Dynamic leader joins MSU community music school in Detroit


The Michigan State University College of Music is pleased to announce that the educator, trumpeter and composer Kristopher johnson is the new director of one of the College’s flagship outreach programs, the Community Music School-Detroit (CMS-D). He begins his work at CMS-D on November 15, 2021.

“Following a national search, I am delighted with the appointment of Kris as the new principal in Detroit,” said the dean of the College of Music James forger. “He brings significant experience as a leading jazz artist, effective educator in top universities, arts consultant and administrator, and as a successful market strategist. He will be a tremendous asset to our management team. “

Forger said Johnson, from Detroit, is passionate about the work of CMS-D because it brings the power of music to students, families and the community at large.

“Kris has proven to be a successful collaborator and leader within the arts education community of Metro Detroit, and I am confident that her leadership for our organization – along with her strong staff, faculty exceptional and generous stakeholders – will take CMS-D to a new level of impact and collaboration, ”added Forger.

Johnson has served as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Utah, Project Director for the Pontiac School District, and Head of Education and Digital Programming for the Motown Museum in Detroit. He has also directed an Arts in Education Fellowship from the United States Department of Education, and has served on faculty at Ohio State University and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Civic Youth Ensembles. Her experience also includes working as an artistic liaison for JazzEd Detroit through a partnership with ArtOps and the Fred A. and Barbara M. Erb Family Foundation.

CMS-D opened in the fall of 2009, CMS’s second location after the success of the original location in East Lansing, which opened in 1993. Located in the Detroit Cultural Corridor to serve the Residents of Metro Detroit, CMS-D offers classes for youth and adults and ensembles. Students participate in classes for any instrument, voice, jazz, concert band, choir, early childhood music, or music therapy, and CMS-D provides significant tuition assistance as needed. A variety of youth summer camps are held each year and programs are added in response to community needs.

“As a product of the Detroit arts scene, I know firsthand the impact that vibrant music programming has on our community,” Johnson said. “This exciting position is a continuation of my commitment to mentoring future industry leaders, fostering talent in our youth and bridging the accessibility gap for education and technology in our city. “

Johnson received his BA and MA in Jazz Studies from Michigan State University in 2005 and 2007, respectively, and since then he has proven himself in the music world as a composer, arranger and Grammy-nominated trumpeter. As a traveling member of the Count the base Orchestra, he has been a featured soloist on tours around the world and is one of the first arrangers of the legendary ensemble.

“What impressed the research committee at Kris so much was his commitment to education. He is a much sought-after clinician, he has taught master classes and led workshops for many educational institutions, including MSU, and he is the creator and curator of a series of distance learning courses that teach music theory and music technology to students from many backgrounds and levels of musical development, ”said Rhonda Buckley- Bishop, Acting Director of CMS-D. “Her dedication and technical knowledge will serve this organization, our students and our families well.”

Johnson, 2012 Kresge Fellow and 2013 ASCAP Recipient Alpert Grass Young Jazz Composers Award, is a frequently commissioned composer and arranger. He sees exciting opportunities ahead to use his diverse professional experiences for the benefit of CMS-D.

“CMS-D’s commitment to the City of Detroit is strong, and we will continue to nurture our partnership by working together for our entire community,” said Johnson. “I would like to thank MSU for the honor of serving in this capacity, and I would like to thank the faculty and staff of the College of Music and CMS-D for their tireless dedication to music education.”

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