a unique position to do that. We can spread love around the world through our music. Through this beautiful thing that everyone can be a part of and relate to. I feel like I’ve grown as a person just in the last week.” 

The Two-Year College All-State Choir performed “All of Us,” an original composition from Craig Hella Johnson’s oratorio “Considering Matthew Shepard.” Listen now. Nick is pictured above next to Craig (left), along with fellow all-state choir students.

Susan Fernandez, a voice teacher at Austin Community College brought several students to the event. “ I watched as Craig took the choir from good to great to spectacular in 3 days, through his gentle, loving expertise mixed with nitty gritty hard work, all wrapped up with charm and humor.” She reports that when the concert was over, the students surrounded Craig, crying tears of gratitude, and requesting hugs, selfies, and autographs. “It’s hard to put into words Craig’s enormous impact… but it was a life-changing experience for these students.”