Bernadine Johnson to Headline Concert for TrueNorth’s 50th
When Bernadine Johnson first moved to Fremont in 1973, she was hoping a music education position would become available. When that didn’t happen,
she started a piano studio offering private lessons and never looked back. A few years after her move to the area, she met Rev. Gene Cotton, TrueNorth’s
first Executive Director. Gene asked her to join the Music Scholarship Committee, a precursor to what would eventually become the Music Enhancement
Committee. Through this committee, she helped organize and run the annual Music Scholarship Contest, and Music Clinics. Bernadine also served
on the Fine Arts Committee, and is known for bringing the Madrigals to Newaygo County.
When Thea Hoekman, another private piano instructor in the area suggested the start of a local piano teacher’s forum, Bernadine was quick to agree, with TrueNorth being the obvious home of the newly formed Newaygo County Piano Teachers Association (NCPTA). Utilizing the 1912 Steinway piano Bessie Slautterback secured all the way back in 1952, the NCPTA ran the First Friday Piano Showcases for local students, annual Piano Clinics, summer Piano Camps, Sonata / Sonatina Festivals, and another of Bernadine’s creative ideas; The
Birthday Concert Series. These annual concerts celebrated the music of famous composers in the year of significant birthdays, and featured many local performers and occasionally students.
In 2004, Bernadine joined other NCPTA and community members in an effort to raise money needed to completely renovate the Steinway, starting with the Save the Steinway concert. In 2017, she organized a 20th Anniversary Birthday
Concert featuring performers and selections from each of the previous year’s concerts. For the 2022 concert, Bernadine has a list of performers she hopes to feature, many of whom have performed at past concerts. Details on who will be performing, themes, and name of the concert are still in the works, but we know the date – Sunday, October 23. At the insistence of an old friend, Bernadine has also committed to perform a solo piece on the piano.
“I’ve been so thrilled by my time here. I’ve made so many friends and have had the opportunity to perform with, and alongside such talented people, many of whom are no longer with us; Ted Havemen, Chuck Witteveen, Roger Marshall, Phyllis Jansma… These things all started, not only as a need to use my musical talents but also as a gift to a community that has been the biggest blessing to me. And this place, NCCS / TrueNorth has been such a blessing to so many people in so many ways. I’ve had the best life here…”