Music cures

Concert to benefit professor diagnosed with leukemia

By Elaine Gerou
Managing Editor

SpringConcertSchoolcraft Choral Director, Dr. Jonathan Drake, a beloved member of the Schoolcraft community and father of two teenage girls, was recently diagnosed with leukemia in early February. To assist with the financial burden, Schoolcraft is holding a benefit concert on Sunday, April 26 at 6 p.m. at the Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church on Farmington Road in Livonia. The concert will feature the Schoolcraft Choral Union as well as special guests The Ford Motor Company Chorus.

Drake is a dedicated part-time professor at Schoolcraft, teaching three classes, Class Voice, Music Appreciation and Voice Lessons. Having earned an Associate in Arts from Schoolcraft, a Bachelor of Music in Music Education from The University of Michigan, a Master of Music in Choral Conducting from Bowling Green, a Doctorate of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from Arizona State University and 16 years of experience as a staff singer at Kirk in the Hills, all who learn from Drake are privileged to have such a credible and knowledgeable instructor.

“It [music] connects me to people and ideas that someone else created,” Drake said referring to the history of music.

Drake has been the dedicated director of Schoolcraft Choral Union since 2006 and the director of The Ford Motor Company Chorus since 2007, but is currently taken away from his passion due to his 10-week Monday through Friday chemotherapy treatment sessions. Fortunately, Drake was diagnosed with the most treatable and curable type of leukemia—acute promyelocytic leukemia (APL), which is a cancer of white blood cells. His wife of almost 25 years, Susan, said the doctors are optimistic and that despite the inevitable effect of fatigue, her husband is handling treatment well.

“He loves what he does. He is very talented and likes to share his love of the music and the history behind it with others. Being in his choirs is a history lesson in itself,” Susan said.

Christ Our Savior Lutheran Church is located at 14175 Farmington Road. Both of the choirs Drake usually directs, as well as Christ Our Savior Lutheran Festival Choir, will pay tribute to Drake in effort to support him and his family at this time of need. Longtime friend of Drake, Dr. Kim Renas, will direct the event.

Dr. Renas touched on her longtime friendship with Drake and her hope for his soon return. “We enjoy speaking with each other since we have similar backgrounds in choral and vocal music. We also attended high schools in Livonia and he and one of my brothers attended Churchill together. Music is a small world and we all tend to know each other. I have enjoyed working with the Choral Union and look forward to Dr. Drake feeling well enough to return to directing them.”

There will be a freewill offering at the end of the performance, and 100 percent of the donations will be given to Drake. It is sure to be a wonderful and heartfelt performance.