Barbara & Craig Johnston, Principal Cello & Principal Timpani



1C B Waimea Canyon Kauai (56K)

To celebrate Valentine's Day this month, we feature two of Portland Columbia Symphony's principal players: Craig Johnston (timpani) and Barbara Johnston (cello). The two, who are celebrating their 50th anniversary this year, met when they were 16 at Cazadero Music Camp in the California Redwoods. They married in 1968 and graduated the next year from the University of California at Berkeley. They pursued separate careers (Craig, electronics engineering; Barbara, law) but music has been a constant throughout their marriage. Except for three one-year sabbaticals, they have always been core members of one or more orchestras, first in the Seattle area, and now, for the past 29 years, in the Portland area.

People can change substantially over a fifty year marriage, but the couple says that music has had a large role in strengthening and enriching their relationship. They sometimes study together as they prepare for performances. They often constitute each other's carpool to rehearsals and concerts. The commuting distances to Portland and to Newport (where both hold principal positions with the Newport Symphony) provide many opportunities for meaningful conversations. A favorite game is to turn on a classical radio station mid-performance and see who can guess the composer and the piece first.

3Johnstons with new dog (97K)

Craig and Barbara have two sons, both professionally involved in the arts (animation, music, photography and theater). They also claim as adjunct family six former exchange students from around the world.

When not making music, the Johnstons can often be found aboard their sailboat in the Pacific Northwest or in other parts of the world. This year, after PCSO's May concert series, they will be returning to their boat (now in England) and will spend a sabbatical year sailing the boat home across the Atlantic, through the Carribean and the Panama Canal, to Portland. It seems like a fitting way to spend a 50th anniversary year, although they both admit they will miss the music and camaraderie with their colleagues at Portland Columbia Symphony Orchestra.

2CBRF001 color corrected (68K)