Jeffry Blake Johnson, Artistic Director
Renaissance City Choirs Artistic Director Dr. Jeffry Blake Johnson has performed professionally as a conductor, singer, actor, pianist, harpsichordist, organist, and music teacher for over 30 years. His conducting credits feature numerous premieres as well as extensive work with contemporary and standard choral repertoire.
As a Visiting Assistant Professor, Dr. Johnson formerly served the West Virginia University as Interim Director of Choral Activities. He conducted several choirs and coordinated all the choral ensembles at WVU. In addition, he taught lessons and conducting/repertoire classes to undergraduate and graduate students. Currently, Dr. Johnson is an Adjunct Instructor at Washington & Jefferson College, where he teaches private voice and piano lessons.
Johnson received his Doctor of Musical Arts degree in conducting from West Virginia University in 2010, the Master of Music degree in vocal accompanying and harpsichord performance from Boston University in 1989, and the Bachelor of Science degree in piano and voice performance from William Jewell College in 1986. Also in 1986, he studied and performed as part of the Tanglewood Music Center as a vocal coach fellow.
His stage credits include numerous operatic tenor leading roles and several years performing with the national musical theatre touring company American Family Theatre in various leading and supporting roles. He has performed extensively as a piano accompanist throughout the United States, and has served numerous churches and synagogues as music director, pianist, organist, and service leader.
Photo: John Colombo Photography
William Larson, Accompanist
William Larson hails from Pittsburgh. He received a fellowship to the Tanglewood Music Center in 1989, and completed his graduate studies at the Peabody Institute of Johns Hopkins University in 1992. In addition to formal studies with Julian Martin (piano) and Samuel Sanders (accompanying), Larson has also worked with Leon Fleisher, Claude Frank, and Eugene List, among others. He studied composition with Joseph Willcox Jenkins, receiving feedback and encouragement from Morton Gould and Lukas Foss. His work as a collaborative pianist has included assisting Mstislav Rostropovich with preparing the premiere of Lorin Maazel’s Music for Violoncello and Orchestra in 1996.
Larson’s competition wins include the American Music Scholarship Association Young Artists Piano Competition, the Pittsburgh Concert Society major auditions, the Boston Conservatory Young Composer’s Competition and others. He has been featured on WQED-FM’s Arhaus Performance in Pittsburgh.
In addition to concerto performances with orchestras including the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra and the Cincinnati Symphony, Larson has performed as an orchestral keyboardist with the PSO, the Erie Philharmonic, the Edgewood Symphony Orchestra and the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra. Repertoire has included Messiaen’s Turangalila-Symphonie, Orff’s Carmina Burana, and many works by John Adams, with the composer conducting. He has played harpsichord continuo on Pitt’s Bach and Baroque series, and with the St. Vincent Camerata.
He has played harpsichord continuo on Pitt’s Bach and Baroque series, and with the St. Vincent Camerata. He has been Chorus Director/Principal Keyboardist for the Undercroft Opera company.
As a choir director and organist, Larson has served various churches in Baltimore and Pittsburgh. He is Director of Instrumental Music at the First Unitarian Church of Pittsburgh, and Accompanist for the Renaissance City Choirs.