Katie Pfotzer | Echo
If there is one thing that JoAnn Rediger, professor of music, will hold dear as she concludes her long career at Taylor University, it is her gratitude for the students.
"I think my greatest accomplishment according to alumni has been that I was able to create a safe place for everyone, and that together with the students we have created that," Rediger said. "It is a place of safety, inclusion, welcome, love and family."
For Rediger, students have always been the center of her ministry. And they return the love she has for them.
Sophomore Ashton McKenzie described his favorite moment in choir. It was fall 2017 and the choir was learning a new song note by note. They sang a chord so well, it sent Rediger into a half fainting position.
"It was so photographical," McKenzie said. "One leg was swooped out behind her and her hands were on her head and her head was back. Nowhere in the world can you pay to see someone that passionate about music. "
McKenzie is the recipient of the Dr. JoAnn Kinghorn Rediger Scholarship. Set up by former provost Steve Bedi, the scholarship is meant to sustain the legacy of the choir director.
Upon learning that he had been awarded the scholarship, McKenzie was moved to tears.
"At first I took it very comically, like where is the camera?" McKenzie said. "But as soon as we got into formation the tears began flowing and I could not finish the piece."
McKenzie shares a special relationship with the director, stating that she is who he wants to be in 20 years.
Over spring break, chorale travelled to McKenzie's home in the Bahamas, staying with his family.
These trips have often been highlights of the chorale experience. Over the years, Rediger has brought chorale everywhere from Israel and Jordan to Michigan to Greece. The last place they have been to five times, cementing the relationships that have been built over the years.
There have been many memorable moments from those trips but there is one moment that sticks out to many alumni more than any others.
Chorale was driving to tour in Michigan. The bus driver started out the tour driving under the bridge by Jefferson Cemetery.
The bridge was too short and the top of the bus scraped, leaving holes in the ceiling and tearing off the air conditioner.
Of course for every joy-filled memory, there is also a painful one.
Rediger explained that one of the hardest moments of her career was singing at the memorial immediately after the van accident in 2006 where five university students and staff members were killed.
At the time, the choir director felt like they were able to bring many people peace in a difficult time.
"Music is a bridge-builder," Rediger said.
The mark she has left has not only been on students but faculty. Christopher Bade, professor of music, recalls how she and her husband extended an invitation of fellowship to the professor after he and his wife moved to the area.
Though Rediger is retiring, she does not plan on giving up music.
"What is next?" Rediger said. "The seniors and I have that in common. We both keep getting that question."
The retired director plans to spend her time continuing her studies of the organ.
Rediger is proud of her many years of service to the institution and of her deeply-rooted family history here.
"Taylor has afforded me wonderful opportunities to pursue music I love," Rediger said. "I am grateful for all of the encouragement and support I've received at Taylor and continue to pray that future students and teachers will find their own experience of God's grace in the Chorale."