Choral Stream

Anton Armstrong remembers Kenneth Jennings

August 21, 2015

Kenneth Jennings, the third conductor of the renowned St. Olaf Choir (from 1968 to 1990) passed away early Thursday. Anton Armstrong shares his thoughts on his predecessor and former teacher.

"The world of choral music lost a great giant today with the passing of Kenneth Jennings at the age of 90 years old. During his 37-year tenure at St. Olaf College — the last 22 of which were as conductor of the St. Olaf Choir — Kenneth Jennings established himself as a consummate artist.

"In all of his music-making, beauty was at the heart of what he searched for, and in the 22 years with the St. Olaf Choir, he not only brought the choir to a new level of artistic excellence in this country, but throughout the world, touring Europe and Asia — most notably on his his final tour abroad with the choir in 1988 to the Olympic Arts Festival in Seoul, Korea. All the other ensembles at that festival were professional, not collegiate, choirs, yet still to this day the choir's performance there is revered by Korean and the other conductors there."

"He was an immense influence on many of the leading choral directors of his time, both those who were able to sing under his baton or his beautiful hands, and those who experienced his performances with the St. Olaf Choir and the other choirs he conducted. We will remember him with great love and great admiration, and most of all, with great appreciation for the beauty he brought to the world of choral music."