David Griggs-Janower

We encourage members of the public to share their remembrances of David. Please email your remembrances to Please send your remembrances as an attachment to the email, and include your name on the document itself. All tributes will be collected and placed in the APM archives and shared with David’s family.

From David's memorial service, August 30, 2013 at Troy Savings Bank Music Hall. Photo credit: Kelly Ortiz

From the media

From the Altamont Enterprise: “Love permeated all he did.” more
From The Business Review:“A statement on the Albany Pro Musica Facebook page announcing Janower’s passing received dozens of comments from singers, orchestras around the country and others who described Griggs-Janower as having a tremendous talent, big heart and quick wit.”…read more
From Hudson Sounds:“David was an exceptional person with remarkable music talents, passion for excellence, and caring for others and his community, whether it was the greater Capital Region or the global choral community. He chose to share his talents, insights, and passions with us and through that he brought joy, care, and support to many, personally and professionally.”…read more
From The Times Union: “…In rehearsal he was known to be an exacting and effective taskmaster, supplementing scholarship and experience with well-aimed humor to coax the best from his singers. He loved love songs — he especially liked to conduct them in the spring — and regarded vocal music as “so personal…part of human being, and part of every culture.”"…read more
From The Troy Record: David Griggs-Janower, founder, artistic director and conductor of Albany Pro Musica, is being remembered for his love of music and his commitment to excellence in its more
From WAMC:“There’s a mournful tune playing this week in the Capital Region’s musical community. David Griggs-Janower, who died Sunday from complications of a stroke, was the face of choral music in the region for decades.”…read more
From WNYT: “Albany Pro Musica mourns death of founder.”

From musicians, colleagues, students and friends:

From Sheri Bauer-Mayorga, APM Alto/accompanist, 2010-present: “How we will miss a great humanitarian, musician, and scholar, the incomparable, David Griggs-Janower. The world cannot have too many of such a one as these. The loss of this person is great in the world’s balance. Still, his sincerity, generosity, and genuine compassion proved that such goodness does not disappear, but kindles and magnifies itself in others. I feel it in myself, I see it in my fellow APM singers, in the mission statement and activities of Albany Pro Musica, in the APM community, and in the greater choral community.” …read more
From Ann Casey Bullock, APM soprano, 1988 – present: “DJ looked at music and music‐making as a group effort: from taking suggestions (when asked!) on a word choice to his never‐ending quest for the perfect vowel ‐‐from everyone‐‐music and the pursuit of beauty is not a passion to be pursued individually, but a love to be shared. In David’s honor, I hope we will all work a little harder; laugh more; and marvel at the love and beauty that surround us which can best be shared through music.”…read more
From Valerie Donovan, APM soprano 1991 – present: “David was the consummate musician and spirited leader – he was attuned to every aspect of assuring APM’s high musical quality and exposing the gift of music to all in the Capital region. He was devoted to his family, his choruses and to the betterment of the human and world spirit. I will miss you, David, and I thank you so much for the good times.”…read more
From Margie Dunn, SUNYA Chorale member: “I was thrilled to discover from a colleague that David welcomed members of the community to join in the U of Albany chorus. Although I could only spare to “skip out a bit early from work” for a semester, I thoroughly enjoyed the opportunity last Fall (2012) to join in. I immediately appreciated David’s expertise as a musician and teacher as well as his great humor. My background is limited – mostly just small church groups – so it was a great privilege to perform at Proctor’s last December with the orchestra. The music from the experience will live with me forever.”…read more
From Ann Marie Grathwol, APM alto 2006 – present: “While the time for David to rest from his labors has come far too soon, he leaves behind a legacy of beautiful music and uncompromisingly high standards. The responsibility now lies with us as singers to carry his works forward by continuing to implement what he taught us in rehearsals. I am immensely grateful for the opportunity to sing with David and for the way he insisted on excellence from us. My life has been greatly enriched by his musical direction and friendship.”…read more
From Jonathan Hansen, APM tenor 2004-present: “He was the greatest conductor I ever had the privilege to perform under. In the same way that he connected with his students and singers, he connected with the music, in deep and profound ways. He could gracefully shape the chorus’s sound with subtle hand gestures or facial expressions – a slight cup of his hands for a warmer, richer tone, or a raise of the eyebrows for a more exciting passage – while simultaneously conducting so clearly and with such unwavering precision that the technical accuracy of the chorus was always preserved. David’s passion and artistic vision was infectious. He always pushed his ensembles, most particularly Albany Pro Musica, to work harder and dream bigger. You just knew his career and artistry were on a perpetually upward trajectory, and you wanted to be along with him for the ride.” …read more
From Colin Helie, APM bass 1983 – present: “He was so important to this community. He instituted the High School Choral Festival, the APM Apprentice program. The Albany High School collaboration, one thing after another. I think above all, David was an educator. His commitment was to bring good music – good art – to everyone. I always felt that every single Tuesday night rehearsal was a voice lesson. David entreating us to open our mouths; to sing good vowels: to sit up straight; to understand what the song is about; to GET IT…as he always did.”…read more
From Karen Hitchcock, President, Board of Directors, Albany Pro Musica: “…So, David, while your passing has brought a stillness born of grief and loss, know that we all will, very soon, sing for you again — sing with the joy of having experienced your prodigious artistic talents; sing with the joy of having shared your delight in the beauty of music in all its forms; and sing with the joy of having known someone who cared so deeply and loved so well. The music will go on, David, and it goes on for you.”…read more
From Tom Johnston, APM tenor 2001-present: “My deepest connection with David was in his passion to deliver meaningful and heart felt music to the world. While he was not a religious man, he was one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. He truly cared for his fellow man, woman and child. This was always reflected in his musical choices and musical direction. His caring was true and honest, not originating from a need for recognition or reward.”…read more
From Kira Lerner, SUNYA student: (written March 11, 2013) “…Unlike all the other adults in my life—even including my father—DJ let me talk. And rather astonishingly and atypically, I did, in my stumbling, awkward way. I also listened. I learned that DJ had lost his father at a very young age, possibly younger than I was at that point, I don’t remember. He took the time to tell me how he’d felt, and how he could see I was struggling… He showed empathy and gentleness and humor and, when it came to my work in Chamber Singers or in Music Theory (which he also taught), some necessary nudging when I slacked off… but never insensitivity to what I was going through.” …read more
From Deirdre Michael, APM soprano 1996-2001, 2010-present: “I often feel that our audience missed out on some of the most wonderful moments of our concerts, because they couldn’t see David’s face when it was radiant with joy, his gentle hands when they finally gave the last downbeat of a piece that none of us wanted to end, even his amusement when things didn’t go quite as planned. The joy of singing with David was very rooted in his passion for music, but also in his wonderful sense of humor.”…read more
From Starr Norman, APM alto 1981, APM accompanist 2003-2013: “I have never known such a generous person in his drive to make the world a better place. David gave up time to work with Habitat for Humanity and often organized fund drives , bottle drives, and gave his time and money for various causes. He shared innumerable books and publications that opened my eyes to injustice and worldwide need. David had an innate curiosity and a keen intellect that was unquenchable. I never had a conversation with him that I didn’t learn something new. His energy was boundless. His interests were insatiable. AND, he punctuated all of this with a wonderful witty humor that kept us all laughing. He experienced life to the max.”…read more
From Deborah Hildreth Phelps, APM soprano 1988-1998: “David was a demanding choral director. His attention to detail and deep understanding of the meaning imbedded in both the words and music; and his passionate ability to mold the sound clearly, expressively and poignantly, allowed a rich experience for both musicians and audience.”…read more
From Sharon Roy, APM soprano (now alto) 30 years: “He was passionate about taking music to the community that would touch their hearts and give them something to think about. And he was passionate about giving young people the experience of singing excellent choral music and showing them they could make it a part of their lives forever.”…read more
From Helene Runion, APM soprano 2002-present: “I never really put much time into practicing choral music. Unlike chemistry and trigonometry, music came a bit easy to me and so I would just show up at a rehearsal and sing. That is until I joined A.P.M. and started singing with David. After a few shameful weeks of rehearsals I realized that not only did I need to practice before I came to rehearsal, but I was going to be practicing practically every day of the week. As David would say,” don’t leave you’re practicing till the night before a rehearsal”. Little did I know that David would instill in me the kind of discipline I never had nor understood in all of my years in school and higher education.”…read more
From David C. Scheiber, APM bass 2011-2012, APM apprentice 2003: [David's] influence had a profound impact on my decision to become a choral music educator–and particularly my decision to return to the classroom after a year’s hiatus. I will never forget you, David, or Dr. Janower as I knew you as a student. I will cherish the music–from Sondheim to Carmina Burana, you were never afraid to Stomp Your Foot upon the floor, nor raise a pint of Guinness at the end of a concert well done, until, some nights, the Milkman DID walk with mysterious movements. I will miss your energy, your verve and your chutzpah. Many thanks for all you have given me.…read more
From Amy Shake, soprano & APM Apprentice 2004: “He became a mentor and a friend – one of THOSE people – the type of person to whom you feel you owe your soul and your first-born child, and can’t say hi to without a warm hug and genuine smile. That, among many things, is what truly made him special. He was the true essence of what a teacher should be – intelligent, caring, compassionate and always willing to help. What I took from him in just a short time will be with me for the rest of my life and career.”…read more
From Tony and Stephanie Siracusa: “The world of music is better because of David. Our condolences to the David’s family. May he rest in peace.”
From Marion Roach Smith, writer, friend:One of the things that secured my friendship with David was that he was a magnificent liberal, one hallmark of which is being inclusive. Consider Passover at their house. They included my husband, who hails from South Dakota, part of America with no known ethnicity, me, a Shiksa from Queens, our daughter, born in China, and a smattering of others of unsteady claim to the Seder table. This inclusiveness extended to the celebration’s date. Passover 2012, which officially began on April 7, was celebrated at the Griggs‐Janowers’ sometime closer to June. I’ve always suspected they did not want to exclude anyone who might actually be performing a more traditional rite. Not that we were not traditional. Our celebration included a lusty singing of the beloved, thousand‐year‐old Dayenu, though it featured a muscular bass line arranged and performed by David that repeated “Oh, Baby,” and supported us as perfectly as Gladys Knight was backed by her Pips, swinging beneath us, reassuring us that we were at the first Motown Seder this side of Detroit.…read more
From Rex Smith, Editor – Times Union, APM bass 1999-present: “But we were all so changed for the better by our time with him, that it would almost be ungrateful of us not to say, as the seder service reminds us, “Dayenu. It is enough.” For in these years we have shared with him, David gave us more than we ever might have fairly asked for, more than any lesser man could have summoned.” excerpted from reflections at David’s memorial service 8/30/2013. …read more
From Andrew Tidd, APM bass 2007-present: “He would command respect without being too demanding. His sense of humor would put everyone at ease without everyone losing focus on the music. He could communicate the subtleties of a text without being too literal, and he could convey his interpretation of the music without getting too bogged down in technicalities. Sadly, he is no longer with us, and for that we mourn, but anyone who has worked with or been taught by him has a greater passion for music, and consequently, a greater passion for life as well, and that is something we can celebrate.”…read more
From Anne Turner, voice teacher, former SUNYA music faculty colleague: “He gave so much to everyone who passed his way, whether as his student, his APMer, colleague, or friend. He lived his life with meaning, love and unerring ethical purposefulness. He was the epitome of excellence, coupled with equal doses of humility and humanity. For David, it was about love, life, and music.”…read more
From William Tuthill, APM bass 1997-present: “While David’s death was not unexpected, it still comes as an enormous shock and loss. It is simply impossible right now to get our heads around him not being here, because of his involvement in so many people’s lives — lives in so many different communities, not just the music community that loved and looked up to him. He was a great musician and conductor, yes. But also a scholar; a teacher; a mentor; a father, husband and son; a writer; an organizer and an activist. The list of David’s roles goes on. And he brought all of them to bear as founder, conductor and artistic director of Albany Pro Musica. We are privileged and honored to have been the recipients.”…read more
From Diane Warner, Artistic Director, Capital District Youth Chorale: “David was unique in fostering the love of choral music in his own family, in APM, in his singers at SUNYA, and in the hearts of young singers who participated in the annual High School Choral Festival, and through his choral outreach to various local high schools. As the attached indicates, David was a very active and engaged member of the CDYC Board of Directors and promoted our organization whenever an opportunity to do so presented itself. Our young singers profited from CDYC’s many joint ventures with Albany Pro Musica during the past 22 years. David was truly a great human being and those of us who knew him, beyond his musicianship, are better for having known him.”…read more
From Margery Whiteman, APM alto 28 years, APM Board President 2006-2011: “David was first and most profoundly a musician, a professional devoted to the highest possible standards in every enterprise he undertook. Whether in rehearsal or performance, he sought to excite his Albany Pro Musica singers, as well as his UA students, to achieve more beautiful tone, asking us always to practice more, try harder, sing with more heart, enter the music and breathe its very soul. He never asked of us efforts he was not himself prepared to make. He was determined that Albany Pro Musica should be merit the attribution: professional quality, amateur choir. Rehearsals every Tuesday night at UA became for me a 28-year ritual, a time during which we worked to use the capacity of music to illuminate the human condition. For David performance offered the opportunity to give people musical experiences they might otherwise never have. He asked his audiences to stretch, to enter with him and his singers into new and exciting musical territory, to listen and hear with new ears.”…read more
From Maureen Whitcomb, SUNYA Chorale and Chamber Singers Alumni: “Dr. Janower was a true inspiration to all of his students. During my freshman year of college, joining the University Chorale was one of my saving graces in the tumultuous transition into my college years. It gave me a confidence and drive that I still have with me today. Dr. Janower made me the best musician I could be.”…read more
From David Wilkinson, Violinist: “I had the privilege of playing under Maestro Janower on a number of occasions, including a performance of Amahl and the Night Visitors. It was a delightful experience. David’s untimely death will be a tremendous loss to the world of music.”