Performing for a Cast of Thousands

By Johna Till Johnson

I’ve got great genes. No, make that fantastic genes.

Multiple grandparents and their siblings have lived well into their 90s (and a few into their 100s). And they continued having interesting adventures throughout their lives.

True to that tradition, my (then) 83-year-old mother, Mary Louise Till, and I went on a trip to the Arctic last summer. Thanks to good timing and the skill of our ship’s captain, we were able to crunch through the Arctic ice to north of 86 degrees latitude. (No, I’m not exaggerating—we were roughly 500 miles from the North Pole. And yes, I really will write up this adventure!)

More recently, my mother had an adventure closer to home: Performing  this past Monday for approximately 10,000 people in Corpus Christi, Texas, for the Diocese Centennial Mass.

Here’s a short news video about the performance—it’s pretty exciting! (There’s about 5 seconds of advertising preceding it.)

My mother is a second alto in the Corpus Christi Cathedral  Choir, a surprisingly excellent adult choir directed by Lee Gwozdz, Corpus Christi Cathedral’s world-class choir director. (It’s a musical family: Lee’s brother, Eugene Gwozdz, has directed  the musical “Annie” on Broadway and appears currently on Broadway as musical director/accompanist for “At This Performance”.)

Here’s an earlier video of the choir performing. My mother appears in the upper right at 0:29, wearing glasses and bobbing her head enthusiastically. You can see her through 0:50.

The Diocese Centennial Mass was a celebration of Corpus Christi’s 100th year as a Catholic Diocese. Held in the Corpus Christi Cathedral, the mass featured 40 bishops,  3 archbishops, 300 priests, and a keynote by New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan.  (My mother says Cardinal Dolan’s speech was rather pedestrian. Compared to the musical accompaniment, I’m sure it was!)

Not too many of us ever perform for a cast of thousands—much less in our 80s.  Congratulations, mums!

5 responses to “Performing for a Cast of Thousands

  1. Nice one Johna, cannot wait to read your Arctic post. Hurrah for good genes.

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  2. How great! Not only the experience but the public record, music and all. You DO have good genes :-)

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  3. Johna Till Johnson

    Thanks! And Ailsapm… the Arctic writeup really is forthcoming. Honest!!

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  4. Congrats to your mother and you for your genes. God bless her!

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  5. Johna Till Johnson

    Thanks Marcia!

    Yes, my mother is the same bright-eyed, inquisitive, kind, droll, witty, opinionated, friendly and loving person she was in 1954. Except maybe a bit mellower now that she’s running her household just for herself (and not my father and me).

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