Johnson

Robert Clifford (BJ) Johnson 1948–2019 Northfield—Robert Clifford Johnson (BJ) was born on July 16, 1948, in Alexandria, Minnesota to parents Ruth Fowlds Johnson and Clifford Conrad Johnson. He died on October 16th, 2019 in Northfield, Minnesota, with his family at his side after living with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS aka Lou Gehrig's disease). BJ graduated from Jefferson High School in 1966 and continued his education at Concordia College in Moorhead. Upon graduation in 1971 he married Sigrid Nelson in Bismarck, North Dakota. Together they moved to Monticello, Minnesota, where he taught public school music while Sigrid pursued a Bachelor of Music degree at St. Cloud State University. Upon completion of her degree in 1974, they moved to Ann Arbor, Michigan, where Sigrid pursued graduate studies in vocal performance at the University of Michigan and earned a Master of Music degree. BJ worked at the university at the University Musical Society, the largest university concert series at the time. In 1978, BJ was hired by St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, to manage the college's music organizations, a great opportunity in the field of arts administration. His office was responsible for arranging domestic and international tours; facilitating the technical production of the internationally renowned St. Olaf Christmas Festival; and overseeing the commercial recording business (St. Olaf Records). Under his leadership 30 international concert tours by the St. Olaf Choir, St. Olaf Band and St. Olaf Orchestra in addition to annual domestic concert tours were successfully undertaken by these ensembles. The St. Olaf Christmas Festival has been a college annual holiday concert since 1912. First broadcast on television in 1975, the St. Olaf Christmas Festival has been a featured highlight of the holiday season on PBS since 1983 because of BJ's collaborative efforts with Twin Cities Public Television. In 2005 and 2013, BJ was the catalyst in creating the two television Christmas specials that the St. Olaf Choir filmed at the Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway. Also because of his entrepreneurial vision, the 2007 and 2011 St. Olaf Christmas Festivals were streamed live in theaters throughout the United States. In 1990 the College Music Tour Managers Association was founded by a group of college and university tour managers mainly from the Lutheran touring tradition but also came to include both religious and non religious schools. The initial founding and development of the organization came about with encouragement led by BJ Johnson, the then manager of music organizations at St. Olaf College. CMTMA's first conference was held in 1990 at St. Olaf College and continues to be a vital force in arts management today. Annual membership varies each year between 30-40 schools and other arts organizations with over 100 organizations having participated over the years. In 2014, Johnson was honored with an Emmy Award by the Upper Midwest Emmy Awards for his role in the PBS production of Christmas in Norway with the St. Olaf Choir filmed in Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim, Norway. Johnson was awarded the ACE award for lifetime achievement by the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) of Minnesota in 2015. In 2018 he was inducted into the Hall of Fame by the Alexandria School District in recognition and honor for significant distinction and achievement in arts administration at St. Olaf College. Johnson is survived by his wife of 48 years, Sigrid (Nelson) Johnson, sons Peter Johnson, and Andrew Johnson (Sarah) and grandsons Soren Meilan, and Halvor Clifford, all of whom reside in the Twin Cities. He is also survived by a sister Karen Elizabeth Johnson of Maple Grove, Minnesota. He was preceded in death by his parents and sister Jane Huhn. A memorial service will be held at Boe Memorial Chapel, Sunday, October 27th at 2:00pm. He is interred at Oaklawn Cemetery in Northfield. In keeping with BJ's commitment to providing St. Olaf student ensembles with the finest performance venues during concert tours, the family has requested that memorials be given to the Sigrid and Robert "BJ" Johnson Endowed Fund, established for that purpose. St. Olaf College, 1520 St. Olaf Ave., Northfield, MN 55057, Attn: Development Office www.northfieldfuneral.com

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