The founding director of Albany Pro Musica, David Griggs-Janower, died Sunday afternoon, five months after suffering a stroke during surgery, the group said Sunday evening. He was 60 years old.
Griggs-Janower served as both the group’s artistic director and conductor until he was stricken by the stroke in March following cancer surgery.
He founded Albany Pro Musica, a choral group that has performed at two gubernatorial inaugurations and been broadcast on National Public Radio, in 1981. Griggs-Janower was also a professor of music and director of choral activities at the University at Albany for more than 30 years.
“It is impossible to quantify the impact he had on thousands of musicians over his 30+ year career,” a statement on the Albany Pro Musica Facebook page Sunday evening read. “David’s generous support of students, musicians and colleagues forged strong arts bonds not just here in the Capital Region, but throughout the choral world.
“David, you were a light,” the statement continued. “We will miss you terribly. Our thoughts go out to Paige, Katy and Michael and the rest of the Janower family.”
A graduate of Cornell University, Griggs-Janower went on to earn his Master of Music and Doctor of Music degrees from the Indiana University School of Music.
In 2003, Griggs-Janower was named outstanding conductor of the year by the New York State American Choral Directors Association.
In a statement issued Sunday evening, Margery Whiteman, a pro musica singer for 28 years and former member of the group’s board of directors, recalled Griggs-Janower’s work to bring out the best in his singers.
“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,” Whiteman said in the statement.
In his own statement, Albany Pro Musica Executive Director Matthew Kopans recalled Griggs-Janower was always happiest leading Albany Pro Musica, along with the several high school choruses invited each year during the High School Choral Festival.
“He would look out at the audience and ask, ‘Aren’t these kids great!’ with such joy in his voice,” Kopans said in the statement. “Music was so important to him.”