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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Hooked on music

At 90, choir director never 'runs out of things to learn'

When Helen Kemp agrees these days to direct a children’s choir festival, to teach or lecture, or to speak to other choir directors, she adds as a caveat “the good Lord willing.”

Despite hedging her bets, Kemp honors her busy schedule without fail, including directing the Children’s Choir Festival of Song and Word at Trinity Lutheran Church, New York, which honored the choir director on her 90th birthday.


Kemp, a member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Perkasie, Pa., took the birthday celebration as an occasion to write a biography in The Chorister, a magazine for a guild that works with Christian youth music programs.

“It was the first time I had really looked back on my career,” Kemp said. “When you’re busy there’s not really time to reflect on all you’re doing. It’s interesting because this is not exactly the career I chose, but it was more handed to me.”

When Kemp entered Westminster Choir College, Princeton, N.J., in 1937, she planned on being a singer. But the music and liturgy of the church were persuasive. After graduating in 1941, she accepted a choir directing position in North Carolina—and she was hooked.


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