The David Johnson Chorus Wins Three Silver Awards at the World Choir Games

The David Johnson Chorus, based in Dresden, won three Silver Diploma awards at the World Choir Games this past weekend in Cincinnati, Ohio, establishing the Northwest Tennessee choral group as among the best in the nation — and the world.
DJC took the Silver awards in all three categories in which it competed: Mixed Chorus (male and female), Folklore and Musica Sacra (sacred music) during awards ceremonies Saturday night and Sunday morning at the U.S. Bank Arena in downtown Cincinnati. Bronze, silver and gold “diplomas” or “medals” were awarded, depending on each group’s competition track. DJC competed in the Open Competition.
Accepting the awards on behalf of the chorus were DJC Director David Johnson of McKenzie and General Manager Gail Dyer of Dresden. They joined representatives from 361 other choral groups and 67 countries on the arena floor as about 15,000 chorus members cheered them on from the stands.
For DJC Director David Johnson, the whole experience is hard to capture in words.
“Trying to capture emotion with words is such a difficult thing to do. It was amazing to hear singing that was so close to perfection that it didn’t seem possible it was human voices. We watched performances that were done entirely in a foreign language, but you could still understand the message because they were so adept at expressing themselves through their body language and the subtlety of their music,” he said.
The record, triple-digit temperatures also followed DJC to the WCG, but the chorus was undaunted.
“In spite of the oppressive heat (heat indexes of 110), everyone we met had smiles and laughter. There was a sense of camaraderie that permeated the World Choir Games,” Johnson said.
DJC General Manager Gail Dyer was also touched by that spirit.
“I think one of the most amazing encounters for me was talking with other choral directors and managers. Standing in line for one of the processions during the Awards Ceremony allowed time to talk with the Nigerian representatives. Regardless of broken English, we left WCG with two new friends who, with open arms, truly await the day we can visit and perform in their country. The story repeated itself more than once with other countries. It was a Day of Pentecost,” she said.
“The silver diplomas are confirmation that we are ‘ok,’ and they are oh so welcomed and exciting, yet the connections we made with audiences and choral members from around the world is priceless and has touched us in a way we will never forget.”
DJC President Tom Reavis of Dresden called the whole experience wonderfully “surreal.”
“For me, WCG was a surreal experience. I just couldn’t believe that we were there and competing with people from countries all over the world. I noticed that we were the same, yet different in culture. Music seems to be the tie that binds people. The notes are the same in every language. What a wonderful experience for all of us,” he said.
“The literally thousands of hours of practice time paid off in winning the three Silver Diplomas. It was truly a team effort. I truly appreciate all of our members and especially the direction of David Johnson and the tireless efforts of our general manager, Gail Dyer.”
As excited and humbled as David Johnson was about the three Silver awards, he brought home something even more valuable from his week in Cincinnati.
“For some, the competition may have been the main focus of their being there. But not for me. For me, it was about having the opportunity to share: share music, share smiles, develop friendships. And we certainly accomplished all three,” Johnson said. “Our performance venues ranged from the ornate Aranoff Center to singing to a shuttle-bus driver while being transported from point A to point B.”
DJC’s zeal for performing for an audience of one or 1,000 has become the hallmark of the regional touring chorus. That was never more evident as it performed two Friendship (non-competition) Concerts in Cincinnati. One was at Fountain Square, and the other was at mall, Kenwood Towne Center, in the outskirts. More than 2,000 were at each venue, and their response was wildly enthusiastic.
The World Choir Games continue this week with show choirs and other ensemble groups competing, including barbershop groups. The city of Cincinnati has been transformed into a true Olympic Village with WCG signage everywhere and a vast network of more than 4,000 volunteers who work 16-hour days to provide directions, bottled water and support for their 15,000 visitors from around the world.
DJC alto Jeanie Nanney from Dresden was so impressed by the hospitality and organization of the folks from Cincy.
“My hat is off to the city of Cincinnati for hosting this incredible event. They offered the key to their city to virtual strangers from around the world so that we were able to experience the magic of music on an international scale. Not every city in America could have mastered this massive undertaking in such grand style. On behalf of all those who love music, thank you from the bottom of our hearts!” she said.
The folks in Cincinnati hosted the very first WCG in the United States. It is held every two years and has previously been held in Austria, China, Germany and South Korea. In 2014, it will be held in Riga, Latvia.
After the DJC tour bus pulled back into the familiar environs of “home” for the 33 weary but inspired chorus members Sunday evening, David Johnson’s thoughts turned to the hundreds of folks back home who joined us in a virtual way.
“It was especially exciting to know that our fans were following us so closely on our Facebook page. We had thousands of ‘visitors’ who were eager to keep up with our trip. We appreciate so much all of those who are supportive of DJC, whether it is through their financial assistance or just through words of encouragement. We felt like they were right there with us.”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s