A funny moment in rehearsal
One year a rehearsal fell on my birthday. As a gift, I asked my singers to perform a silly choral arrangement of Smash Mouth’s ‘All Star’ for a video to put up on YouTube. That video now has over half a million views, which we certainly did not expect! C4 yourself – video below:
What is your audition process?
We ask for ~16 bars of a capella solo singing, do some vocalizing, and some brief sight singing.
What is something you do in rehearsals that surprises new members?
We’re actually pretty collaborative in rehearsals; if something especially challenging comes to light while practicing a piece, I’ll poll the singers for solutions, which often times yields better results than if I had kept mulling it over myself. It also encourages C4 members to be problem solving musicians.
A favorite inspirational quote
“There is no such beauty as where you belong.” – Michael Dennis Browne, The Road Home
How does your choir bond as a group?
We have an active group chat for keeping up with each other’s lives, inviting each other to parties and outings, or just sending each other silly memes we find on the internet. We also love going out to group meals after rehearsals.
A turning point in the life of your choir?
A few years ago, we began scheduling annual collaborative concerts with other performing arts organizations around Indy. It’s been so rewarding to perform with the Northminster Presbyterian choirs, Butler University singers, and to perform at the Irvington Halloween Festival. We can’t wait to see who we’ll collaborate with next!
An emotional moment you had in a performance?
This past December, we dedicated a performance of Pentatonix’s ‘Light in the Hallway’ to those struggling with mental illness – something that many silently deal with, especially during the holidays.
A favorite piece of repertoire & why
We were all really taken with Michael Barrett and Ralf Schmitt’s arrangement of ‘Indodana’. It was for sure a group favorite for us this past season. The music itself is repetitive and simple, but the dynamic scope of the piece gets really emotional.
Choir Madness: something you do with your choir that others might find bizarre or strange!
Our fabulous assistant director, Kelly Cassady, is an expert baker (check out her blog!) and brings a homemade dessert or pastry to just about every single rehearsal! We make good guinea pigs for her to try out new recipes.
A juicy fact about a composer/arranger you love to tell your choir members
Leonard Bernstein was issued a formal warning from the FBI for content in his Mass setting.
What was a very special performance and what made it special?
The choir had to privilege to perform Harriet Steinke’s ‘She Walks in Beauty’, a piece that several of us gave the premiere performance of when we all attended Butler University together some years ago. Harriet is a dear friend to many of us in the choir, and her music is uniquely moving and beautiful, so it was a special treat to bring to our audience.
An emotional moment in rehearsal?
This group is so tight-knit, and many singers have been with the choir since it first began in 2015 – so when any of our members end up taking jobs or opportunities far away, it’s always emotional to say goodbye to them. We hope they know they will always be a part of the C4 family.
A challenging performance and how you faced it.
I selected several challenging contemporary pieces by Stephen Leek and Ted Hearne for the choir for one summer concert. The pieces were more difficult than anything the singers had tried before, but it all came together beautifully and our audience loved the music. I think the choir now feels more comfortable approaching challenging music.
Doug Johnson received his MM from Butler University where he studied conducting with Dr. Eric Stark and Dr. John Perkins. He currently serves as the Assistant Director of Choral Activities at Earlham College, where he is now preparing combined choirs for Leonard Bernstein’s Mass. He also directed the choir for the Richmond Symphony Orchestra’s performance of Holst’s The Planets at Richmond Civic Hall in addition to preparing Earlham Choirs for collaborative performances with the Anderson University Chorale and Heartland Sings! Doug has led C4 through four performance seasons and has programmed and conducted hallmark chamber choral works including Aaron Copland’s Four Motets, Benjamin Britten’s Rejoice in the Lamb, and JS Bach’s BWV 4 Christ lag in Todesbanden and BWV 225 Singet dem Herrn.