July 6, 2020

Dear Friends,
I can think of nothing more important in the life of a musician than a musical mentor. They occupy a very special place in the memory and experience of anyone who has ever had any involvement with music. For many of us, they are “the one” – the one who through some miraculous series of events brought the joy, the beauty, the magic of music into our lives. In so many ways, their influence on us is indelible. They are the one we think about when we perform. They are the one whose approval we still seek, whether they are in the performance hall or not. And they are the one we remember with gratitude for the time they took to share with us the magical secrets of the world of music. Whether or not we continue to pursue an active musical life, their influence is still felt each time we hear, talk about or experience a musical moment.

Recently, I lost perhaps the most important musical mentor in my life, Dr. Claiborne T. Richardson. So much has already been said in recent days about Dr. Richardson, that it is probably unnecessary for me to go on here about his myriad of accomplishments. For those who did not know him well, I can tell you that he was a truly great man, a great musician, a great teacher, and a cherished leader in our community. He was also the founder of the Reunion Music Society, Inc. and the first music director of the NOVA-Annandale Symphony Orchestra. In so many ways, what the orchestra has accomplished over its twenty-five year history has been the result of his vision, his generosity, and his love of music and music education.

In the days and weeks ahead, amidst all of the horrific news and changing world situations, I encourage you to take a moment to reflect on your musical mentor(s). I trust it will not take long for you to call to mind those individuals or “the one” who played that pivotal role in your life. The memories will most likely be both fresh and profound. As you reflect on the person or people who played that important role in your life, I encourage you to give thanks. Rest assured, as a member of the NOVA-Annandale Symphony Orchestra, you are in some way sharing the legacy of that special person who took the time to share the gift of music with you.

I believe that my friend Clai Richardson said it best, when at his father’s funeral he quoted the words of songwriter, Dan Fogelberg:

“The Leader of the band is tired, and his eyes are growing old,
But his blood runs through my instrument, and his song is in my soul.”

I am, this day, most grateful that Claiborne T. Richardson’s song is in my soul!

C. Johnston
Music Director

Dr. Richardson’s obituary