Ames Chamber Artists name new director

For the fifth time in its 28-year history, the Ames Chamber Artists have named a new director. David W. Johnson will take over the baton for the 2016-2017 season, replacing James Rodde who stepped down at the end of the 2015-16 season after 10 years as director.

Johnson currently serves as Director of Music Ministry at Faith Lutheran Church in Clive and has held the position since 2012. He is also an adjunct professor of church music and the arts at Grandview University in Des Moines, and previously served as the head of the music department at Manhattan Christian School in Churchill, Montana.

He received his Bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University, Spokane, and his Master and Doctorate in Sacred Music from Graduate Theological Foundation in South Bend, Indiana.

In accepting the position, Johnson was enthusiastic about working with Ames Chamber Artists and is looking forward to the “opportunity to work with a community-based musical organization which strives for musical excellence.”

While he has worked with extensively adult choirs, Johnson pointed to his range of experience and hopes to draw on that as ACA director.

“I have been blessed over the last 25 years to have had the opportunity to work with many types of musical organizations from professional to children’s choirs, small instrumental ensembles to orchestras.”

Johnson expects that Ames Chamber Artists will continue to perform a variety of musical styles. Regardless of the style, he said the emphasis will be on the finished product and communicating with the audience.

“Communication and singing TOGETHER are very important to me,” Johnson said. “In terms of music, great music is great music. I like many different types of music, as long as it communicates a lasting truth or idea.”

“Whenever you have a group of people bringing their unique personhood and musical background to the musical pursuits of the ensemble, the ensemble begins to join into what Weston Noble calls ‘The Special World,’ ” Johnson said. “This is what the Ames Chamber Artist’s seem to bring. As with any ensemble that comes together once a week you have the challenge of time and schedules. It is my job to make sure that when we are together we are moving forward in a positive and FUN way.”

Johnson hasn’t fully mapped out the future direction he sees for Ames Chamber Artists, but indicated he would like to see more collaborations and use of instrumental accompaniment.

“I am still getting the lay of the land so I’m not sure at this point what the future holds,” he said. “What I do know is that I would like the footprint of this fine ensemble be a little larger throughout the state and mid-west and to continue the fine tradition that the Ames Chamber Artists have of commissioning works.”

Though it might seem like he spends all his waking hours involved in music, Johnson does have interests outside the music realm.

“My wife Cindy and I are both voracious readers — I like British and Italian mysteries!” he said. “We love to take walks and most important, we are both college basketball fans! Cindy was a basketball player in high school and college – I grew up in a household with a father who was a college baseball and basketball coach. I also played competitive tennis for many years.”

If you’d be interested in singing with Johnson and the Ames Chamber Artists, auditions for new singers will be held on consecutive Thursdays, Aug. 8 and Aug. 15 from 4:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Bethesda Lutheran Church.  To learn more about the auditions and to sign up for a time, singers may contact Johnson at

The two primary concerts for the upcoming season will be Dec. 10, 2016 and May 13, 2017. Additional  appearances may be added at a later date.