Johnsons Establish Practice Organ Endowment at Crane School of Music


Arthur L. and Anne H. Johnson have established the Practice Organ Endowment at SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music (Photo credit: Betsy Tisdale).

Dr. Arthur L. Johnson and Anne Hastings Johnson share a love for the North Country community they call home, as well as an appreciation for music. Now, they have combined those passions in a gift to SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music that will help ensure that faculty, students and community members will be able to experience the beauty of organ music for years to come.

Arthur L. and Anne H. Johnson recently established the Practice Organ Endowment for The Crane School of Music. Their generous gift will allow Crane to maintain, refurbish, improve and add to the inventory of practice organs at the School. This will enhance study opportunities for Crane students, and expand performance opportunities so that the organ can be used in spaces where an organ is currently not available. It will also allow organs to be used more extensively alongside Crane choral and instrumental ensembles, and will offer increased outreach opportunities for the community.

"Crane is extremely grateful for the generous endowment gift of Anne and Arthur Johnson, which will provide annual funding to assist in the support of several organs that Crane faculty and students use in a variety of ways. These instruments are used for practice, and for performances with vocalists, choral groups and instrumental ensembles. Having this fund will enable us to make necessary repairs and improvements to maintain this important asset to our program," said Crane School of Music Dean Dr. Michael Sitton.

Anne has had a lifelong passion for music, which she has been able to hone on campus since her husband was hired as a faculty member in the College's Department of History in 1968. She can often be found practicing organ works on one of Crane’s practice instruments, especially if she has an upcoming church service.

For many years, Anne sang in Crane Chorus, and fondly remembers traveling to New York City in 1986 for the rededication of the Statue of Liberty. She also began to take courses in music, starting with auditing an aural skills class taught by Crane alumnus Joe Liotta '61 at Potsdam High School. Anne went on to take courses in musicianship, music history, aural skills and conducting at Crane. Meanwhile, she also began to hone her skills on the organ, studying with several different teachers, including George Jones and James Autenrith.

"I studied piano with Clive Henry, and basic musicianship with Perry Yaw, Bob Gibbs, Peg Minnotti, Betty Baritaud and of course with Brock McElheran," Anne said. "All those professors were inspirations to me. It's wonderful that most stayed in Potsdam after they retired; this is what we want to do, too!"

Today, Anne takes lessons with Dr. Michelle R. Martin-Atwood, and serves as a substitute church organist for several churches in the area. Arthur retired in 1999 after 31 years of service, and enjoys attending his wife's performances. The Johnsons have two daughters, Margaret Alice Johnson '87 and Laura A. Whalen, as well as four grandchildren.

It is the Johnsons' hope that others who share an appreciation for the organ will contribute to the endowment, to improve the quality of and access to Crane's practice organs. If you are interested in contributing to the Practice Organ Endowment, please contact the Office of Advancement at (315) 267-3253 or email

For more information about SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music, please visit

Founded in 1886, SUNY Potsdam's Crane School of Music has a long legacy of excellence in music education and performance. Life at Crane includes an incredible array of more than 300 recitals, lectures and concerts presented by faculty, students and guests each year. The Crane School of Music is the State University of New York's only All-Steinway institution.