Judson alumni Jeorge Holmes and Huntley Brown return to perform benefit concert
Christmas is a time for reunions among friends and family. This week, the same can be said of Judson University and alumni Huntley Brown of Aurora and Jeorge Holmes of Elgin.
The two will reunite at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 13, to perform a benefit concert at Judson.
Both were music students at Judson in the '80s -- Brown, a pianist, and Holmes, a singer. Former choir director Edward Thompson paired the two to represent Judson at various tours and concerts at the time.
"I met Huntley, who was coming in from Jamaica as an exchange student, and he was just an incredible pianist," said Holmes. "Then we graduated and we did some things through the years, but both of us had been in ministry at different places for the last 25-plus years, and then we thought let's do a Christmas concert and reunite."
"It's going to be an evening of fun, and also an evening of worship," Huntley added.
During their time apart, the two friends took different paths. Brown, who earned his Bachelor of Arts at Judson and a master of arts at Northern Illinois University in piano performance and pedagogy, became the pianist for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association and, by extension, played extensively all around the world. "
"I traveled to Ireland, China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Japan, Africa and Egypt, Israel and Russia. You name it," Brown said.
Meanwhile, Holmes, who graduated from Judson with a Bachelor of Arts in music and a minor in theology, pastored two churches in the Elgin area and has worked in Christian ministry -- including originating Love Elgin Day -- throughout his post-college career. All the while, the two have stayed in touch and were eager to reunite.
Their concert will focus on Christmas and will be explored in a variety of styles.
"I do opera, Broadway, Big Band, things of that nature. We'll mix those up," Holmes said.
"We play everything, all forms of music to glorify God: Bach, Beethoven, jazz, Jamaican, country, we do it all," Huntley said. "The audience has a taste for all different kinds of music, so we have a responsibility to entertain them so each person going to our concert can hear something they like."
Brown credits his beloved former choir director and lifelong mentor, Thompson, for his ability to bring all forms of music into religious settings.
"When I came from Jamaica, he took me under his wing and he said all forms of music can glorify God. At the time, there was a crisis about what sort of music you can bring in church. (Johnson told me) you can't tell the difference of a Christian C major chord and a secular C major chord."
Brown often turned to his mentor even after he left school for advice on everything from marriage to stage performance, and added that many students have experienced the same relationship with the late Thompson.
"Edward Thompson, our hero, had such a tremendous impact at Judson. We want the world to know about Judson University and we want to give back," he said.
The show will also be a vehicle to raise money for Love Elgin Day, which will take place June 1-2, 2019. It will be the seventh year for the event that organizes local churches to reach out to those in need, according to Holmes, who originated the annual event.
"We do a clothing drive, food drive, and professional and medical services, as well as haircuts and manicures. Helping people to find a connection to help them stabilize."
Concert attendees are encouraged to bring any type of warm clothing with them to the event. The items will be earmarked for people in need in Elgin.
Refreshments will be served after the concert, which takes place in Judson's chapel at 1151 N. State St., Elgin.