Johnson Named Benstein’s Successor


Natalie Bunting, Staff Writer

Johnny Johnson, a former college student of retiring music director Harvey Benstein, will take over the instrumental music program at Campolindo next fall.

Johnson looks forward to working at the Moraga school. “The staff is professional, and the community is supportive,” he said.  According to Johnson, the instrumental music department at Campolindo is already a “well established program” with students that are “already performing at high levels.”

Johnson currently works in the Porter High School music department in Texas. Prior to living in Texas, Johnson worked in College Park’s music department in Pleasant Hill.

When Johnson and his wife moved to Texas, he originally planned on staying there and building Porter’s music program.  However, when it came to his attention that Benstein was retiring at Campolindo, he said, “We just know what a great music program Campolindo has. It’s not a pass up opportunity.”

Johnson plans to “continue as closely as possible” Benstein’s music curriculum. He said, “It may change over time but nothing will be abrupt.”

Benstein served as an advisor to Principal Carol Kitchens during the application process.  He chose not to be directly involved in selecting his successor.  He said, “I was hoping that they’d find someone that would be independent and have their own music ideas.”

When the process was narrowed down to two applicants, both finalists visited Campolindo and directed a class. The students then shared their opinions through a survey.  According to Benstein, “the students liked both finalists.” Junior Annie Guo said that she is “excited to see what the new director is going to bring, and how he’s going to integrate the concert and symphonic band.”

Benstein said, “Mr. Johnson is hard working and experienced in all aspects of our program.  He has developed programs at other schools and shares a similar philosophy about music making that exists already at Campolindo.”

Johnson said, “I hope that I can continue the fantastic tradition that Mr. Benstein and those who were before him have built.”