In the Loop
Alumni News : Nov 16, 2017

Organ alumnus takes daughter to acclaimed organist concert

By Francesca Zepeda

Eight-year-old Halle Richardson took a seat at the Anderson Memorial Organ in the UF Auditorium on Sunday afternoon, Nov. 5. Her jaw dropped immediately.

“That’s the big G-minor one,” she shouted. “Wow!”

Halle had heart her father Xavier Richardson (B.M. Organ and B.A. English ‘11, M.S. Entrepreneurship ‘17) many times on their home instrument.

Xavier is currently an Associate Director at Front Street Commercial Real Estate Group, Founder of Keys By X. When he is not providing keyboard lessons, he is also a Music Director at Mount Carmel Baptist where he oversees six vocal ensembles and a band.

But this time Halle’s father was not playing.

Professor Emeritus of Music Dr. Joyce Johnson was giving life to the 5,000 mounted pipes.

Johnson, a Historically Black Colleges and Universities organist , has taught at Spelman College for more than 50 years, playing a riveting program with works by Bach, Franck, Langlais and Hailstork.

Halle watched with excitement in her eyes. She especially loved “Wade in the Water”, a traditional spiritual arranged for organ by African-American composer Adolphus Hailstork.

Xavier believed it was important for his daughter to experience other African-American organists in concert, particularly living legends such as Dr. Johnson.

“She has inspired so many, and what a great message to send to her that there’s a new generation coming along that is still interested in the organ and the arts,” Xavier said.

The highlight of the afternoon was when Halle got an opportunity to meet Johnson.

“You were amazing,” Halle said.

Johnson thanked her. “You’re going to be next,” she said.

Halle smiled all the way home.

Xavier extends a special thank you to Dr. Laura Ellis and the UF Organ Studio for hosting an amazing event.