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FREE Courtroom Concert: Rod Kelly Hines and Celeste Marie Johnson

Thursday, April 4, 12:00PM

Landmark Center Courtroom 317

Rod Kelly Hines, baritone; Celeste Marie Johnson, piano


Hosted by composer Abbie Betinis, our popular Courtroom Concerts take place at noon most Thursdays in the Landmark Center in downtown Saint Paul. This series features accomplished musicians and composers from the Twin Cities and surrounding area, as well as occasional musical newcomers to the area. These one-hour concerts are free and open to the public.

About the Program:

“Shadow of the Blues”
The poetry of Langston Hughes embodies a rich tapestry of emotions, traversing the depths of sorrow and the heights of joy with equal measure. Rooted in his profound philosophy of self-acceptance and defiance against societal norms, Hughes’s words resonate with a raw authenticity that speaks to the soul. His poetry, infused with the rhythms and melodies of the human experience, serves as a natural canvas for musical interpretation. Whether evoking the haunting strains of the tom-tom or the jubilant laughter of resilience, Hughes’s verses inspire composers to craft melodies that mirror the complexities of existence. In the union of Hughes’s poetic vision and musical expression, audiences are transported on a journey that celebrates the beauty of the individual, unbound by external judgment, and revels in the strength of collective identity. As Hughes himself declared, their pleasure or displeasure matters little, for within his poetry, Black people find affirmation, and all listeners discover the enduring power of self-affirmation and artistic freedom. – Rod Kelley Hines

About the Artists:

Rod Kelly Hines is a classically trained baritone and versatile artist who enjoys performing in a variety of genres. He feels most at home in choral ensembles, enjoying the spectrum of artistry that he is able to explore within a vast range of musical styles. From 2018-2021 he was a member of the Brooklyn-based ensemble Choral Chameleon, under the direction of Vince Peterson. In 2019 he became an inaugural member of EXIGENCE Vocal Ensemble, directed by Dr. Eugene Rogers. He is currently based in Minneapolis and in his third season singing Baritone with Cantus.

Pianist Celeste Marie Johnson, described as “eloquent” by the Baltimore Sun, is dedicated to exploring the compelling intersection of text and music in vocal repertoire. A sought-after recital partner, Celeste has performed throughout the US; recent projects include the world premiere of Libby Larsen’s North Shore Songs with Clara Osowski as part of the Schubert Club Courtroom Concert series in 2021, appearances with LOFT Recital, and curating a program for the MN Opera Apart Together Artist Showcase series. She was a part of Renée Fleming’s Song Studio at Carnegie Hall in 2020 and in 2018, she received the Marc and Eva Stern Fellowship at SongFest.

Celeste is currently the Principal Coach and Chorus Director at Minnesota Opera and has held music staff positions with opera companies and festivals across the country, including the Lakes Area Music Festival, Opera Saratoga, the Boston University Opera Institute, Odyssey Opera, Inland Northwest Opera, the Atlantic Music Festival, and the Hawai’i Performing Arts Festival. In 2018, Celeste was a faculty member at the Boston University Tanglewood Institute.

Celeste received her BM in Piano Performance from Baylor University, MM in Ensemble Arts: Vocal Accompanying from The Peabody Institute of the Johns Hopkins University, and DMA in Collaborative Piano from Boston University. In November 2021, she became a Certified Professional Coach through the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching. Celeste loves spending time with her husband Keith and cat Pushkin and enjoys practicing yoga, hiking, cooking, and poetry.