Ronald J. Jenkins
A native of St. Louis, Ronald Jenkins has been conductor of the Columbus Symphony Chorus and Chamber Chorus since 1982. He conceived the idea for the CSO’s popular Holiday Pops concerts and has conducted those annual performances since their beginning in 1983. In 2010, he conducted the CSO’s first complete performances of Handel’s Messiah, which were lauded for their “quick pacing and brisk tempos” and the chorus, which “was superbly balanced and in tune and obviously well-rehearsed and confident.” He also prepared the chorus for their Carnegie Hall debut with the CSO in the spring of 2001, where the New York critics praised the “choral singing of impeccable realization and subtle shading.”
During the 2020-21 season he worked to keep the chorus engaged during the pandemic while it was impossible to meet in person. His leading of bi-weekly Zoom meetings with the chorus presented stimulating conversations with national choral leaders as well as composers and solo orchestral members.
From September 1973 until January 2019, he served as the Minister of Music and Liturgy of the 3,400 member First Community Church in Columbus. In that position, he was responsible for two choirs, a staff of singers, conductors and organists, the church's concert series, and coordinated worship/liturgy, art enrichment, and special events, including the annual fall services of music and the word, Soli Deo Gloria, the Festival of Lessons and Carols on Christmas Eve, and the season concluding "MorningSong," all with choir and members of the CSO and CSC. He directed the Chancel Choir on three European tours, at the National Cathedral in DC and the Chamber Singers in Naples, Florida. On the third European tour in June of 2013, he led the choir in concerts in Berlin, Leipzig, Dresden, Prague, and Salzburg, gaining rave reviews for their performance of Mozart's Missa Longa with the Salzburg Cathedral orchestra. He produced and directed eight recordings of the Chancel Choir and demonstrated his piano keyboard skills in a popular duo recording of Gospel Hymns with retired CSO trumpeter Tom Battenberg.
He has served as the Assistant Choral Director at Washington University, visiting Choral Director at Denison and Ohio Wesleyan Universities, and led choral workshops for Trinity Seminary and various professional organizations. He holds degrees from William Jewell College and Florida State University. He has also done extensive post-graduate study at Washington University, and studied conducting at the Tanglewood Music Festival. In 1985, he received the Columbus Dispatch Community Service Award for the Advancement of Culture. In May 2015, he was granted the Honorary Doctor of Divinity degree from Trinity Seminary in Bexley, Ohio.