Crystal Cathedral musical conductor kills self at famed church
Saturday, December 18th 2004, 11:43 am
News On 6
GARDEN GROVE, Calif. (AP) _ The longtime conductor of the Crystal Cathedral Orchestra had been hospitalized for depression weeks before he shot himself to death at the soaring glass-and-steel church, his wife said.
Johnnie Carl, 57, a composer and arranger who worked with Celine Dion and John Tesh, killed himself Friday after a nine-hour standoff with police that began just before a Christmas pageant.
His wife, Linda Carl, said he had stopped taking a drug earlier this year that helped him control manic depression because of concerns it could harm his kidneys.
Carl was admitted to the University of California, Irvine, Medical Center three weeks ago after his condition worsened, Linda Carl said.
``He was at UCI for about 5 days ... but I don't think he was entirely stabilized,'' she said.
Carl got into an argument Thursday evening with another employee, went back to his office and fired four shots, then barricaded himself in a bathroom and committed suicide as police officers tried to talk to him, authorities said.
Carl had been conductor at the cathedral for nearly 30 years.
The 128-foot-high church, designed in part by architect Philip Johnson and completed in 1980, is home to the Rev. Robert Schuller's Crystal Cathedral Ministries and claims a congregation of more than 10,000.
Carl directed the music on Schuller's internationally televised ``Hour of Power'' broadcast from the cathedral.
He also arranged or recorded music for such artists as Dion, Tesh, Michael Crawford, the London Symphony and Lee Greenwood. He was an arranger and orchestrator on Tesh's ``Live from Red Rocks'' and was an arranger on Dion's Christmas special ``These Are Special Times,'' Schuller spokesman Michael Nason said.
Tesh said Carl was unusual in his ability to handle classical, choral and pop music.
``He was a genius arranger and conductor, one of those guys who lives music 24-7,'' Tesh said. ``He was just a real jolly and energetic and gentle guy, not somebody who screams or yells.''
``Johnnie was a beloved member of our church family and close personal friend,'' Schuller said in a statement. ``He was a creative genius whose beautiful arrangements and superb conducting set new levels of excellence for sacred music.''
The first shots were fired less than two hours before the scheduled start of the cathedral's annual ``Glory of Christmas'' holiday show, for which Carl had arranged the prerecorded music. Some 100 cast members were preparing for the first of Thursday's two programs.