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A Golden Legacy! 1962 - 2012

Volume 39, Issue 4 Fall 2011

November 18 & 19, 2011

Church of St. Peter Gustavus Adolphus College St. Peter, MN

Program highlights on pages 6-7 featuring: 18 Performing Choirs • 3 State Honor Choirs • 3 World Premieres Expanded Interest Sessions for Middle Level & Music and Worship Student and Young Conductor Symposium Music and Worship Festival Celebration • Keynote Address by Weston Noble

Star of the North • Fall 2012

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •

ACDA of Minnesota Board of Directors President��������������������������������������������� Steve Albaugh President-Elect��������������������������������� Thomas Hassig Vice President........................................Brian Stubbs Executive Director������������������������Bruce W. Becker Secretary���������������������������������������������� Amy Johnson Northwest District Chair������������� Bonnie Nelson Northeast District Chair�������������������Joe Osowski Southwest District Chair����������������������Greg Aune Southeast District Chair���������������������Chris Harris Metro West District Chair���������� Paula Holmberg Metro East District Chair�������� Marie Spar Dymit Membership Chair������������������������Bruce W. Becker Advertising Chair������������������� John Kleinwolterink Newsletter Editor�������������������������� Bret Amundson

ACDA of Minnesota Repertoire and Standards Chairs Boy Choirs������������������������������������Aaron Carpenter Children’s & Youth Choirs����������������������������� vacant College and University Choirs���� Angela Broeker Community Choirs���������������������������Steve Boehlke Ethnic & Multicultural Perspectives������������������������������������������Jon Kopplin High School Choirs�������������������������������Steve Deitz Jazz Choirs��������������������������������������������Laura Tempel Junior High/ Middle School Choirs����������������������� Sue Gilsdorf Male Choirs.............................................Mark Potvin Music and Worship������������������������������ Mark Stover Show Choirs�������������������������������� Heather Douglas Two-Year College Choirs�������������������� Karla Miller Women’s Choirs���������������������������������� Kari Douma Youth and Student Activities��������������������������������� Mike Smith Repertoire and Standards Coordinator������������������������������������� Phillip Brown •••

Star of the North Advertising Rates Inside Front/Back Cover 8 1⁄2w x 10h������$300.00 Size A: Full Page 8 1⁄2w x 10h��������������������$250.00 Size B: 8 1⁄2w x 5 1⁄2h��������������������������������$150.00 Size C: 8 1⁄2w x 4 1⁄3h��������������������������������$120.00 Size D: 4 2⁄3w x 10h�������������������������������������� $90.00 Size E: 2 1⁄3w x 10h��������������������������������������� $75.00 Size F: 3 1⁄3w x 4 1⁄2h����������������������������������� $50.00

Star of the North Ad and Article Submission Dates Winter 2012....................................................1/13/12 Spring 2012......................................................4/13/12 Fall 2012...........................................................8/17/12

Star of the North • Fall 2012



President’s Cue........................................................................8 MMEA Update�����������������������������������������������������������������30-31 Youth and Student Activities�����������������������������������������32-33 FMC Endowment Update................................................... 34 ACDA-MN Schedule of Events������������������������������������������������36

40 Features

High School Choirs..........................................41 Jazz Choirs............................................................42 College and University Choirs.......................43 Community Choirs�������������������������������������������44 The Last Word, Bruce Becker................................................. 50

star program highlight: Kasson-Mantorville Concert Choir�������������������������������9-10 Special Feature: Choral Advocates Wanted: Transitioning to Proactive Choral Advocacy, Catherine Davies����������������������������������11-13 Reflections:

dialogue 2011


Dialogue, Brian Stubbs�������������������������������������������������������������� 14 Dialogue, Natalie Cromwell����������������������������������������������������� 16

Guest Feature: Music in the Night, Craig Carnahan����������������������������������22-23 Transitioning Your Focus: Diction, Phrase, and Your Choir, Chet Sommers������������������������������������������������������� 24-25 From the Field:

Head and Heart: Transforming the Singer’s Soul in the Choral Rehearsal, Chris Harris���������������������������������������� 27-28 Contest as a Transformative Experience, Bonnie Nelson������������������������������������������������������ 29




ACDA State Conference Events�����������������������������������������������6-7 New Men’s/Women’s Festival Coordinator���������������������������� 35 R&S Chair Vacancies����������������������������������������������������������������������� 35 FMC Summer Dialogue Scholarships Awarded��������������������� 35 ACDA-MN: A Golden Legacy����������������������������������������������������� 37 Let ACDA-MN “Commend” Your Choral Program������������� 39 ACDA-MN Award Recipient Biolgraphies�������������������������45-47 A Memorial Tribute: Lauretta Graetz................................... 48

Policy Statement on Programming Recognizing the broad diversity of cultures and beliefs by our member directors, by our singers, and by all those touched by performances of choral music, ACDA of Minnesota reaffirms its commitment to balance and diversity in programming. It is important that we, as the leading proponents of choral art in our state, actively encourage and model sensitivity to and awareness of diversity, particularly with regard to sacred and secular repertoire. We recommend that no more than fifty percent of the literature chosen for Honors Choirs, AllState Choirs and Pick Six packets contain music with sacred text. Performances and lists pertaining to music in worship are exempt. Adopted by the ACDA of Minnesota Executive Board, January 13, 1996.

Editor’S Remarks

I’ve recently been inspired by the format of the NPR show This American Life. At the beginning of every show, host Ira Glass reminds the listener, “Each week we choose a theme and bring you stories based on that theme.” Well, here at the Star of the North, we’ve adopted this same technique. Each issue, we will choose a theme and bring you a variety of articles based on personal reflections and professional research. This issue’s theme: Transition.

Bret amundson

College of St. Scholastica

Winter 2012 Ads/Articles Deadline: January 13, 2012

This is a time for change and transition in our ACDA-MN community. Some of our friends may be experiencing transition in their personal lives – transitions surrounding their relationships, transitions involving children, or transitions concerning their health. Some may be experiencing transition in their professional lives – the transition from college student to teacher, transition from teaching to graduate student, or the transition from one job to another. For this issue of the Star of the North, we dive head first into stories of transition in our ACDA-MN community and how these transitions have helped shape the personal and professional lives of its members. This issue’s “Featured Article” by Catherine Davies invites choral directors to examine their current practices regarding advocacy and provides useful tools to transition toward a more proactive approach. Our “From the Field” articles by Chris Harris and Bonnie Nelson each provide useful information about transitioning the focus of our classroom rehearsals. This issue of the Star of the North also brings you stories of job transition. In our “Five Words or Less” segment, Mary Kay Geston speaks about her recent transition to a new job as Visiting Associate Professor of Choral Studies at the University of Colorado, Boulder. In our “Student Chapter Corner,” Ryan Werdon speaks about the wild transitions from college student to first year choir director. Finally, you will notice that the Star of the North continues to transition into a more clear and user-friendly format. Beginning with this issue, we will highlight a Minnesota choral program in our “Star Program Spotlight” feature. For this issue, you will meet Clark Johnson and the Kasson-Mantorville High School Choirs. You will also notice there have been some design changes to the publication, including the introduction of our new ACDA-MN logo and a new “Schedule of Events” section. As always, please let me know if you have any insights or information you would like to share. I hope you enjoy the Star of the North!

A Golden Legacy! 1962 - 2012 The Star of the North is published three times a year by ACDA of Minnesota: Fall/Conference, Winter, and Spring. Articles may be submitted to the copy editor for consideration: Bret Amundson, SotN Editor The College of St. Scholastica 1200 Kenwood Ave., Duluth, MN 55811 (218) 625-4983 Office (206) 660-6300 Cell Visit our website for updates: Advertising materials and photos should be sent directly to: By All Means Graphics 17 Bridge Square Northfield, MN 55057 (507) 663-7937 For more information on advertising contracts, rates and specifications, please contact: John Kleinwolterink or (320) 589-4400, ext. 2062

ACDA of Minnesota reserves the right to edit and approve all submitted materials. •

ACDA Advocacy Resolution Whereas, the human spirit is elevated to a broader understanding of itself through study and performance in the aesthetic arts, and whereas, serious cutbacks in funding and support have steadily eroded arts institutions in our country, be it resolved that all citizens of the United States actively voice their affirmative and collective support for necessary funding at the local, state and national levels of education and government, to ensure the survival of arts programs for this and future generations.

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •

Star of the North • Fall 2012

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •

President’sCUE Steven Albaugh

Rosemount High School

Welcome to Fall! The temperatures have lowered a bit and you can feel the freshness of an impending autumn in the air. It is an exciting time of year! This edition of the Star of the North features many different perspectives on transitions alongside the news and information of our organization. I applaud Bret Amundson, editor of our award-winning newsletter, in looking beyond our event news and information and bringing freshness to our layout and content.

In the article, “Human Transitions: Helping People Work Through Major Change,” Murray Hiebert and Bruce Klatt compare the concepts of change and transition, relating their definitions to people in the workplace. They state that change is the actual physical move, restructure, or change of location or procedures. This change takes place outside of the person. Hiebert and Klatt state that transition is the human reorientation that we go through in coming to terms with a change. This inner transition often takes much longer than the outside or physical change. This way of addressing transition identifies it as internal and emotional. There are many educators in our state who are addressing a change and the corresponding transition this Fall. This may be due to school budgetary cuts, shifts in teaching load, or even beginning in an entirely new building. This past summer found several of my teaching friends being released from their districts due to staff reductions, tenured teachers who found themselves without a paycheck and back into the job search. Luckily, they were all fortunate to be in new districts and positions this Fall. They represent hundreds of music educators dealing with change and transition this school year. How do we effectively create positive experiences with our students and singers when we are dealing with an internal and emotional transition?

Student/Singer Focus Inspires the Daily Experience

We have to continue to remember whom we are there to serve. Let’s face it – we were called to this area of work because of a passion for making a difference. By keeping our students and singers as our main motivation for decisions and actions, we will

Star of the North • Fall 2012

regain that inward happiness. It is too easy to make a decision with the gossip and politics of upheaval. Always make decisions based on what is best for the students – you will have better results.

Collaboration will help ­create the Experience

It is easy to feel alone in a new position – or feel that you are fighting these cuts and job changes all alone. Collaboration could be the key to survival! If you are lucky to be in a multiple person department, those discussions are a bit easier than those educators who are teaching K-12. However, your inner passion for making a difference will inspire you to look beyond your classroom for input from others. ACDA-MN is a musical community and resource that is available for YOU.

let Personal Integrity Guide the Experience

No matter what you are faced with for cuts or job placement, always do the right thing. You set the standard of excellence within your own department and program. Our own ability to find life balance and to take care of ourselves physically and mentally will guide our energies in the rehearsal and classroom setting. Challenging as it is, only when you are truly healthy and motivated are you able to address the needs of your students and singers. Creating the absolute best experience for our singers will help us to stay focused on what is truly important and, in turn, help those of us dealing with an internal and emotional transition. Transition can be an experience that unites, energizes, and inspires our work and our teaching. ACDA-MN is also going through several transitions. As I begin my tenure as President, Brian Stubbs moves on to Past-President with his first order of business being the development of this year’s ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue. I want to congratulate Brian for a sensational Dialogue week filled with informative sessions and a chance to converse with choral educators and conductors representing many different levels of music making. As usual, it was an inspiring week! See you all at the 35th Annual Fall Conference!

Star program highlight

Kasson-Mantorville Concert Choir Clark Johnson currently teaches mixed choirs in grades 9, 10, and 11-12, voice lessons, and 3 extra-curricular ensembles. All choirs at KassonMantorville High School are non-auditioned and consist of 80-100 members. Until two years ago, Clark also taught the boy’s choirs in grades 7-9. There are 120-150 students per grade in choir. Clark Johnson Director 34 Years Teaching 30 Years at Kasson-Mantorville

In what ways have you seen “transitions” of students in your program over your long tenure in teaching? My first reaction to this question was, “Have students changed greatly in 34 years?” After several years at Kasson-Mantorville, I was struggling with communication with choir and decided to give them several opened ended questions. The last prompt I gave was “Music is…” I was stunned by their answers – “beautiful,” “a big part of my life,” “what I live for,” and “what I love.” I realized they had the same passion for music that I had, but somewhere we had lost our ability to share it. I vowed never to lose this connection with my choirs. The key for me became engaging students in the music through the study of the poetry, historical background, and the composer’s compositional style and intent to help them experience an emotional response to the music. The challenge over the years has been to keep

them involved in music as they experience an educational atmosphere of testing and a narrowing focus on activities. This past year, the seniors in choir made a video for our last concert. I asked them to share their feelings about music, choir, and friendship. In both humorous and serious settings, they expressed the same thoughts I had received 30 years ago. A passion for music making is still very alive in our students today. They are active in composing, Christian music groups, and garage bands, with several seniors planning careers in vocal music, composing, and youth ministry with a music focus. What has changed greatly in the last thirty years is our access to technology. I started with a few college records for listening resources and now have the entire web to explore. My students access their resources and assignments at anytime from home. The learning reaches far beyond our short time in the classroom. Last fall my choir was invited by Dr. David Dickau to sing on the Minnesota State University-Mankato Invitational Choral Festival. In preparation, my students studied his composition “i carry your heart” in class and at home. They sent me questions with their analysis of the music, composition style, and on composing in general. We then had a Skype session with Dr. Dickau to share our questions and his responses. My students’ written reflections following the Skype session, the festival day, and performance clearly demonstrated their deep understanding and wonderful connection to the music. It will always be vital to adapt our teaching styles to our ever-changing world. We certainly need to reach our students in their fast, multi-tasking technological world, but at the core, students’ expectations of music education haven’t changed. Our students, past or present, deserve and expect high quality music they can appreciate for its beauty and aesthetic experience.

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •

Director’s Personal Pick 6 – Clark Johnson Kali’s Song Martin Donnelly/Donald Patriquin Earthsongs S-194 SSA Ensemble: H. S. Women’s Ensemble

Reflections of a Lad at Sea • The Captain’s Mate • Thoughts of Home • The Ghost Ship By Don Besig and Nancy Price Shawnee Press 35018017 2-part Ensemble: 7th Boys

When Allen-A-Dale Went A-Hunting Robert L. de Pearsall Presser 332-14437 (other editions are also available) SATB Ensemble: H. S. Chamber Singers

Christmas Secular Songs arr. by Don L. Collins Cambiata Press 2-4 part Ensemble: 7-8 Boys/or with Girls

The Gartan Mother’s Lullaby Irish/Neil Ginsberg Santa Barbara Music Publishing SBMP 314 SATB Ensemble: H. S. Choir

Come Travel With Me Scott Farthing Walton/Hal Leonard HL08501432 TTB Ensemble: 8 & 9 Boys

NORTHSTAR MALE CHORAL FESTIVAL SATURDAY FEB 25, 2012 Hopkins High School Performing Arts Center

Vocal coaching and performance with


Recognized as the "premier men's vocal ensemble in the United States" by Fanfare

The Northstar Male Choral Festival is dedicated to the development and perpetuation of male choral singing in high school and beyond. Festival is FREE to participating ensembles

Sponsored by the Apollo Male Chorus

Interested ensembles please contact Darren Jackson 952-240-3155 or High School male ensembles of 8 or more preferred This activity funded, in part, by the Minnesota Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.


Star of the North • Fall 2012

A Minnesota Musical Tradition Since 1895

Special Feature Choral Advocates Wanted: Transitioning to Proactive Choral Advocacy

I remember very clearly sitting in on an enrichment session during Chorus America’s A Cappella Conducting Masterclass in 2007. It was an open question-and-answer session with the three principal coaches, Philip Brunelle, Anton Armstrong, and Sigrid Johnson. One of the fellows asked Sig what she worried about most as a conductor during rehearsal. He offered up two or three possibilities. Without even thinking about it, Sig Catherine Davies immediately reeled off 20 different things she Director of Operations could be thinking about during the time it took for and Membership Services, her choir to sing 16 bars. But the goal of a good Chorus America conductor, she explained, is to act on clear priArlington, VA orities. In other words, pick two of the things you just observed or heard that will make the most impact if fixed. Maybe three of the other things will fix themselves. And maybe in the next 16-bar phrase, your priorities will be two more items on the list. Not sacrificing excellence – but maximizing rehearsal effectiveness. And that’s just within the context of one 16-bar phrase in one rehearsal! That doesn’t begin to capture the responsibilities or the to-do list of building a successful choral program at the K-12, college, or community level. The list of additional responsibilities for each of those roles, which readers know more intimately and could list more quickly than I, I’m sure often makes rehearsals feel like a welcome respite. And Chorus America’s research shows that a growing number of choral conductors are knitting together careers out of multiple engagements: teaching high school and conducting a church choir; Director of Choral Activities at a local university and conducting an adult volunteer chorus in the community; elementary school music teacher, associate director of an independent children’s chorus, and church choir director. To boil it down: choral directors are ridiculously busy!

As choral directors, we can no longer solely rely on the “art to speak for itself”; the community has to speak for the art, too.

The numbers tell the story

Due to all those busy choral directors, there’s good news about our field: Chorus America’s research also shows that more people sing in choirs than participate in any other performing art form: 42.6 million adults and children, in fact. And certainly, regardless of what we may think about the vehicles, choral singing is experiencing a highly visible moment due to shows like Glee on Fox, BBC’s The Choir, and the Sing-Off on NBC. But now contrast these two statistics from the Chorus Impact Study (the full report is available free on Chorus America’s website): 65% percent of adult choral singers who are still singing today report that they started singing in elementary or middle school. And yet, 1 in 4 one in four educators say there is no choir program in their schools. We could use an economist’s supply-and-demand model, or a biologist’s ecosystem, but any way you look at it, the continued threat to arts education (and specifically, choral music education) from scheduling pressures, a narrow focus on standardized test subjects, and ever-more-limited funding will pose a serious challenge to the continued vitality of the choral field unless we all work together to make a compelling case for our art form. As choral directors, we can no longer solely rely on the “art to speak for itself”; the community has to speak for the art, too.

Advocacy Isn’t Only About Marching on Washington, DC

Chorus America has seen that the most successful choir programs at all levels are the ones that not only maintain the highest standards of artistic excellence, but also have an active commitment to advocacy. But when you hear “advocacy,” what do you see, how do you react? Do you shudder and roll your eyes? Or nod emphatically? Do you picture

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


a lobbyist on the steps of the Capitol here in DC? Or a community activist with a bullhorn in Powderhorn Park? Or organizations like Chorus America and Americans for the Arts and the Minnesota Citizens for the Arts?

So, when you hear “advocacy,” do you ever picture yourself, engaged in your daily activities? Doing things that are already on the to-do list? Attending a faculty committee meeting or PTA meeting? Putting on a concert? Hopefully you do. If so, your transition into a proactive advocate is already well under way. If not, making this transition will be increasingly important to maintaining a successful program.

Advocacy at the federal level is a necessary and important part of our modern democracy. But so often the world of Washington, DC, is not an immediate priority in our lives. For example, writing an email to supChorus America Is Here …the best time to advocate for your to Help port the passage of bill S1175 because you got an email stating that it was important program is when things are going well. Chorus America, recognizing both to “ACT NOW!” just seems like one more that choral directors are busy folks thing on the already overwhelming to-do list and that grassroots-level, local advofor choral music educators. cacy is absolutely vital for the sustainability of our field, recently developed a tool designed specifically to help make Fair enough. Federal advocacy is just one piece of the overall the transition easier for K-12 educators. Making the Case advocacy puzzle. Plus, there are organizations like Americans for for Your School Choir: An Advocacy Guide is a completely free the Arts, Minnesota Citizens for the Arts, and Chorus America resource available to everyone at http://www.chorusamerica. that make sure the drumbeat never stops. (For example, Choorg/choiradvocacyguide/free. And while directed at K-12 rus America recently signed a petition supporting bill S1175 educators, many of the recommendations and the guide itself prepared by the National Association for Music Education.) are applicable to college/university and community choirs as And, because the legislative universe is such a complicated one, well. almost all federal advocacy is done in reaction – to the upcoming vote, to the breaking news story, to the email you receive Making the Case includes: telling you to act. • Advice on how to articulate the impact of your choral music program; • Ideas for working together with your school administration; • Suggestions on how to reach out to potential collaborators in the community (and examples of successful schoolcommunity chorus partnerships); • Data from notable, quotable sources that illustrate the value of singing for children; • Strategies for making every performance an advocacy ­opportunity.

Proactive Advocacy Is a Long-Term Solution

Unleash your talents. Express yourself. Music plays an important role in your life—it does in ours, too! At Concordia University, St. Paul, we have the top-caliber faculty and facilities to support you and incorporate your passion into an education. Whether you’re looking for an area of study or a mode of expression, we have the opportunities that are right for you. Visit our website to learn more about exciting music opportunities at Concordia. 651-641-8230


Star of the North • Fall 2012

Advocating for your choir program often begins during a crisis – when teaching positions are threatened or budget shortfalls need to be made up quickly. However, the best time to advocate for your program is when things are going well. Then, if a crisis hits, you are not trying to convince a school board member (or the Dean of Faculty or a foundation program officer) of the importance of your program for the first time. If that school board member heard your chorus perform when s/he was not worrying about the budget shortfall, or if your superintendent welcomed the audience to the all-state choir concert that took place in your district, they have already witnessed first-hand the value and discipline of choral singing and may be poised to become allies.

Here are a few facts that lie at the core of integrating advocacy into your daily routine. As choral directors, when you repeat these statements often enough and demonstrate them through your work, you will convince others that: • Choral singing is an integral part of arts education, which is a necessary component of a complete and competitive education. • Choral singing builds community. • Choral singing has intrinsic value. And who are those “others” that it is so important to convince? Well, there are many answers, but the two most important groups are your students and their parents. Be sure to ask your young singers what being in choir means to them and put that information to use. The Chorus Impact Study shows that 80% of schools with high parental involvement have choir programs versus just 61% of schools where parents are not involved. Word of mouth is far-and-away the most effective type of promotion these days (researchers now actively identify “influencers” in national studies; people who are key to shaping the opinions of their friends and colleagues), and peer-to-peer relationships yield the highest dividends for individual fundraising. So, making sure your singers’ parents are on board is absolutely key because they will be able to successfully lobby the PTA, the school board, and the local school administration.

you always want your singers to be front and center. It’s their success that is the story, not your abilities. And when it comes to promoting the well-being of your singers, it’s perfectly acceptable to put aside the tendency to be “Minnesota Nice.” To learn more, visit the following links: Chorus America, 2009. The Chorus Impact Study: How Children, Adults & Communities Benefit from Choruses. Available at Chorus America, 2011. Making the Case for Your School Choir: An Advocacy Guide. Available at http://www.chorusamerica. org/choiradvocacyguide/free About the Author: Since 2006, Catherine Davies has served as Director of Operations and Membership Services for Chorus America. Previously, she was Director of Operations and Executive Assistant at VocalEssence and sang with Minnesota Chorale and the VocalEssence Chorus. She’s looking forward to coming back to the Cities when VocalEssence hosts the Annual Chorus America Conference in Minneapolis, MN from June 13-16, 2012.

Then, why not have a student speak at every concert about what choir means to them? Make sure you’ve invited every teacher and every administrator to every concert. Acknowledge them with a round of applause so that your students will know that their biology teacher came to hear them sing. Make sure that you then attend as many basketball games and QuizBowl competitions as your schedule will permit, in support of your colleagues. Make sure that your superintendent’s office knows that your choir is ready to sing for district functions whenever necessary. If your school has a newsletter or daily announcements that include student achievements, be sure that you let the appropriate people know how your students performed in the state vocal competitions. Making the Case includes these ideas and more for ways that you can stop reacting and start weaving advocacy into everything that you already do.

Don’t Be Shy

But, maybe when you hear “advocacy,” you hear “self-promotion.” That was one of the questions I was asked when presenting to the Nebraska Choral Directors Association summer conference attendees about Making the Case back in June. Sure, some of it is straight-up self-promotion and I know that’s not always comfortable, especially for Minnesotans! But really, the most successful conductors know that

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


Dialogue Reflection The 26th ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue was held on the campus of St. Olaf College, August 2-5. Once again, it proved to be a week of rejuvenation, of connections, of laughter and, of course, singing.

Brian Stubbs

Brainerd High School

With topics ranging from formulating elementary school choruses to learning about the Supreme Court ruling on the utilization of sacred literature in the public school setting, there was something for everyone. Mary Goetze proved to be an invaluable resource for music educators calling upon her vast experience and effective techniques for developing cultural understanding in the elementary music classroom. Steve Hoemberg moved us from laughter to tears as he shared his techniques for teaching music literacy to adolescent boys. Dione Peterson helped provide clarity about the controversial issue of sacred music in the public school as she shared her personal story dealing with a court case that made it to the Supreme Court. Judy Sagen and Kari Werdahl delved further into this topic, sparking an energized dialogue about current practices regarding understanding and appreciating diverse classroom cultures and our treatment of sacred choral music.

strategies, reminding us why we started down the road to becoming a choral director. Eight major score reading sessions, led by our R&S chairs, were interspersed throughout the week. Attendees left the conference with stacks of music in all categories, including some “gems” from our early morning hosts, Randy Schafer, Judy Sagen and Mike Smith, who warmed us up each day with titles that they have come back to numerous times. We learned about web technology from our webmaster, Tom Rossin, and our transition to on-line honor choir auditions from Michael Skaar, Barb Geier, and Bruce Becker. Our first ever Exhibits Fair brought 22 businesses to the campus to connect with attendees. The MN State High School League visited for the first time, offering a training session for solo/ensemble and large group contest judges. Social time ranged from coffee breaks to meals to afterglows each evening. Our final banquet was a wonderful opportunity to celebrate choral music advocates who have worked to make our world a better place by supporting choral music in their communities. Emceed by our new president, Steve Albaugh, it was an evening of wonderful food, joyous laughter, and excellent company.

Our All-State conductors Geoffrey Boers, Sandra Snow, and Axel Theimer shared their unique perspectives, and we found that each of their presentations connected to one another as if they had planned to present together. Angie Broeker inspired and enlightened the Director’s Chorus with her programming and rehearsal

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2 1. A superb Director’s ­Chorus! 2. Our cheerful Registrar Amy Jo Cherner 3. ACDA-MN Board Member Recognition: Tom Hassig, Mark ­Potvin, Kari Werdahl, Mary ­Whitlock


Star of the North • Fall 2012

Many thanks to all who volunteered their time and resources to make this year’s Summer Dialogue run smoothly: Amy Jo Cherner and Chad Felton for their help with registration and housing, Amy Johnson for running technology, Andrew Beard for timing speakers, Gladys Hovland, Ryan Luhrs, Jessica Dant, Michelle Gehrz, and Karla Cahlander for accompanying our reading sessions, and Bruce Becker for keeping the entire week running smoothly.


Mark your calendars for next year’s ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue. We will be at St. John’s University in Collegeville, August 7-11, 2012. See you next summer!




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4. 5. 6. 7.


Angie Broeker fine tuning the Director’s Chorus President Steve Albaugh in State of the State All-State conductor Sandra Snow 2011 ACE Award Recipients: Rob Franchino, Steven ­Staruch, Jane Fox, Joanne Webber, Jerry Kaldor 8. All-State conductor Axel Theimer performing his magic! 9. Our presidential leadership team: Steve Albaugh, Judy Sagen, Brian Stubbs 10. All-State conductor Geoffrey Boers fine tuning the Mixed Chorus To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


Dialogue Reflection Natalie Cromwell Southwest Christian High School

As I drove onto the campus at St. Olaf College in Northfield, memories of my first day of kindergarten quickly flooded my mind. I was going to be the “new kid.” Here I am, fresh out of college with a full time high school teaching position and NO experience! I was on my way to the 2011 ACDA Dialogue with few acquaintances, no idea of what to expect, and a notebook full of empty paper. Some might say I was ready to tackle my new job with all the confidence that any first year teacher undeniably possesses! Because I was one of the FMC Scholarship recipients, I arrived on campus a few hours earlier than everyone else to help with registration set-up and last minute details. As more of the Scholarship recipients started showing up, I began thinking, “Hey… I’m not going to be the only new kid who doesn’t know anyone!” Quickly, made friends with my fellow FMC Scholarship recipients and decided that it might not be such a scary week after all! As more ACDA-MN members began showing up, I was more than delighted to be welcomed into the “club” by almost each and every person that walked through the door. People that I talked with during the first day introduced themselves to me and seemed genuinely interested in learning something about me. To say that I was impressed with the warm reception would be an understatement; I was overwhelmed!

presented the first session of the day. I grew up singing in a few of her ensembles and always saw her working with my choir directors, so I was quite surprised to see her presenting at the Minnesota Dialogue! The session was entitled “Sacred Music in The Public Schools” and dealt with a court case that was based out of the Sioux Falls School District. My sister is the current choir director at the school at which Dione previously taught, so I was well aware of the issue of “sacred versus secular,” but wasn’t entirely aware of its history. Dione gave an eye-opening testimony of the effects that undiversified programming might have on not only a school, but also an entire district and state. I also had the opportunity to observe several AllState rehearsals. These rehearsals may have been some of the most inspiring times of the week for me. I sat in on a few of Dr. Geoffrey Boers’ rehearsals with the mixed choir and each time felt more astonished than the last. He had absolute control of the ensemble; it seemed as if he was


Dione Peterson, whom I knew as the Fine Arts Coordinator from my hometown (Sioux Falls, SD)


2 1. Philip Brown cruising the Exhibits Fair 2. Reading session mania 3. Michael Sellheim enjoying a “Um Ya Ya” moment!


Star of the North • Fall 2012

truly the potter and the choir was his clay. Dr. Boers also presented a session that he called “Grace in Hard Times.” One of the things that he mentioned during the session really hit me. He charged all of us with this challenge: “Rather than trying to be motivating, be compelling.” What an inspiring and complex thought to take into my first year of teaching! After attending the invigorating directors chorus rehearsals lead by Dr. Angela Broeker, the practical sessions presented by Dr. Mary Goetze, the inspiring words of Dr. Sandra Snow, the entertaining – yet enlightening – sessions on accessible sightreading techniques presented by Steve Hoemberg, and the enthusiastic presentation on choral tone and blend given by Dr. Axel Theimer, I feel energized and ready to confidently (but not too confidently…) take on my first year of teaching high school choir. So, as a first year “newbie” in the ACDA-MN world, I want to thank everyone who was involved in making this year’s Summer Dialogue an incredible experience. I was able to gain a wealth of practical tools to take my choirs to a new level and I will certainly be back next year for more! In the words of Dr. Sandra Snow, this year is all about “actualizing what I’ve been dreaming about!”






4, A Directors Chorus golden moment 5. Are you thinking what I’m thinking? 6. National headliner Mary Goetze 7. The perfect “oh”! Thanks, Robin! 8. Some people’s kids! ACDA-MN members all in the family! front: Steve Boehlke and Sarah Gilbertson; Judy Sagen and Amy Jo Cherner; back: Lin Warren and Lucas Warren; Bruce Phelps and Stephanie Phelps

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


Legacy Legacy...Illuminating the Past...

Informing the Present...Inspiring the Future An Interview with Minnesota Choral Director and Church Musician Ronald A. Nelson By Jason M. Horner Artistic Director, The Elizabethan Singers Chancel Choir Director, ­Minnetonka Lutheran Church, St. Paul, MN

Ronald A. Nelson

Ronald (“Ronnie”) Nelson is a well-respected and accomplished church musician, organist, composer and conductor. As a graduate of St. Olaf College, Ronnie graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor of Music degree and went on to receive his Master of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison. In 1949, Ronnie began his music career teaching middle and elementary school music in Rockford, Illinois. He soon transitioned into full time church work at Tabor Lutheran Church, where he established a Saturday Choir School. In 1955, he accepted the position as Director of Music at Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park, Minnesota and held that post for the next 37 years. While at Westwood, Ronnie established eight graded choirs, directed the Arbach Singers, and served as a clinician at choir festivals, conferences, and conventions around the country. Since retirement, Ronnie has served interim posts at Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis and Good Shepherd Lutheran in Edina. Presently, he serves as organist for monthly Vespers in the chapel at Becketwood Cooperative. Ronnie edited the Alleluia Series, a comprehensive graded course of worship and music study for children published by Augsburg Fortress. He also wrote an Early Childhood Volume for the Stepping Stones Series for the Choristers Guild. His


Star of the North • Fall 2012

liturgical settings are well recognized and often used in many Lutheran churches throughout the country and abroad. His major compositions include commissions through the American Composers Forum such as his cantata, Building Bridges, a Continental Harmony commission for a group of children’s and youth choirs in Concord, North Carolina, a Faith Partners Commission for three Wisconsin parishes of various denominations, and a Faith Partners Commission for two Hutchinson, MN parishes. Ronnie continues to compose music for choral ensembles, organ, and piano. Ronnie received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from St. Olaf College in 1967, the F. Melius Christiansen Lifetime Achievement Award in Church Music from ACDA of Minnesota in 1985, and the Faithful Servant Award from the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians in 2007. For me, Ronnie has been a source of constant inspiration. As a small child, I remember hearing my mother sing from his liturgical settings while leaning against her chest in church. I have felt Ronnie’s ever-present warmth and kindness as he’s constantly supported my personal growth as a musician. I enjoy the lively conversations I have with him and the opportunities to hear him and his wife perform piano duets in their living room. Ronnie has given us a legacy of music and inspiration, for which I am ever grateful. The following interview was conducted at his residence at Becketwood Cooperative on March 24, 2011.

When did you know you wanted to become a choral director? I think the seeds were planted when I was in high school. My choir director, Linden Lundstrom, was a St. Olaf graduate and a great inspiration to me. He was fearless in throwing masterworks at us that most high schools at that time were not tackling. For those of us who were interested, he even set up a choir conducting class. Linden’s main emphasis was, “Don’t talk so much. They come to sing, not to hear you talk.” He really became a life-long mentor to me; when he retired, we used to meet once a month for breakfast. My decision to become a choral director was solidified at St. Olaf, singing under Olaf Christiansen. I had absolutely magic and hypnotic moments while singing under his direction. I don’t think I understood at the time what a fine conductor he was. Additionally, I studied composition with F. Melius Christiansen in his home when I was a senior at St. Olaf. Are there any memories of your first year as a choral director that are particularly vivid? I had some crazy ideas. One of the things that I did with this old established church choir was that I decided that some of the sopranos were really altos and some of the altos should really be sopranos. So I had them count off. The “ones” were sopranos in this piece. The “twos” were sopranos in this other piece. I don’t know how I got away with it. But they were so patient. Except for one mother who said, “My daughter is a soprano. She will not sing alto.” What were some of the ideas you implemented to build or recruit singers into your programs? At Tabor Lutheran Church, one of the proposals that I made to the administration was to start a choir school that took place every Saturday. Because my old high school director was also a church musician, he had spent time visiting and researching boy choir schools in Europe. Since Tabor Lutheran Church couldn’t have a resident choir school, I wanted to try a Choir School on Saturdays. So I visited every home in our relatively small congregation to recruit students to join our choir school. When the Saturday school was off and running, I started something that I continued until my retirement – a special choir (semi-select) that was willing to come to extra rehearsals (in addition to the full Saturday mornings) to do more challenging music. My first group was a group of six elementary school boys – three sopranos, two second sopranos, and one sturdy alto – who often performed three part music at that little church. In future years we did open this group to girls, and it expanded from there.

Two years later I was asked to supervise the beginning of a Choir School at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in Rockford – about a mile from Tabor. For that last year in Rockford I divided my Saturday and Sunday mornings between the two churches. What were some of the special performance events that your choirs participated in? After I started my master’s work in Wisconsin, I would commute from Rockford two days a week. For one of my composition courses I wrote a cantata and introduced it to my church choir at Tabor in Rockford, Illinois. That same choir came up to Madison to sing the work as a part of my conducting recital. After I moved to Westwood Lutheran Church in St. Louis Park, Minnesota, the Westwood A cappella Choir was invited to perform at the St. Olaf Choir Festival twice. The Westwood Choristers would tour every year as was a tradition for the kids that put in the extra work. For several years in a row Phillip Brunelle invited the A Cappella Choir to perform major works with the Plymouth Music Series. Performing major works with the Westwood Choirs proved, I hope, that church choirs can work extra performances into their schedules without cheating their weekly duties. *In 1976 and 1977 the Westwood Choirs collaborated with the Plymouth Music Series to perform The Dream of Gerontius by Edward Elgar and Une Cantate de Noel by Arthur Honegger in their Welcome Christmas! event. For the latter work, our dauntless Chorister kids took on the children’s choir part, including the stratospheric final descant! Who are the conductors that continue to inspire you today? There are too many mention, but of course Anton Armstrong is a great inspiration. I think Chris Aspaas is a great up and coming star. I should mention Robert Shaw as I went to at least four or five of his summer workshops at Westminster Choir School. We’d rehearse eight hours a day for two weeks,

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


but he had a rehearsal technique that would save our voices despite the long hours. His rehearsal techniques really transformed my rehearsals and were a tremendous shot in the arm for me when I had been at Westwood Lutheran Church for twentyfive years. Diction for me was always a problem; if I took it too far it tended to get choppy. Shaw was wonderful about diction. He would give a specific time value to the consonants so that his groups could have perfect diction and still have a wonderful line, which is ideal. Can you name five choral chestnuts of repertoire that you would recommend to conductors? The first piece I want to mention is a gem that I never hear done anymore. It is the piece that inspired me the most when I was in the St. Olaf Choir, Adoramus te of Giuseppe Corsi. Some people might say that Olaf milked that seventeenth century piece, but the emotion was already there, and he could draw it out. I hope that it can have a resurrection; I really feel it is worthwhile. Of course the Mozart Ave Verum Corpus; the chorales from the Bach Passions; Mendelssohn’s He Watching Over Israel; Who with Grieving Soweth by Herman Schein; John Rutter’s 23rd Psalm; E’en So, Lord Jesus, Quickly Come by Paul Manz. You know tomorrow I would probably choose five different pieces, but some of them never change. In your view, how has the programming of repertoire changed over the years? We read about this in letters to the editor and other publications too: There’s been a neglect of the masterworks in favor of contemporary works. We need to perform new works too, but I think our singers deserve both. As you listen to choirs of today, how have the components of choral music performance evolved? I think in general it’s been a freeing up of the voice. The prior concept of blend involved singing with no vibrato in order to straighten out the tone. I think now (and I always kind of wondered about it) you don’t really get a blend that you can appreciate using that technique. You tend to get a lot of strained sounds from the voice. Vocal freedom allows you to blend in a more natural way. I remember when Joel Revzen said in a rehearsal, “A little less vibrato, but don’t take it all away, because it will sound out of tune.” I think one thing that is important is the moving line of a phrase. Music never stands still. I made a practice of always doing some melismatic


Star of the North • Fall 2012

music. I found this so healthy for my sopranos. Every year, some Haydn, some Handel, something with a lot of runs in it, then stressing the lightness of the tone. Looking back, what has been the value and impact of ACDA upon your professional career? The beginning of ACDA-MN was an exciting development in choral music in Minnesota. Just the idea of life-long learning helped keep us all interested. There’s always something new to share, new to hear, and people to hear from. ACDA-MN is a great network of sharing and I’ve always felt supported and enriched by this community. But I think too many church musicians have felt, “It’s not for me.” From the beginning, we tried to make sure that church music was not neglected, but I think we have to keep trying to reach out to those people. I think ACDA was intentional in being inclusive of all choral groups and divisions. I really take my hat off to those people who dedicate so much to this organization. You have composed music for Liturgies. The most well known is in the Evangelical Lutheran Worship Book: Setting 4. What can you tell us about composing this setting? I always do better when creating arrangements of other people’s tunes. So for me, composing ELW Setting 4 was a real challenge. I’ll have to say that having congregations sing my music (not just choirs!) was the biggest thrill for me. It’s just fantastic. How has church music and choral singing in the church evolved in your career? How much time do we have? I think it has gone up…and it has gone down, particularly in church. A friend of mine was music director and organist at a church. The pastor brought her into his office and said, “We are examining some other things now, so we don’t need the choir anymore” and she lost her job. The choir wasn’t happy, but it happened. I think the same thing is happening with children’s choirs. Community children’s choirs have expanded, but church children’s choirs have not. I think this is what we need to stress with our clergy. What role can future music educators, church musicians, and choral conductors play in today’s worship environment? I have a great concern for the children who never hear hymns because of contemporary services. Some of us have

been pushing church leaders to have at least one traditional hymn in today’s contemporary services. At Westwood we had six purposes: worship, serve, connect, invite, give, and grow. If children are provided with an opportunity to sing in choir then they can experience all of these things as children. They don’t have to wait until they are adults. By then they are grounded in them and they will want to keep doing them for the rest of their lives. “People who sing, pray twice” is more than a cute saying -- adults still come back to me and say, “I remember this song and it helped so much through a difficult time in my life.” What advice or words of wisdom would you give the emerging choral director of today? Do it only if your love for it -- the planning, the nitty-gritty of rehearsal, as well as performance --provides all the affirmation that you need. There’s no substitute for continuing study and meticulous preparedness. For me, what a joy, to be able

to spend my career making music in the church, because in the church is where the real action is! Special thanks to Nick Peter for providing the dates and images from VocalEssence.

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Guest Feature music in the night

craig carnahan Vice President of Programs, American Composers Forum


Last September, ACDA-MN announced the launch of DD: I was honored to receive this commission the Commissioning Consortium Project, an exciting from ACDA of Minnesota in celebration of their new program in which twelve SATB choral ensembles 50th anniversary. This was a new experience for were selected to collaborate in a statewide commisme. I had never composed for more than one sioning consortium with noted Minnesota composer choir at a time prior to this commission. I have and conductor David Dickau of Mankato. The choirs always tried very hard to tailor each piece to chosen to participate in this project are: the commissioning ensemble. This time I had to think about the range of choirs and write a piece • Brainerd High School, Brian Stubbs, director that would be appropriate. I write most of my • Breck School, Lisa Doering, director music for a target audience that includes good • Buffalo High School, Michael Walsh, director high school choirs, university • Henry Sibley High School, choirs, and good community Aaron Kapaun, ­director ensembles. I wrote this piece • Hopkins High School, Philip for that group of choirs. I Brown, director believe that all of the com• Minnehaha Academy, Karen missioning groups fit into Lutgen, director that designation. • Princeton High School, Mark CC: Are you familiar with Potvin, director all of the choirs involved in • Rosemount High School, this project? Gina Toso, director DD: No, I am not. I have • Sauk Centre High School, worked with some and heard Bonnie Nelson, ­director others in performance but I • Underwood High School, do not know all of them. I Dana Flint, director know that there are some • University of Minnesotareally fine choirs in the group. Morris, Kenneth Hodgson, I wanted to be sure to chaldirector lenge the outstanding choirs David Dickau • Virginia High School, Matt I knew well. Krage, director CC: In any commission, communication The resulting piece – Music in the Night – will be prebetween the composer and conductor is miered at the 2011 ACDA-MN State Conference at essential. How are you managing that with Gustavus Adolphus College by a choir comprised of twelve conductors? 6-8 voices from each chorus participating in the conDD: This again is unique to this commission. sortium, conducted by David Dickau. Normally I have many conversations with the commissioning director. In this case, I have only I recently had an opportunity to talk with the comhad a single conversation with a few of the conposer about this unique project. ductors. I hope that they might have an expectation of this piece based on what they have expeCC: Most commissions are from one or two rienced of my music in the past. I think this piece ensembles. Describe the opportunities – as is in line with that expectation so I hope there well as challenges – you’ve experienced writare no surprises. There is a bit of divisi that may ing for a consortium comprised of twelve be a challenge for some of the choirs. choirs.

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CC: Settling on a text is one of the most important decisions for a choral commission. Describe the process you went through to find the ideal text. DD: It was interesting going through the text selection process. I always want this to be a collaborative effort. I feel that if the commissioning organization is enthusiastic about the text, I am well on my way to delivering a piece they will enjoy. As a choral composer, text is everything to me. I was asked to submit three texts to the consortium. I traditionally spend about 30 hours looking for the text of each project I write. It was daunting to find three texts to submit on top of the six other projects I had this year in which I took a sabbatical to compose. It is always amazing to find a great choral text that I have not encountered given the hours I spend searching, but they do keep surfacing. “Music in the Night” was in a file of texts I had collected. I had forgotten about it but it seemed very appropriate for this project. An ideal choral text combines beautiful and evocative images with a beautifully sounding text. I was captivated with the rich images and beautiful phonemes in this amazing setting of “Music in the Night” by Harriett Spofford. CC: Tell us about “Music in the Night” and what about it that captured your imagination. DD: The poem describes the way music descends from the stars and interacts with people in a wide variety of situations, from lovers to revelers, and speaks to people in all of the dimensions of their lives. After giving voice to each, the musical strain disappears among the stars. The rich and captivating images combined with the beautifully sounding words drew me in. CC: At what stage of the composition process are you in now? DD: I completed the piece last spring as part of my composing sabbatical. I took a six-week trip to the Southeast to compose. This was one of seven commissions on which I was working. I found that the change in scenery combined with some very beautiful venues in Florida and Georgia inspired me as I composed this piece. CC: Can you give us a sneak peek at the piece? DD: As I mentioned, the text tells the story of a strain of music descending to earth and interacting with people in various aspects of their lives before disappearing into the stars. Whenever I write an accompanied piece, I strive to make the piano an equal partner in the performance. I tried to capture the feel of this elusive strain of music in the introduction. I then used that theme as interlude material and again at the end of the piece. The accompaniment changes to reflect the text throughout. It especially reflects the “broken tune” “beaten about” by revelers. My goal is always to portray the text; the music changes with each depiction, from lovers meeting to revelers partying. The deeper message of music

touching people and giving them a voice to express their innermost feelings and passions is the underlying theme of the text as the piece moves toward its climax. The piece is about four and a half minutes in duration. CC: You’ll also be conducting the premiere, correct? DD: I feel honored to be asked to conduct the premiere of the piece at the ACDA of Minnesota State Conference in November. Eight singers from each of the commissioning choirs will be in that choir. CC: I’m sure you’ve conducted a lot of your music over the years. How does that experience differ from hearing your music interpreted by someone else? And do you have a preference? DD: This is a great question. It is obviously fun for me to conduct a premiere because I can give my interpretation to the music. At the same time, I have been delighted so many times by performances by other conductors that went in a slightly different direction than my original artistic vision. I really enjoy hearing other conductors’ interpretations interacting with my ideas. This is very invigorating and stimulating! CC: After the premiere, how will other conductors be able to purchase the piece? DD: The piece will most likely be published next year. It is currently in the review process. CC: Any closing thoughts you’d like to share? DD: This consortium idea is wonderful and I understand that it will be continued. This is a great way for ACDA of Minnesota to encourage new music and bring many choirs into the commissioning process at a very reasonable rate. Congratulations to ACDA of Minnesota for this innovative and creative program!

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guest feature Transitioning Your Focus: Diction, Phrase Ending, and Your Choir

Chet sommers ACD-MN Past President Willmar, MN

We have a great history of choral music in the Midwest. It is strong today, and it has been for many years. However, there is one aspect of choral music that we can all strive to improve: the treatment of the text. If a choir devotes most of its rehearsal time and effort toward the music and little effort toward the treatment of the text, the resultant performance will likely suffer. The following discussion will attempt to suggest methods that may improve diction and phrasing, and will help transition the focus of choir rehearsals from being purely music-focused to engaging the textual aspects of the music. The concept that the text is equally important as the music is difficult for some choral directors to accept. Additionally, a complete understanding of this construct may mean that rehearsal strategies will have to be adjusted in order to integrate this concept into your routine. The author will admit that in a forty-eight year career in choral music, it was not until the final seven or so years that the importance of the text was regularly discussed and implemented in rehearsals. In some choirs, the notes are learned and only after the piece has been rehearsed for some time, a small amount of attention is given to the text. The text should be given more attention sooner in the rehearsal process. This is, of course, a challenging but not impossible task. Singers want both the music and the text to enliven their performance; they want the musical and textual concepts to be clear to audiences. If a choral conductor asks for clear consonants and musical phrase endings, singers will remember and respond appropriately. Take the time in your rehearsal to discuss the poetry or structure and shape of the lines. We are after all striving to perform great poetry or sacred texts in a manner that can be understood by our audiences and our singers. Many of you have experienced this: You attend church or some other community meeting where there are several speakers or readers. If there are three speakers, usually two of them will be difficult to understand. Some speakers are difficult to


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understand even when you have the text in front of you. What is happening here? To the author, the difficulty starts when certain sounds are missing or not audible to an audience. For the following examples, let us use the following key: * Voiced Consonants b,d,th,m,n + Unvoiced Consonants k,s,t,sh _ Sound not audible For example, when Psalm 121 is read or sung, the underlined sounds are often missing: “I lift up mine eyes to the hills, and I wonder from where comes my help? My help it comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.” Another example is the treatment of double consonants. When a singer or choir sings the passage “Jerusalem my happy home,” there should be a brief pause between “Jerusalem” and “my” in order to clearly decipher between the two words. In Psalm 95 a singer or reader may use “uh” following certain words: “Come(uh), let us sing to the Lord(uh); let us shout for joy to the rock of our salvation(uh).” The “uh” sound can improve diction a great deal if it is used musically. This ending sound should correspond to the dynamics and other needs of the music. Voiced consonants are as follows: b,d,th,m, and n. This simply means that there is a sound following them. Say the word “bad,” say the word “come,” say the word “amen.” You will notice the “uh” occurs naturally after these words. Charts or flash cards can help the choir assimilate to these sounds and the reason for their specific musical treatment. If unvoiced consonants come at the end of a word, we should release them lightly. Say the word “luck,” say the word “hush,” say the word “last.” Setting the music aside, let us look at a famous passage from the bible, Pslam 23: “The Lord is my shepherd,* I shall not want;+ he makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters;+ he restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness+ for his name’s sake+.” The reader will note that much attention is directed toward phrase endings, the writer feels

that if a choir could improve these endings, diction will become much clearer. Psalm 23 is a famous passage that most people recognize; however, that does not mean that a choral group can forget enunciation, diction and musical phrase endings. The writer once worked with a fine organist who said: “It does not matter what the choir sings because no one in the congregation will understand the text.” We must strive to make our texts understandable to audiences. Consonants should be clear to the people ten rows back.

stadt. Her recordings are always very clear as far as the texts and phrase endings. Frank Sinatra also was very careful with words. According to his biography, if he was to perform in a large concert setting such as Madison Square Garden, two hours before the concert he would be in a quiet room without an accompanist, studying the texts of his songs.

If you are performing in German, try to find a native speaker to guide you. This is true of all foreign languages. They deserve the same attention as texts in English, but you may need help with pronunciation. As in all aspects of choral music, singers must be partners in the learning process. They will go to great lengths to ensure that their French is correct and believable. Those of you who tour with your choir have found that tempos are often adjusted so that texts can be understood. Acoustics can be vastly different from venue to venue.

For a complete discussion of diction, the author recommends “Singing in English” by Richard Cox. (ACDA Monograph No. 5). Mr. Cox points out that when singing homophonic music, we have a good chance of being understood by the audience; however, it is in polyphonic music that clarity becomes much more difficult. For a practical worksheet that can be handed out to the choir, try “Twenty Choral Warmups” by Don Craig. This is published by Colla Voce Music and available from most music stores. Mr. Craig states: ”Careful attention to enunciation will enhance the sound of any group…Keep in mind that some sounds must be exaggerated to be made clear, though the conductor must be on guard against grotesque over-exaggeration.”

The author would like to mention several performers who “take care” of texts and may serve as examples to your singers. Rex Harrison, the English actor who played Henry Higgins in “My Fair Lady” sang very little. He spoke his lines in a type of recitative in which clarity ruled. A singer who records today is Linda Ron-

Making texts live and breathe is a challenge for all of us in choral music. After conducting a concert with the West Central Singers, an adult choir, I felt a tug on my coat sleeve. A small older lady said: “Mr. Sommers, I understood every word in the concert!” Amen to that ma’am!

Remember a Loved One • Honor a Mentor • Acknowledge a Friend A gift to the F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund is a lasting way to remember or honor loved ones, musical mentors, friends, or colleagues. Your contribution will help sustain the distinguished legacy of exemplary choral music in Minnesota.

A Special Gift...A Lasting Legacy Plan a special gift that will make a difference for many years to come. Designate the F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund as a beneficiary in your will or trust. The following statement will ensure that your gift is appropriately directed: I bequeath ____% of my estate (or a specific fund) to the FMC Endowment Fund of the American Choral Directors Association, a 501 (c) (3) non-profit corporation located at 12027 Gantry Lane, Apple Valley MN 55124. A bequest and estate planning form is available at: For further information contact: Diana J. Leland, Director of Development, 612.861.5071,

Our Legacy: A Distinguished Past...A Vibrant Future

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Star of the North • Fall 2012

From the Field Head and Heart

Transforming the Singer’s Soul in the Choral Rehearsal

Chris Harris Owatonna High School

First of all, I want to thank each of the three AllState directors this year – Dr. Geoffrey Boers, Dr. Sandra Snow, and Dr. Axel Theimer. In an eerie twist, all three of these wonderfully gifted musicians and human beings spoke about allowing our students to sing and connect expressively with music. I was inspired by each of them in a different way, and as I listened to them, the essence of what I had been ruminating about for the past six months began to crystallize. It was also comforting to know that greater persons than I were also struggling with this connection! As a director, I am always in a state of transition – even after 17 years of teaching. Most recently, I began making a transition in my approach to choral rehearsal strategy because I wanted to help my students develop deeper connections with what they were singing. Due to a very short (40 minute) rehearsal, I always feel like I have to get so much done in the precious time we have, so I focus primarily on the technical aspect of singing. After all, a good concert performance is the most important thing, right? Because I made technicality my focus, so did my students. They were very good asking technical questions about cut offs, pitch, rhythm, diction, etc. You name it, they wanted it to be perfect, and I could tell it bothered them when it wasn’t. For a long time, I was proud of how focused they were on wanting things to be as technical as they could be (if I’m honest with myself, I must admit that I still appreciate their attention to detail!). This is not entirely a bad thing, but I often wondered if they were having fun. When it came close to the concert and they were still singing in a very technical manner, it was a huge struggle to get them to emotionally relax and explore the affective elements of the music. Sure, I had done so in my score study and preparation, and just by virtue of the fact that I had a connection with the text. After all, I was the one who chose the music, so naturally, I had already explored this. But

I had made a tragic mistake. In my quest for achieving a technically proficient choir, I had neglected the affective, and learned the hard way that one or two weeks before the concert is too late to try to “throw it in!” I realized that if I wanted my rehearsals to be more than laboratories of technical singing, I was going to have to make a transition in my teaching. So I have decided to transform my rehearsals to allow more time for my students to discover more of the affective aspects of music. Of course, I’m not willing to abandon the hard work required to be proficient musicians, but I also don’t want a choir of automatons. The ancient Greeks realized this as evidenced in the embodiment of two of their gods, Apollo and Dionysus – both of whom were associated, among other things, with art, but who embodied opposing aspects of the human condition. Great art requires the discipline of honing one’s craft (Apollo), and infusing the spirit into the final product (Dionysus). As I challenge myself, I also challenge you as choral conductors. Though my personal struggle is how to incorporate time into my rehearsals to allow for more emotional connection, others may struggle with how to incorporate more technical elements. Perhaps you are gifted at conveying meaning and emotion to your students and they sing with great connection, but when you listen to the recording you are often disappointed by the result. I urge you to nurture both aspects of singing! Take a class or workshop. Call a colleague and have rehearsal/ concert exchanges. Be bold, brave, and never stop learning from others. Great art (music) cannot exist without a high degree of skill in both areas. The emotional element is essential to obtaining the meaning – something all of us want for our students, for ourselves, and for the audience. Yet, it’s virtually impossible to have a meaningful connection if the music sounds mediocre. A grasp of the technical elements raises our abilities to allow us to achieve ever-higher emotional connections to music. What I am referring to is similar to what Hungarian psychology professor Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi referred to as the Flow.

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


In this day and age of assessments is that the assessments themselves will measure the technical aspects of our profession, and I believe this will further force us to focus on technique and push the affective further out of reach. Additionally, communicative nuance is lost in text messaging, email, and technical gadgetry. We must be bastions of the affective realm – champions of the expressive! We must not constantly justify our existence by arguing that music increases test scores or GPA or whatever else to which it may correlate. We must argue that music is essential because of its own merit. It allows students to exist in both realms of the brain hemispheres, and wonderfully combines the Apollonian and Dionysian ethos to create well rounded, talented, compassionate human beings. The two are not diametrically opposed. They are inescapably and gloriously connected. So I will begin this school year determined not only to be transformative, but for my students to be transformed!

Help ensure Minnesota’s choral legacy... Give generously to the FMC Endowment Fund at

Finally, I would be neglecting my roots if I omitted a reference to the great rock band, Rush, whose 1978 concept album Hemispheres tells the story of an ancient people visited by the gods Apollo and Dionysus. The followers were thrown into chaos, not knowing which path was the correct one to follow. Ultimately, the entity Cygnus appears to teach that elements of both factions are required for happiness: With the heart and mind united, In a single, perfect, sphere…

STATE HONOR CHOIR ­concerts at state ­conference

(featuring 425 auditioned voices) Gustavus Adolphus College • St. Peter 4-5-6 Children – November 19, 2011 7-8 Boys & 7-8 Girls – November 18, 2011

jazz vocalist /clinician A world class musician, historian and devoted music educator. His in-school residency “The Evolution of African American Music” has captured the imaginations of middle school, high school and college students all over the Midwest. “A true master of the jazz form” Performing for audiences throughout Minnesota since 1993, the St. Anthony Brass Quintet is one of the finest chamber ensembles in the state.  Partners with COMPAS and Young Audiences of Minnesota.

Latin-jazz piano and clinician An inspiring teacher as well as performer, Nachito’s passion for his native music is matched by his passion for working with the next generation of musicians and audiences. “Hotter than the burning tip of a contraband Cuban cigar”

(612) 202-8383


Star of the North • Fall 2012

From the Field Contest as a transformative experience

bonnie nelson Sauk Centre High School

My students and I have a passion for solo/ensemble contest. Sauk Centre students take great pride in contest with each junior and senior class motivating the sophomores to keep up the tradition of 100% participation. I love watching students make the transition from being followers to being leaders as they gain confidence when singing solos or participating in small ensembles. I also see them transition from singers to performers during the contest season. This transition doesn’t happen without hard work, dedication, and a keen attention to the process. In this article, I will share what I expect from students during contest both as a teacher and as an adjudicator. Choosing appropriate literature is step one. I give each solo or ensemble at least three music choices that I feel will work for that specific individual or group. I explain that contest is an opportunity to sing really great music such as folk songs or classical literature. Often, the students will ask me to choose the piece for them, but sometimes they have a definite opinion on the piece that they feel they can best make a connection. Once the piece is chosen, we discuss the text, the composer, and the time period. I ask them to speak the text and tell me their first reaction to its meaning. We will continue to discuss the emotional impact of the text as the weeks go on. Next, we practice, practice, practice. The students don’t get to work with me one on one very often; therefore, they need to put in a lot of time in between lessons. I ask them to speak the text in rhythm, sing the notes without text, then put it all together. We try very hard to practice several times with the accompanist. The singers are told that they are in charge, and that it is their job to lead their accompanist, not the other way around. They must practice beginning the solo without looking to the accompanist for a starting cue.

cuss how to sing to the audience, without making eye contact with friends, or looking at the people walking by the room. We have discussions about being respectful to the judge – smiling and nodding as the judge gives comments, and trying everything the judge asks. I remind them that the judge will have some great comments that will help them become stronger singers, so listen! We discuss how to be a good audience, appropriately supporting each other’s performances, being quiet in the room, and thanking the judge for their comments. We talk about how even the smallest things, like contest dress, have an affect on our performance. The students perform in front of each other several times before contest. As a choir, we go over the judging sheet and the ensembles coach and encourage each other. Finally, we discuss at length that success doesn’t rely on the judge giving a superior rating, but instead that a successful performance is reliant upon them giving their best effort and knowing they put the time in to be prepared. They are successful if they loved the music and sang it passionately. Last spring a few days before contest, I asked my students if they knew why I was so hard on them picking apart note mistakes, balance problems, posture issues, and facial expression. One student said, “We know that if we work towards perfection on our contest pieces, we will know how to work in all of life’s challenges.” Another noted, “We can be confident in a job interview or in a presentation. The skills we learn in choir will continue to help us throughout life.” Aren’t they amazing? They know all of the right answers! But they aren’t just trying to say what they know I want to hear; they prove by their performances that they have transitioned to confident singers whose choir skills will become life skills.

Once they feel confident with the music we work on the other aspects of performance. We practice walking on stage, or into the classroom. We work on standing tall and proud as they announce their name, school, selection, and composer. We disTo support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


mmea update A Transition to the Podium-side of Life

Dan Hampton Montevideo High School

It was great to see so many familiar ACDA-MN faces at dialogue this past month when I was able to pop into your area. I missed being a part of that week and especially singing with you all in the Director’s Chorus. We had a great All-State Choir week. The conductors were excellent and inspiring and I had an outstanding team of helpers and section coaches, which made my work so much easier. Thanks to all of these individuals and to St. Olaf College for being such a fantastic host. You may be interested to know that we are continuing our efforts to improve and bring clarity to the All-State audition process. There are several changes that we are in the process of implementing. First, we are working toward formalizing the aural skills portion of the audition so that there are sets of exercises that will be cycled (reused) after a short period of years. Alongside this, we will be posting examples on the MMEA website that look very much like the types of exercises that the students will see at the audition. We will be doing the same thing with the sight singing portion and we will post examples on the website of these as well. Second, in order to establish a more uniform audition experience for our students, we are looking toward developing a “script” (of sorts) for what a judge’s verbal interaction will be during an audition. Our judges have done an outstanding job in the past, and a guideline such as this will allow them the freedom to just focus on the requirements of the audition without fear of appearing too impersonal. As I write this note I am thinking about the fact that I will be seeing my first child, Lukas, off to college for the first time in about a week (Luther College – my alma mater!). This is a big transition for me, and him, and I am definitely going to miss him a lot. This is not really a professional transition for me, but his new journey did get me to thinking about one of the most challenging transitions in my life. To begin with, you need to know that I pretty much loved everything about college. I enjoyed being in a liberal arts community of young people, and all of the fun that we had together. There were always exciting things happening and new ideas to


Star of the North • Fall 2012

explore. I loved my classes, but more than that I loved the act of learning and being taught. Being in a faith-centered college environment was important to me and I had many close friends who were a significant part of my daily life. And the music was amazing, both as a performer and as an audience member. I lived for 4:30 p.m. and the chance to go to choir rehearsal each day – it was the fulfillment of a life’s dream. I felt very much taken care of during my time at Luther, although I didn’t realize it so much at the time. Classes were taken care of for me – I went to class, a teacher taught me, I learned. Choir was taken care for me – I went to practice, I sang, Weston directed, other grown ups planned our tours and generally took care of the administrative tasks. After graduation, I took a teaching job in a small town in Iowa. Like so many of my classmates, I was really excited to finally begin working in the “real world” and start making some money. It wasn’t long before this rosy outlook faded somewhat for me. In addition to the numerous first year teacher struggles that we all faced, I was very much alone in the community. I was unmarried and there were very few young people in the town. There was not much to do in town, and there was not a church of my chosen denomination either. I had no choir to sing in and I spent most of my day in front of singers coaching them. I greatly missed being in a choir and, overall, I missed the feeling of being taken care of. I discovered that, as a teacher, it fell to me to be the originator of so much: picking music, score study, programming logistics, rehearsal management, classroom behavior management, picking and directing a musical, and planning tours. As one who loves singing, I began to fear that I would never again sing in a choir and have that feeling of being taken care of. This fear has essentially has come true in my life and I have found my home to be mostly on the podium-side of the choir. When I decided to pursue the career path of vocal music education back in college, one of my primary motives was a desire to give other students the kind of great musical experiences that I had

growing up. However, the role shift that had to occur as I left college was a bit overwhelming, and I struggled inside to bring my life goals into line with my reality. It took several years to sort out all of these feelings and to aim myself in a new direction. Now, as I reflect on the things that meant so much to me in college, I look for ways to satisfy these in my life. This often means being the instigator or creator of activities, but I have found a certain joy in that as well. I have learned that there is so much yet to learn about music teaching and that even after 22 years as an educator I still have much to learn. A desire to learn more about the art of vocal music has become a lifelong quest for me and helps direct my aspiration to be the best teacher and musician I can be. As I send Lukas off to college, I hope that his life there will be filled with great things, just as mine was. I hope his life is touched in deep ways and that music continues to give profound joy to his life. My hope for you, my fellow music educators, is that you continually find renewal and joy through this wonderful gift of music that we all share.


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The American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota (ACDA-MN) 2011-12 Statewide Honor Choir Projects (save this notice for future reference)

STATE 4-5-6 CHILDREN’S HONOR CHOIR – Saturday, November 19, 2011

STATE 7-8 BOYS’ HONOR CHOIR – Friday, November 18, 2011

Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter (ACDA-MN State Conference Event) Guest Conductor – Angela Broeker, University of St. Thomas Honor Choir Co-Chairs – Kayla Krizek & Marie Palmquist Audition Timeline: Monday, October 3 – On-line auditions due Wednesday, October 12 – Directors notified from Opus Events Wednesday, October 26 – Selected Student Forms due

Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter (ACDA-MN State Conference Event) Guest Conductor – Eugene Rogers, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor Honor Choir Co-Chairs – Chris Larson, Michael Skaar and Kelly Sundin Audition Timeline: Monday, September 26 – On-line auditions due Wednesday, October 5 – Directors notified from Opus Events Wednesday, October 19 – Selected Student Forms due

STATE 7-8 GIRLS’ HONOR CHOIR – Friday, November 18, 2011

STATE 9-10 HIGH SCHOOL HONOR CHOIR – Thursday, February 16, 2012

Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter (ACDA-MN State Conference Event) Guest Conductor – Paula Holmberg, Minnetonka High School Honor Choir Co-Chairs: Jamye Casperson & Rebekah Kleinsasser Audition Timeline: Monday, September 26 – On-Line auditions due Wednesday, October 5 – Directors notified from Opus Events Wednesday, October 19 – Selected Student Forms due

Central Lutheran Church, Minneapolis (MMEA Mid-Winter Clinic Event) Guest Conductor – Bruce Rogers, Mt. San Antonia College, Walnut CA Honor Choir Co-Chairs: Philip Brown & Melanie Kjellberg Audition Timeline: Monday, November 7 – On-Line auditions due Wednesday, November 16 – Directors notified from Opus Events Wednesday, November 30 – Selected Student Forms due

Directors go to: for complete student audition information, honor choir pricing structure, conductor biographies, photos, and new on-line audition procedures. (Please note that current director membership in ACDA is required for student participation in the State Honor Choir program) For further information on the ACDA-MN State Honor Choirs contact Honor Choir Co-Coordinator Jamye Casperson at: Proudly sponsored by the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota (ACDA-MN) • Land of 10,000 Choirs! The choral director’s source for engaging and ongoing professional development Our Mission:To inspire support and inspire a community of choral musicians Our Legacy: A Distinguished Past‌A Vibrant Future

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


Youth & Student activities

The Transition from College Life to Teaching Life…

Ryan werdon Murray County Central Schools

One of my favorite places in the world is on the shores of Lake Superior in Marquette, MI where high rocky cliffs border the coast. On hot summer days, many brave souls jump from the cliffs into the ice-cold water. Jumping in for the first time incurs nervous heart palpitations and requires a personal psychological battle that may cause an increased grey hair count down the road. The initial transition from student to teacher draws many parallels with this experience – grey hair included! One moment, you are the student, obediently jumping through academic hoops and absorbing information like a sponge. Suddenly, you are the teacher and want to guide your students toward becoming the great student you were! I liken my college days and my first year to video games and real life, respectively. Why did it take me five hours to review and revise my choir handbooks, when it only took me two hours to create my handbook for my music education class? Welcome to reality where one’s great lofty college philosophies must be transformed into decisions that affect real people, where music has to be marketed, and where you juggle many hats to keep everyone happy. The transition from college student to first year teacher seems to be the time where this reality sinks in. At the end of my first year, I gave a deep sigh of relief as I completed “the jump” without incurring any major disasters. After my mind slowly resumed logical thought, I began to reflect on the year, asking myself what I could have done differently and what advice I would give to another first

ACDA NORTH CENTRAL ­DIVISION CONFERENCE Beyond the Notes February 8-11, 2012 Madison WI


Star of the North • Fall 2012

year teacher. My biggest recommendation for a first year teacher would be to program a wide variety of accessible music that will be a sure hit with students. As a high school student, I was surrounded with so much exciting college-level music that I forgot the basic building blocks that helped me learn about my voice and personal musicality. Now back teaching at the secondary level, I learned I had to throw my choral performance “wish-list” out the window and focus on choosing pieces that offer the best learning experience for my students. I would also suggest reviewing old repertoire and try to blend the previous director’s style with your own. This will help ease the often bumpy transition and will foster trust between the students and the teacher. A new teacher needs to build that trust for future years, especially when you begin to push their comfort zone by introducing them to an amazing arrangement of “Polly-Wolly Doodle” or hand them their first masterwork. I’ve found that when this trust isn’t present, students can resent their new director’s repertoire choices if it doesn’t match their expectations and previous experiences. Classroom management is an aspect of teaching that can either help make your first year wonderful or very stressful. I would tape a big sign to the office wall that shouts “Consistency!” As a student teacher, I had the opportunity to try many different management styles, but I learned that as a real teacher, things were different. I discovered that I had to “stick to my guns” for the whole year


Central Lutheran Church • Minneapolis 9-10 High School – February 16, 2012 Bruce Rogers, guest conductor

or students wouldn’t know what the expectations were and would behave accordingly. Therefore, deciding your management style is crucial, because to switch philosophies as the year progresses is extremely risky. Another important suggestion I have for new teachers as they make this transition is to continue to be a student! As a first year teacher, you realize the number of things not learned in college needed in your first year. For example, YouTube saved me when I realized I had to choreograph the entire fall musical (poor kids)! I constantly perused the website choralnet, read journals, bombarded other directors with emails and watched choir videos online to see other directors in action. This constant search for new information always inspired me to try new things and “stay on my toes” every day. ACDA-MN is also an excellent resource for learning from excellent teachers. The transition into my first teaching job included many pleasant surprises, one being the amount of support for music from the community and the administration. Many teachers, parents and community members seemed to value music education and offered to help and support the music program in numerous ways. In college, I was prepared for the real world with loads of advocacy information, critical to know in this age of budget cuts. To my relief, I was fortunate enough to arrive at a school that appreciates music for the fine art it is. After jumping into the icy waters of Lake Superior, some people leap out screaming in shock. Many others, however, blow the water from their noses and say with exhilaration, “let’s do it again!” I am grateful and excited to be through my transitional year and eager to continue growing, singing, and smiling as I begin my second year.

ACDA-MN Events Master Calendar at

Change of contact information? Contact Bruce Becker, Executive Director

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


fmc endowment fund update diana j. leland Director of ­Development, F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund

The FMC Endowment Fund Committee extends a very special thank you to those ACDA-MN members who generously donated $3,456 to the F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund during the 2011 Summer Dialogue. Your contributions are much appreciated and will assist with keeping choral music in Minnesota at an exemplary level. Also, I’d like to extend a big thank you to Tom Hassig, Steve Boehlke, and Mark Nelson who each gave extra time, energy, and effort in assisting with the fundraising campaign in my absence.

Summer Dialogue Michael Adam Christie, Natalie Cromwell, Heather Mestad, Nate Raabe, Joanna Shields, and Ryan Werdon

During 2011, the FMC Endowment Fund Scholarship Committee awarded fourteen scholarships to ACDA-MN members. The scholarship recipients were:

To learn about other FMC Endowment Fund scholarship opportunities, please visit:

ACDA National Conference in Chicago Joseph Kemper, Lucy Oehler, and Stanford Scriven

PLEASE MARK YOUR CALENDARS! The annual Give to the Max Day will be held on Wednesday, November 16. The total number of people who contribute to the FMC Endowment Fund on that date is more important than the amount of money contributed. If each ACDA-MN member would donate the minimum amount of $10 each on November 16, over $7,000 would be generated for the FMC Endowment Fund. We invite and encourage 100% participation from our ACDA-MN members on Give to the Max Day!

Graduate Study Amy Jo Cherner, Michael Culloton, Marie ­Flagstad, and Angela Mitchell Ninth World Symposium on Choral Music in Puerto Madryn, Argentina Jane Ramseyer Miller

Scholarships will be offered for college/university students to attend the 2012 ACDA North Central Division Conference in Madison, WI, from February 8-11, 2012. The deadline for application is December 1, 2011. Graduate study scholarship applications are also due on December 1.

Best wishes for your 2011-2012 choral music endeavors!

Graduate study scholarship recipients Amy Jo Cherner and Angela Mitchell.


Star of the North • Fall 2012

Since 1997… Your Gifts to the FMC Endowment Fund have supported 182 ­Minnesota Choral ­Directors with scholarship awards totaling over $109,000.

FMC Summer Dialogue Scholarships Awarded

Nate Raabe (WK) 2010 graduate of Luther College-Decorah Vocal Music Director (7-12) Chatfield Public Schools

The FMC Scholarship Sub-Committee is pleased to announce that six scholarships were awarded to the following ACDAMN members to attend the Summer Dialogue at St. Olaf College in Northfield this past August. Recipients are:

Joanna Shields (GE) 2010 graduate of Concordia College-Moorhead Vocal Music Director (6-12) Redwood Valley Middle/High School – Redwood Falls

Michael Adam Christie 2010 graduate of Concordia College-Moorhead Interim General Music Teacher (1-6) Clarkfield Area Charter School

Ryan Werdon 2010 graduate of the University of Minnesota-Duluth Choral Director (7-12) General Music Teacher (K-1) Murray County Central Schools – Slayton

Natalie Cromwell (GE) 2010 graduate of Northwestern College-St. Paul Choral and Instrumental Music Director (7-12) Southwest Christian High School – Chaska (beginning 2011)

GE = Geneva Eschweiler Scholarship WK = Wayne Kivell Scholarship

Heather Mestad 2007 graduate of the University of Minnesota Choral Director FMC Scholarship Recipients – front: Heather Mestad, NataNormandale Hylands United lie Cromwell, Joanna Schields; back: Ryan Werdon, Nate Methodist Church, Bloomington Raabe, Adam Christie

New Men’s/Women’s ­Festival Coordinator

The ACDA-MN leadership team is pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Walsh, Buffalo High School, as the new coordinator for the annual Men’s/Women’s Choral Festival held at Saint John’s University each October. Michael has been a supportive director/leader in the festival for many years and will spend his first year assisting current coordinator Thomas Hassig who will be transitioning his future leadership expertise to the office of President-Elect of ACDA-MN.

The next round of FMC scholarships will be awarded for the following events with applications due on December 1: ACDA North Central Division Conference Madison WI February 8-11, 2012 Full-time and Part-Time Graduate Study For more information, visit

R&S Chair Vacancy

A vacancy currently exists in this R&S category: Childrens & Youth Community Choirs Members that have an interest in ­serving our membership in this key area, please contact Steve Albaugh, ACDA-MN ­President at:

Our Golden Legacy: A Distinguished Past… A Vibrant Future!

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •




Directly with ACDA National Office Don’t forget to add the $15 ACDA-MN state dues

November 18 & 19 Gustavus Adolphus College • St. Peter On-Line Registration Opens October 1

Fall 2011 Schedule of Events – ACDA-MN September




1 Honor Choir Website open

3 Men’s/Women’s Festival Registration closes


15 Commission Consortium Applications accepted

ACDA-MN State ­Conference Discount Registration closes

1 NC Conference FMC Scholarship Applications due


26 7-8 Honor Choir ­Auditions due

14 Commission Consortium Applications due

9-10 Honor Choir ­ uditions due A


15 FMC Committee Meeting


29 Men’s/Women’s Festival at St. John’s University

18-19 ACDA-MN State Conference at Gustavus Adolphus College

4-5-6 Honor Choir ­ uditions due A

Information Men’s Chorus/Women’s Chorus Festival Saturday, October 29, 2011 Two Festivals in one! A collegiate festival of gender-based choirs held simultaneously with a gender-based massed choir festival for high school and college singers. Three concerts ... hundreds of singers ... great music ... multiple collegiate directors ... beautiful location ... unique in the nation! Registration forms and rehearsal tracks available on the festival website at

Don’t Miss… 2012 SUMMER DIALOGUE August 7-10 St. John’s University • Collegeville Craig Hella Johnson, headliner and guest conductor ACDA-MN Director’s Chorus


Star of the North • Fall 2012

FMC Scholarship Awards December 1, 2011 Application deadline for ACDA North Central Division Conference. Full and Part-time Graduate Study.


December 1, 2011 ACDA North Central Division Conference Full-time and Part-time Graduate Study Applications available at

ACDA-MN: A GOLDEN LEGACY The first two decades (1960’s and 1970’s)

Prior to 1972, ACDA activities in Minnesota consisted of sponsoring a session at the MMEA Convention. Fall 1972 The organization had 66 members. The first state “board” was developed. It was a “steering committee” which consisted of six members. First Star of the North Newsletter. First ACDA column in MMEA “Gopher Music Notes.” 1973

The state was divided into six districts, each of which had a representative on the state board, along with the president and one “at large” member (Jon Romer). The F. Melius Christiansen Award was established.

Jan. 1974 The first state convention was held. The first presentation of the FMC Award. June 1974 The paid, active membership stood at 132, double what it was in 1972. In addition, Minnesota had its first student members (13).

Feb. 1978 Hosted North Central Division Convention. Total membership (active, student, industry) now stood at about 430. 1979

Diana Leland, Vernon Opheim, & Wayne Kivell wrote constitution and by-laws which alligned with that of the national organization. These were accepted by the board and passed by the membership early in 1979. (See Feb. ’79 newsletter). The positions of Newsletter Advertising Chair and Newsletter Circulation Chair were added as nonvoting members of the board. The position of Circulation Chair was discontinued in 1988.

Oct. 1979 Star of the North had its first photographs and magazine format. In the next issue of Dec. 1979 the blue Dec. 1979 background masthead appeared which remains in some form to the present day. Special thanks to past Executive Secretary and ACDA-MN Historian Wayne Kivell for carefully procuring and preserving this archival information.

Fall 1974 A church music coordinator was appointed to the state board (Gene Janssen of Albert Lea) as was the newsletter editor and membership chair (both Wayne Kivell at this point). 1975

The first ACDA/MMEA co-commissioned work for the All-State Choir.

Oct. 1976 The Star of the North changed from mimeograph to offset press. 1977

The positions of Secretary and Presidentelect were added to the board.

ACDA NATIONAL AWARDS FOR EXCELLENCE STAR OF THE NORTH 1991 • 1997 • 1999 • 2003 2005 • 2007 • 2009 • 2011 ACDA-MN WEBSITE: 2011 To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


SAVE THE DATE! Wednesday, November 16, 2011 Give to the Max Day! The NUMBER of people who contribute to the FMC Endowment Fund on that date is more important than the total amount of money contributed. Artistic Images Used to Create Our New ACDA-MN Logo…

Excellence • Integrity • Legacy Community of Directors (batons) Clean and Classic Impression

If each ACDA-MN member would contribute the minimum amount of $10 each, over $7,000 would be generated for the FMC Endowment Fund. We invite and encourage 100% participation from our ACDA-MN members!

“ Concert and Study Tours is more than a

tour company – they are wonderful people.

Our tour was one that the students and I will never forget” - Dr. Lee Nelson Wartburg College

Customized All-Inclusive Performance Tours

651-789-6595 •


Star of the North • Fall 2012

Let ACDA-MN “Commend” Your ­Choral Program As part of the official ACDA-MN 50th Anniversary events, the 50th Anniversary Task Force has established an exciting program to publicly acknowledge choral programs of ACDAMN members throughout the 2011-12 celebration. Members will have the opportunity to invite an ACDA-MN official to a concert or festival performance to acknowledge the work of that choral program and it’s impact upon the community. The ACDA-MN colleague will present an attractive special 50th Anniversary certificate to the home director with the following commendation: This performance is recognized as an official event celebrating the 50th anniversary of the founding of the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota. ACDA-MN exists to support and inspire a community of choral musicians in our state and recognizes all ­choral directors and singers who aspire to excellence in the choral arts. ACDA-MN acknowledges and thanks audiences and local officials who nurture and support the choral arts in the “Land of 10,000 Choirs.”

Name of Choir Program/Director Organization Date The commendation certificate will be presented by an ADCA official at any home concert or choral festival event, for any grade level, or type of program, at any location throughout the state from September 2011 through December 2012. Interested ACDA-MN members should contact Executive Director Bruce Becker at: to schedule your event. Let ACDA-MN publicly “commend” your choral program in your community!

See what our ACDA-MN and FMC boards have been up to lately… Check out posted meeting minutes at

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


What advice do you have for young choral directors facing job transitions?

Transition = Opportunity for Growth ~ Dr. Mary Kay Geston “The Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary defines transition as a “passage from one state, stage, subject, or place to another: change.” Change may be a positive development that we seek, a response to a negative situation that is out of our control, or simply an unexpected opportunity that requires us to make a choice. Whether sought or imposed, positive or negative, change challenges our human desire for stability, comfort, and safety. Change involves endings and beginnings that can be painful, beneficial, or a combination of both. Change thrusts the ‘changee’ onto an emotional roller coaster, and stress associated with change can have debilitating physical manifestations. Change creates subtle and notso-subtle shifts in relationships at a time when we crave support from family and friends. Change isn’t easy and can be frightening. Yet learning and growth cannot occur if we are unwilling to change. We stop growing if we cling tightly to the familiar and are not open to what we don’t know. When change is inevitable, it’s best to face the challenges ‘head on’ rather than to ignore them and hope they go away. Change doesn’t diminish us. Rather, it is through the process of change that we gain greater self-awareness and confidence, and deepen our appreciation for faith, family, and friends. Though overwhelming, change is first and foremost an opportunity for growth. My family and I have moved eleven times in thirty-two years. But all those past transitions don’t make my move to Colorado any easier because I still must say farewell to many, many good friends, colleagues, and students here in Minnesota. In fact, this may be the most difficult move of all because I’m going ‘solo’ as my husband is staying in Minnesota because of his business. It’s worth it, though, because it’s a fantastic job opportunity at a great school in a city I love (we lived in Boulder for six years when I was getting my doctorate). I know that I’ll grow tremendously, both personally and professionally. Most importantly, I have the full support of my family and friends, and that means the world to me.”


Star of the North • Fall 2012

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High School choirs

Steve Deitz Alexandria High School

All on a Cold Winter’s Night Douglas E. Wagner Heritage Music Press 15/2733H (SAB) or 15/2731 (SATB), or 15/2732 (SSA) Piano accompaniment with oboe Great melodies can build great voices. This is a simple, easy arrangement for holiday programming based on the “Greensleeves” melody. The text is entirely secular yet lightly evokes the spiritual side of the holiday with the epic melody and peaceful text. This is a nice piece for younger, less-experienced choirs.

Requiem Eliza Gilkyson, arr. Craig Hella Johnson G. Schirmer ED 4386 SATB accompanied This piece was originally written in 2004 after the devastating Asian Tsunami, and was reinvented to be sung communally by its arranger. The piece flows as a simple chant, a rocking plea for mother Mary to restore peace and to have mercy on the suffering. Requiem would be easy to learn and could be performed with strength and sincerity by high school chorus for a festival or solemn occasion.

A Winter Night David Waggoner Alfred Music Publishing 34790 (SATB) 34791 (SAB) 34792 (SSA) Piano accompaniment Simple, and well-crafted, this short piece would be good for younger, less-experienced high school singers. It’s basically a secular piece, but includes in the text, “a child is born, the angels sing, Peace on earth good will to all.”

Ain’t That News Stephen Hatfield BOOSEY & HAWKES 3294630 SATB The title of “Ain’t That News” is a tribute to the Staple Singers, who sang a piece by that name, not otherwise quoted in this chart. The opening seven measures are an adaptation of an old Paul Robeson 78. The rest of the piece is original material intended to pay homage to the original spiritual. Hatfield quotes, “My goal is to allow even the most demure chorister to have at least a little taste of what it would be like to be Aretha Franklin.”

Homeward Bound Marta Keen, arr. J Althouse Alfred Music Publishing 7845 (SATB) 16209 (SAB) 7846 (SSA) 20098 (TBB) 35647 (2-Part) Piano accompaniment Again, simple stuff that really works! This piece presents a great melody to build young voices. The harmonies are simple and well-suited for the developing voice. The text is unusually strong for the young high school singer. It reflects the idea that our young adults need to step outside of what they know to become what they will be.


Baba Yetu Christopher Tin Alfred Music Publishing, #35768 SATB (with divisi) This newly published octavo was originally scored for the video game “Civilization IV.” The text is a Swahili adaptation of “The Lord’s Prayer,” and requires tenor and alto soloists as well as percussion. The piece has a very sing-able, infectious hook, and is a lot of fun to prepare and sing. Challenges might include navigating the text, and having sufficient balance within the sections for the divisi. Orchestral accompaniment as also available from

Honor Choir Days Contact Jamye Casperson at: To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


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Pick Laura tempel Champlin Park High School

Moondance arr. Jeremy Fox SATB This swinging arrangement of the Van Morrison classic is sure to be a favorite of your singers! I have used this Jeremy Fox arrangement with both beginning and advanced jazz groups. There is a short solo at the beginning of the tune as well as ample opportunity for improvisation over the 12 bar minor blues. An SSAA arrangement is also available through UNC Jazz Press.

Jazz choirs

I Got Rhythm arr. Ward Swingle UNC Jazz Press SSAA Swingle arranged this Gershwin classic for the Norwegian women’s choir, Voci Nobili. With its infectious rhythm and jazz harmonies, this arrangement is perfect for either a women’s jazz ensemble or advanced treble choir. Your women will love the challenge of learning this Dixieland style, a cappella piece.


Autumn Leaves arr. Paris Rutherford Hal Leonard 08742288 SATB Rutherford’s arrangement of this jazz standard is wonderful for teaching swing style and scat singing. If you are teaching beginning improvisation, there is a solo in the middle of the tune with the opportunity to ad lib, but still refer to the written solo for melodic ideas and variations. Instrumental parts are available from the publisher.

Join the ACDA-MN community on our new page. Visit to connect with your ACDA friends!

Star of the North • Fall 2012

In My Life Arr. Steve Zegree Hal Leonard 08201887 SATB A beautiful setting of the classic Beatles ballad, Zegree’s arrangement is appropriate for both small ensembles and large choirs. The voice leading is relatively simple, but there are challenging chords that will develop aural skills of both beginning and advanced jazz ensembles. Bumble Bee Anders Edenroth Walton Music HL08501747 SSAATB This piece is featured on The Real Group’s 2009 release, The Real Album. There is versatility with the piece as it can be performed either a cappella by a mixed ensemble, or by a women’s ensemble with instruments performing the T/B lines. There are repeated rhythmic patterns and multiple key changes to create the impression of a bee flying from flower to flower. Smack Dab in the Middle arr. Darmon Meader Shawnee Press, Inc. A 2259 SATB This standard has been recorded by such greats as Ray Charles, Count Basie and Ella Fitzgerald. Darmon Meador’s arrangement for New York Voices is challenging and great fun with its infectious rhythms, closed voice harmonies and plenty of humor and solo opportunities. The horn and rhythms parts are available through the publisher and a recording can be found on the New York Voices album, Sing! Sing! Sing!

SSA Commissioning Consortium Project Carolyn Jennings, composer Applications due October 14, 2011 More details at:

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then progresses to a passage where individual singers are asked to improvise given words on one or two pitches. This wall of sound dissolves into whispers before the entirety of the chant is heard one more time in the soprano line. A great piece to explore performance spaces!


College and ­University choirs

Angela Broeker University of St Thomas

Angels We Have Heard on High French Carol, arr. Matthew Culloton MorningStar Music Publishers MSM-50-0065 SATB divisi Those wishing for a carol arrangement that is sophisticated, interesting, and pleasing need look no further. Avoiding the typical clichés so prevalent in other arrangements of this tune, Matthew Culloton instead takes us on a mystical journey. A dotted rhythm set to the word “gloria” provides interest and forward motion in the accompanying voices. Avoiding the traditional E or F major tonality, this arrangement strives to remain in c# minor thereby taking the listener to uncharted mysteries. Be listening for the surprise embedded in the tenor voice as the piece unwinds to its quiet conclusion.

Freedom Train Rollo Dilworth Hal Leonard 08748048 SATB and piano One of Rollo’s best! This piece, based almost exclusively on no pre-existing material, takes all its musical characteristics from the gospel style. The metaphor of the train, often employed in the African-American tradition as a symbol for freedom, can be heard in the text and in musical devices – “Woo! Woo!” After rockin’ down with short homophonic motives over a hip piano part, Rollo begins his famous layering of ostinatos, some based on snippets of “We Shall Overcome” and “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” Check out the Chicago Children’s Choir choreography on Youtube.

Paradise Malcolm Dalglish SSAATB Malcolm Dalglish is a folk music performer/composer extraordinaire. His choral arrangements often incorporate hammer dulcimer, but this piece (from his larger Hymnody of the Earth) is a cappella. The five verses, set homophonically, begin with a single voice part and adds another on each subsequent verse. This building of forces parallels the building of textual ideas as the singer/wanderer begins with the simple question, “Have I a seat in Paradise?” and ends with all forces declaring, “There is a Love that never dies.” With earthy power, this piece makes a great closer.

Uniamo in Amore (Let Us Unite in Love) Kevin Memley Walton Music WJMS1120 SATB divisi, STB soloists, French Horn, Piano, and various percussion Kevin Memley has succeeded in writing the perfect concert closer. The virtuosic piano part, late Romantic harmonics, thick textures, and soaring vocal lines sound as if they appeared straight from a Verdi opera. Even the text about love, song, and dance harkens back to earlier times. Singers will adore the melodiousness of the vocal lines and the energetic triplets patterns. If you have three dynamic soloists, look no further for this year’s closer.

Yanaway Heyona Traditional Iriquois, arr. Brian Tate Pavane Publishing P1378 SATB In the same manner as the Miqmaq Honor Song (Lydia Adams) and Tres Cantos dos Indios Krao, Yanaway Heyona uses a chant melody from indigenous people (Iroquois) as the only material for his arrangement. The unchanged pentatonic melody is passed around the four voice parts with instructions to do so non-metrically. The piece

Oh, Sing Jubilee to the Lord Brad Holmes (with text by Ulrik V. Koren) MorningStar Publishers MSM-50-2611 TTBB This moderately easy four-part men’s piece displays what Brad does best – writing pieces with rhythmic vitality in straightforward forms that build to exciting conclusions. This strophic piece includes the phrases “Glory be to God” and “Sing Praises to God Out of Zion” in each verse. A variety of textures, some short tonal endeavors, and wonderfully voiced chords throughout makes this a gratifying piece for mature male choirs.

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


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community choirs

steven boehlke Minnesota Valley Men’s Chorale


Ballade to the Moon Daniel Elder GIA, G-8071 SATB and Piano “Ballade to the Moon” is a beautiful new octavo that explores the observational and psychological experiences associated with love, nature, darkness and light. Daniel Elder, b. 1986, is a student in composition at the University of Georgia. This is an exciting octavo that will challenge your singers and delight the audience. I Dreamed of Rain Jan Garrett, Arr. Larry Nickel Cypress Music, CP 1182 SATB and Piano Larry Nickel is the owner of Cypress Choral Music. He is a well-known Canadian composer and arranger. Composer Jan Garrett is a jazz singer and award winning songwriter. “I Dream of Rain” has a delightful lifting quality that will captivate your singers. Ms. Garrett was inspired by the hot dry year in 2002 in the western United State and also by the unrest in the political scene here in the United States and Iraq. “It was as if the whole world was on fire.” O Magnum Mysterium Z. Randall Stroope Alliance Music Publications, AMP0800 SAT/SATB A Cappella If you have not sung any compositions by Z. Randall Stroope and you are looking for a challenge for your Holiday Concert, you need to look at “O Magnum Mysterium,” a new composition for SAT and SATB choirs. This new setting will provide a challenge for your singers and provide your audiences with a new setting of this text. Well worth your time.

Star of the North • Fall 2012

A Gershwin Jazz Trio • Nice Work if You Can Get It • Someone to Watch Over Me • I Got Rhythm George Gershwin, Arr. Jay Althouse Alfred Music, 35568 SATB A Cappella Looking for Americana for your next concert? Get a copy of Jay Althouse’s new arrangement of “A Gershwin Jazz Trio.” The three selections can be performed as a set or done as individual selections. This set is enjoyable for your singers and is a wonderful way to present the great music of Ira and George Gershwin to your audience. Tabula Rasa Don Macdonald Cypress Music, CP 1169 SSAATB A Cappella Looking for something different in your programming? “Tabula Rasa” by Don Macdonald might be that selection! The Latin words “Tabula Rasa” translates as “blank slate.” The Spanish text speaks of a quiet moment between and mother and her child, when she sees the potential of this precious life she holds in her arms. An acknowledgement of her child as a “blank slate,” ”Tabula Rasa” was the winning composition of the 2010 DaCapo Chamber Choir New Works composition in Canada. Angels We Have Heard on High Arr. Matthew Culloton Morningstar Music, MSM-50-0065 SATB divisi A Cappella Matthew Culloton, artistic director and conductor of The Singers: Minnesota Choral Artists has provided a fresh arrangement of the familiar “Angels We Have Heard On High” for your Holiday concert. Your singers will enjoy the challenges in preparing this arrangement and it will delight your audiences.

ACDA-MN Award Recipients Dr. Axel Theimer Saint John’s University F. Melius Christiansen Lifetime Achievement Award Born in 1946 in St. Johann in Tirol, Austria, music has been part of Axel Theimer’s life from the very beginning. It started with folksongs sung around the campfire, while hiking and at evening gatherings. His parents were managers of a children’s retreat/ vacation camp, operated by the health services of the city of Innsbruck. A first musical milestone for Theimer was when an old upright piano was delivered by horse cart to the farm-like setting halfway up a 7000-foot mountain in the Austrian Alps. Receiving piano lessons (at age four) also meant walking down into the village for about an hour every other week to see the teacher. Acceptance into the Vienna Boy’s Choir at age seven prompted a move to Vienna. Axel joined one of the touring groups when he was nine and remained in the ensemble until age fourteen. Members of the choir have the option to stay in the boarding school (special building for graduates) until finishing High School. Both he and his brother decided to make use of this opportunity, which allowed him to remain musically active and continue voice and piano lessons, plus the addition of cello/bass study. After serving what was then mandatory time in the Austrian armed services, he enrolled in the Veterinary School of the University of Vienna. Despite the demanding schedule, he continued his involvement in music with the Chorus Viennensis (adult male chorus of the Vienna Boy’s Choir), and after a year became interim director, preparing them for special concerts and recording projects, including Bach’s B-minor Mass and St. John’s Passion with the Concentus Musicus. Membership in other choirs, as well as serving as an ‘extra’ singer in the Vienna State Opera Chorus provided the opportunity to observe and sing under the direction of the great conductors of that era. In 1969, the invitation to join the Music Department at Saint John’s University came as a total surprise… Gerhard Track, director of choirs at St. John’s since 1958 and one of Axel’s directors in the Boy’s Choir, had decided to move to Colorado. He recommended Axel for the job. After accepting this position at 23, he completed a B.A. at SJU, while serving as an Instructor of Music at Saint John’s, and earned an M.F.A. (Choral conducting – student of Dr. Thomas Lancaster) and a D.M.A. (Vocal Performance – student of Prof.

Roy Schuessler) from the University of Minnesota. His duties at Saint John’s and Saint Ben’s have included directing choral ensembles, teaching theory, piano, voice, conducting, vocal pedagogy, diction, and vocal and choral literature. In addition to directing the Men’s Chorus, he is also founding director of the two colleges’ mixed voiced ensembles, the Chamber Choir and the non-auditioned All-College Choir, founder and artistic director of Twin Cities-based Kantorei, founder and music director of Central Minnesota’s Amadeus Chamber Symphony, is on the faculty and Board of Directors of The VoiceCare Network, and is Artistic Director/Conductor of the National Catholic Youth Choir. The Chamber Choir and Men’s Chorus tour nationally every year and abroad every four years. Axel retains active membership and has served in leadership roles in several professional organizations. His involvement in founding and hosting events includes the annual ACDA-MN Men’s/Women’s Choir Festival, MN-NATS Auditions, ACDAMN “Dialogue” (a chance for choral conductors to share knowledge in a retreat setting) and hosting the MMEA All-State Choirs. In addition to conducting choral festivals, honors choirs, and all state choirs throughout the United States, Japan, and China, he has presented interest sessions at state, regional, and national conventions of various professional organizations. Axel continues to appear as a vocal soloist, serve as an adjudicator, and offer workshops here and abroad. Axel cherished his opportunity to conduct the 1998 MMEA All-State Men’s Choir and was thrilled to be invited to direct that choir again in the summer of 2011. He continues to work with singers of all ages through education outreach events with Kantorei and his choirs at Saint John’s/Saint Ben’s. He and his colleagues at the VoiceCare Network provide mentorship to many Minnesota music educators and others nationally and internationally. In 2001, ACDA-MN named Axel “Choral Director of the Year” and in 2004 he was inducted into the MMEA Hall of Fame. His love for folk music is evident in the release of two CDs featuring folksongs, lullabies and Christmas carols from Austria and Germany, a collaborative effort with guitarist and faculty colleague O. Nick Raths, founding member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet. Axel’s choral compositions and arrangements for women’s, men’s, mixed and children’s choirs are published by Alliance Publications, Inc. in Wisconsin.

STAR OF THE NORTH Online edition available at:

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


ACDA-MN Award Recipient Biographies continued Susan Zemlin Blaine High School Minnesota Choral Director of the Year Award Susan Zemlin has been Director of Vocal Music at Blaine High School since 1992 where she is currently responsible for several curricular and extra-curricular choirs, an annual Madrigal Dinner, and assisting with the Spring Musical. From 1987 to 1992 she taught vocal and general music at Pipestone Central School to students in grades 6-12. She holds a B.A. in Music Education from Augustana College in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, and an M.M. in Choral Conducting from the University of Minnesota. She has studied voice with Monty Barnard, Axel Theimer, Leon Thurman, and Lawrence Weller, and has sung with Kantorei and the Dale Warland Singers. Ms. Zemlin served as Assistant Conductor for Kantorei from 1996 until 2009, and she has been a substitute faculty member for the VoiceCare Network. She has worked with church choirs in Sioux Falls, SD, Pipestone, MN, and Coon Rapids, MN. Ms. Zemlin is a member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing, the VoiceCare Network, and has served as Treasurer, Secretary, Men’s/Women’s Choir Festival Chair, and Webmaster for the Minnesota Chapter of the American Choral Directors Association, as well as Choir Vice-President for the Minnesota Music Educators Association. Ms. Zemlin has served on the Personnel, Staff-Development, and Finance Committees at Blaine High School, and is currently serving on the music curriculum writing team for the AnokaHennepin School District. A technology enthusiast, Ms. Zemlin’s Blaine Choir webpage was featured in a 1996 Choral Journal article as one of the early high school choir websites. In 2005, Ms. Zemlin was awarded a Teacher Outstanding Performance (TOP) Award by the Anoka-Hennepin School District. She is a member of Faith Lutheran Church in Coon Rapids where she is involved in Global Mission activities. In her spare time, she enjoys biking, cross-country skiing, gardening, and cooking. Ms. Zemlin lives in Coon Rapids, MN with her husband Reid Mortensen and Mellie the Golden Retriever.

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Star of the North • Fall 2012

Philip Brown Hopkins High School Outstanding Young Choral Director Award Philip Brown is the director of choral activities at Hopkins High School, located in Minnetonka, Minnesota. He graduated summa cum laude from Bethany College (Lindsborg, Kansas), majoring in K-12 music education. He later received his M.M. degree in Music Education from Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, Arizona). He resides in Eden Prairie, is married to Molly Brown and has a Pembroke Welsh Corgi named Gracie. Before arriving at Hopkins High School, Philip started teaching in the suburbs of Denver, Colorado (Arvada West High School) and in White Bear Lake, Minnesota (North Campus High School). At Hopkins High School he conducts seven choral ensembles and served as music director for the school’s annual musical before returning to coaching tennis. Along with public school teaching, Philip also conducts the Angelica Cantanti Chamber Singers. Angelica Cantanti is a youth singing organization that comprises of nearly 200 singers, grades 2-12. His choral groups have been selected for feature performances at: CMEA Conference, CU-Boulder Madrigal Festival, MMEA Mid-Winter Conference, ACDA-MN Fall Conference, MSUMankato Choral Festival and the ACDA-MN Choral Arts Finale. Choirs under his conducting have collaborated with the Minnesota Oratorio Society, Minnesota Choral Artists – The Singers Morten Lauridsen Festival, Great Northern Union and Cantus.          Philip is an active adjudicator/clinician for a few music contests each year, serves as the ACDA-MN Repertoire and Standards Coordinator and ACDA-MN 9th-10th Honor Choir Co-Chair. His professional music affiliations include ACDA and MENC.


Greg Aune – Southwest District Paula Holmberg – Metro West District Joe Osowski – Northeast District

André Heywood The St. John’s Boys’ Choir VocalEssence Creative Programming Award Now in its 31st season, The St. John’s Boys’ Choir continues the tradition of enabling boys to express themselves through music, and provides an environment that nurtures and encourages creativity. Founded by the monastic community of Saint John’s Abbey in Collegeville, the organization has grown to include three performing ensembles with 85 choirboys, representing home, public, and private schools in more than 15 communities around Central Minnesota. The choirs now travel far beyond the walls of the Abbey Church, ministering to local communities and performing in churches and concert halls all over the world. Committed to continuing the strong Minnesotan choral tradition, the choir collaborates frequently with other local artists and has commissioned works by local composers, including Stephen Paulus and René Clausen. They performed at the ACDA-MN State Conference in 2010 and will appear at the upcoming Division Conference in Madison in 2012. Born in Trinidad, André Heywood grew up and studied in Canada earning undergraduate degrees in both Biochemistry and Music Education. He then earned a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from the University of Western Ontario. During his time at UWO he was the recipient of numerous awards for vocal performance, conducting, and teaching, and was honored on the national stage for his writing by the Canadian Music Educators’ Association and for his research by the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada. André began his professional life as a conductor at the age of 19 as a church music director. Since then he has been active in working with choral groups of all ages and levels. After singing with the renowned Amabile Boys’ and Men’s Choirs for over

SAVE THE DATE! Wednesday, November 16, 2011 Give to the Max Day! The NUMBER of people who ­contribute to the FMC Endowment Fund on that date is more important than the total amount of money ­contributed. We invite you to contribute this year! Our goal is 100% member participation.

a decade, he became assistant conductor for two years, before moving to Minnesota. Now stationed on the Saint John’s campus, André maintains a busy schedule as artistic director of The St. John’s Boys’ Choir, conductor of the Saint John’s Abbey Schola (monastic choir), a faculty member in the Department of Music where he directs two ensembles, and as Liturgical Music Director for Saint John’s Preparatory School. Choral ensembles under his direction have been selected to perform at state, national, and international conferences and festivals. A specialist in working with young voices, André is a soughtafter clinician and adjudicator for children’s and youth choirs, and has founded and coordinated festivals and community outreach programs for young singers. His background in working with young male voices in particular serves him well in his role as the Boychoir Repertoire and Standards Chair for the North Central Division of the American Choral Directors’ Association.

Don’t Miss... Appearing at the 2011 State Conference November 18 & 19 Gustavus Adolphus College Church of St. Peter NATIONAL HEADLINERS Weston Noble • John Yarrington Judy Bowers HONOR CHOIR DIRECTORS Angela Broeker • Paula Holmberg Eugene Rogers

Haven’t been receiving regular emails from ACDA-MN? Contact Bruce Becker, Executive Director


1962-2012 Check it out at:

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


In Memoriam...Lauretta P. Graetz 1936 - 2011 Lauretta Graetz shared her gift of music with thousands of people over the years and took a special interest in mentoring new teachers. She taught vocal music in public schools for over 40 years, starting her career in Clarence, Iowa and then in Independence, Iowa. In 1994, she coordinated a special event commemorating 25 years of musical theater presentations at Independence High School. Upon her retirement from teaching in Iowa, she moved to Burnsville, Minnesota, and joined the music staff at Apple Valley High School where she taught private voice and choir from 1997-2003. Her musical gifts were shared with the community as well. While in Independence, she played organ for church services and taught music at the Mental Health Institute Cromwell Children’s Unit. She also directed the Chancel and Handbell Choirs at First Presbyterian Church in Independence. For over 30 years she was the music director of the Independence Ladies Musi-


Star of the North • Fall 2012

cal Society choruses. While attending Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville, Minnesota, she directed the Hand Bell Choir from 1996-2011 and assisted in directing the Senior Choir from 1996-2006. Lauretta was a long time member of the Iowa Choral Directors Association (ICDA) and served as its President from 1989-91. For 13 years, she utilized her humor and creativity as Social Activities Chair for Summer ICDA Conferences and was the recipient of ICDA’s prestigious Robert McCowan Award, which is presented for outstanding achievements in choral music. She served as President of the ACDA North Central Division from 1996-98. Lauretta was also a member of the Steering Committee for the Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music, which was held in Minneapolis during August 2002. While living in Minnesota, she was a member of ACDA-MN and served on its F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund Committee. Lauretta passed away on June 10 and her funeral service was held on June 14 at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Burnsville.

ACDA-MN Members approve district re-alignment beginning in 2012

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •



Lastword Transition

Bruce W. Becker ACDA-MN Executive Director

The dictionary offers the definition of transition as “a passing or change from one place, state, or condition to another.” As human beings we come upon various transitions in our lives, whether anticipated or unexpected. We expect that we transition from grade level to another grade level throughout our school years. Further, we expect that we transition from student to a professional career. Once in a career, some of us have transitioned from one job description to another, or we embark on an advanced degree program. Of course, one of the ultimate transitions in life is from professional career to retirement. From a personal perspective, we expect to meet and find fulfilling relationships with a significant other. We watch our families grow and experience their individual transitions in life. In summary, those are the transitions that are expected or anticipated. For many members in ACDA-MN, unexpected transitions have come upon them in a variety of ways. Program and funding cuts have impacted their once-secure jobs. Additional grade level or subject area teaching responsibilities have been added to their job descriptions. Perhaps an unexpected serious personal or family health issue has invaded your way of life. What we know for certain is that all of us are in a continual ebb and flow of experiencing transitions both expected and unexpected. As a professional organization, we in ACDAMN wish to be proactive in assisting you as you encounter those unexpected transitions in your professional career. For example, we have entered initial conversations with representatives of MMEA and other interested organizations in jointly developing resources and assistance to help music educators and their school districts save music programs as funding becomes more and more challenging. The entire concept and philosophy of estab-


Star of the North • Fall 2012

lishing and supporting music in our schools is being challenged in ways that we could not even imagine just a few short years ago. As financial resources are becoming more scarce and due to results-oriented testing, schools are focusing more on the importance of strengthening academic core subject areas rather than supporting music and the arts. It is our collective hope to begin developing an appropriate response within this next academic year to this emerging need. Further, if you or a neighboring choral music colleague is experiencing additional job responsibilities for which you are looking for additional programmatic support, let us know how we might be able to help you. Our state conferences and summer dialogue programs are meant to address topics and present current methods and materials to assist you in your choral music position. Expect that we can and will continue to support you in your work. Transition…whether you find yourself encountering it or dealing with it unexpectedly, ACDA-MN wishes to step with you side-byside in supporting your continuing professional journey. We take our position seriously as we live and promote our own mission statement: To inspire and support of community of choral musicians in our state!


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One Year Two Years Three Years 00 00 Active (US and Canada) $95. $190. $285.00 00 00 Active Iowa (Active members who live in the state of Iowa) $98. $196. $294.00 Active Minnesota (Active members who live in the state of Minnesota) $110.00 $220.00 $330.00 00 00 International (Those outside the US & Canada - payment must be in U.S. dollars) $135. $270. $405.00 Retired $45.00 $90.00 $135.00 00 00 Retired Minnesota (Retired members who live in the state of Minnesota) $60. $120. $180.00 Student (full and part-time students at any level) $35.00 $70.00 $105.00 00 00 Associate (Choral Singers, Administrators & non-directors) $95. $190. $285.00 00 00 Associate Minnesota (Administrators & non-directors who live in Minnesota) $110. $220. $330.00 Institution (Ensemble or School/Church Music Dept.) $110.00 $220.00 $330.00 00 00 Industry (Music-related businesses) $135. $270. $405.00 Paying Life** (Make a lifetime commitment) $2,000.00 Annual Installment of $200.00 or greater $__________ **(To qualify for life membership, you must have been an active member of ACDA for a minumum of 10 years) 6. Payment - Payable to ACDA in US Dollars. Total: $ Check #_________________ (Enclosed) Do not fax if mailing a check Visa



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Membership will be renewed upon receipt of payment.

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Name on Card:__________________________________________ Signature: _______________________________________________ Billing Address:___________________________________________ Date: _______________________ ______________________________________________________ I agree to pay the total according to the credit card issuer agreement and acknowledge that all sales are nal unless duplicate payment is made, © ACDA Revised January 27, 2011

To support and inspire a community of choral musicians •


2011 Star Of the North ACDA  

Official publication of the American Directors Association of Minnesota