Apr 26 2012
Music has always been a part of Angie Johnson’s life. An aspiring pianist even before she started elementary school, she continued to study the instrument while a student at Northern Illinois University.
After graduating in 1991 with a bachelor’s degree in music education, Johnson went on to teach choral and general music in Yorkville and Naperville middle schools. In 1999, she became a director for Young Naperville Singers, which has grown to include eight choirs and more than 300 singers.
Johnson, 42, currently inspires area youth as the artistic director and as the conductor of the organization’s most advanced choir, the Chamber Singers.
“I love so many things about my job that it would be difficult to choose one (favorite part),” said Johnson. “I absolutely love teaching young people and seeing them learn, grow and develop, both as singers and as a community.”
Esther Cook, Young Naperville Singers choir administrator, said Johnson’s passion for music and children has been her guiding force, and she is “truly an inspiration to all who know her.”
“Her musical expertise and enthusiasm are contagious and each person, young or old, can’t help but be inspired by her,” Cook said. “With Angie as artistic director, Young Naperville Singers has continued to grow and prosper. During a challenging economy, when most children’s choirs have seen a drop in membership, our numbers are strong. Much of this can be attributed to the atmosphere cultivated by Angie.”
Cook said Johnson constantly strives to offer their singers “new and exciting opportunities,” such as working with renowned composers, attending festivals and premiering new choral works.
When not directing or conducting clinics, including one last month in Singapore, Johnson and her husband, Darrin, are busy raising Joel, 8, Jenna, 10, and Jared, 13. All three children play piano, and Jenna is in her fourth season with Young Naperville Singers.
A resident of Montgomery, Johnson is an active member of the youth ministry program at Harvest Chapel in Sandwich, and enjoys reading, and of course, music.
- What is your favorite part of being the artistic director?
I love the visionary and organizational aspects of my job. Dreaming with my team and brainstorming new ways to reach and impact young people is a fascinating and exciting process. I am fortunate to work with an amazing artistic staff who shares my passion for musical excellence and loving young people. Together, we are watching Young Naperville Singers experience incredible growth both numerically and musically.
- What do you think makes a student a talented singer?
Musical talent varies from singer to singer and is definitely a gift. However, I think it is far more important to teach our young people to use the voice that they have in the best way they can. Hard workers who apply what they learn will experience amazing progress. The aspect of singing on a team is stressed, and building community and appreciation for one another is a major part of our program.
- Why are the arts important for today’s youth?
In this day and age of busy schedules, academic pressure to succeed, and all that our culture throws at our young people, it is so important that they have a place to belong, to feel accepted and to express themselves. Our young people need to engage in the arts to feed not only their mind but also their soul. Singing is a beautiful escape from daily stress and enables our singers to cope better. In addition, the research continues to pile up that supports the fact that musical study improves academic test scores, creativity, the ability to work in a team, self-confidence, organizational skills and much more.
- Do you have an experience at Young Naperville Singers that stands out above the rest?
Some of my favorite moments happen when we go on tour, from watching the group break out in spontaneous song, to the looks on their faces when they sing in stunning places such as Carnegie Hall. These are moments that you cannot manipulate but they happen naturally when a group experiences the type of community that singing provides.
- What would most people be surprised to learn about you?
I shy away from being on stage. Being on stage is the least favorite part of my job. I definitely pursued this career out of a love for young people and the joy of teaching.