Number of scholarships and grants awarded:  517

Dollar Amount Awarded:  $296,069


Recent scholarship and grant awards totaling $7,921 have included these 20 outstanding recipients. Congratulations!

2021 Summer Dialogue Scholarship Recipients

Jacob Barsness, new choral director at Milaca MS/HS
Gerald Gurss, artistic director of Twin Cities Gay Men’s Chorus
Zachary Kubasta, LeSeuer Henderson MS/HS
Kali Malaski, new choral director at Morris Middle School
Olivia Steffl, recent graduate of Luther College
Nathan Thompson, recent graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College
Therese Walth, choral director at Hill-Murray HS

2021 Summer Dialogue Student Conductor Scholarship Recipients

Emily Albrecht, St. Olaf College
Rhonda Card, University of Minnesota-Duluth
Matthew Farho, University of St. Thomas
Micah Reynolds, University of Northwestern-St. Paul
Maria Schneider, College of St. Benedict/St. John’s University
Wesley Sorum, Concordia College-Moorhead
Jessica Stenberg, St. Cloud State University
Matthew Thomforde, Concordia University-St. Paul
Nathan Thompson, Gustavus Adolphus College
Huy Tran, University of Minnesota-Morris


  • Northfield Youth Choirs Treble Choir, Nicole Thietje, conductor
  • Fertile-Beltrami High School Choir, Richard Schrom, conductor
  • Luverne High School Concert Choir, Seana Graber, conductor


A remarkable statistic occurred in mid-2021 with the exciting news that our investment portfolio professionally managed by JNBA Financial Advisors out of Bloomington surpassed 1 million dollars in value! Over a span of twenty-five years this result is due to three factors:

    1. Strong annual giving by a dedicated donor base representing donors throughout the state and across the country.
    2. Steady annual growth within our investment portfolio due to a robust stock market.
    3. Conservative annual spending policy that draws up to 5-6% of the principal fund balance.

Throughout these many years, the FMC Endowment Fund has expanded its support to our Minnesota choral music community by providing scholarships for members to attend graduate school, attend professional development conferences, support a need-based state honor choir scholarship program, support and encourage young music students to pursue choral conducting as a career, and most recently to provide transportation grants to auditioned choirs traveling to the annual state conference.  In addition, the fund provides considerable financial support to the ACDA-MN general budget that reduces registration rates for Summer Dialogue and State Conference, and further supports a portion of the salary for the Executive Director.

To all the ACDA-MN members who have ever contributed to the FMC Endowment Fund, thanks a million!  This will be the theme of the annual fall donor campaign as we celebrate this noteworthy accomplishment for our organization.  The FMC Endowment Fund now supports these annual scholarship and grant programs:

    • Summer Dialogue Scholarships
    • Summer Dialogue Student Conductor Workshop
    • Graduate Study Scholarships
    • State Honor Choir Need-based Scholarships
    • ACDA Regional/National Conference Scholarships
    • ACDA National High School Student Leadership Conference
    • ACDA-MN State Conference Transportation Grants
    • World Choral Symposium Scholarships

In 2021-22 we expect to award an unprecedented 62 scholarships for a total dollar award of $30,852.


Teaming up with hundreds of Minnesota nonprofits, ACDA of Minnesota through its FMC Endowment Fund will participate in the annual Give to the Max Day scheduled for Thursday, November 18, 2021.  Special giving incentives will be offered throughout the day for donors to maximize their contributions.  Historically, millions of dollars are generated each year for Minnesota non-profit organizations through the Give to the Max campaign.

FMC @ 25 YEARS:  A Three-Part Series

1996:  An Inspired Beginning

Authored by Mary Kay Geston and Bruce W. Becker

During the 1995 Summer Dialogue, ACDA-MN colleagues Murrae Freng and Bruce Becker, two members of the 1996 F. Melius Christiansen 125th Anniversary Concert Committee, met together in a meeting that would change the trajectory of ACDA of Minnesota forever. Anticipating sizable revenue from the event, Freng suggested that concert proceeds be used to establish a new endowment fund where donors could make contributions in successive years. Asked what the endowment funds could be used for, Becker responded that additional funding support to ACDA-MN could help establish a new part-time staff position for the growing organization,  initiate a member scholarship program, and could earmark funds designated for a “rainy day” scenario.

Subsequently, during the fall of 1996, ACDA of Minnesota’s annual fall conference was held on the campus of St. Olaf College in Northfield, designed to honor the legacy of F. Melius Christiansen (1871-1955), founder of the St. Olaf Choir and “father” of a cappella choral singing in the United States. Titled “F. Melius Christiansen:  The Man, the Legacy,” the conference celebrated the 125th anniversary of Christiansen’s birth and the contributions to the choral art made by this Norwegian immigrant during his tenure at St. Olaf College. The closing concert, coordinated by ACDA-MN Past President Bruce Becker, was billed as a “once in a lifetime” event of grand proportion. Gathered for the first time were choirs, each with a Christiansen-inspired choral heritage, from five Midwestern colleges with ties to the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA).

The conference’s closing concert was open to the public, and an audience of over 7500 people heard choirs from Augsburg College, Concordia College-Moorhead, Gustavus Adolphus College, Luther College, and St. Olaf College. Each choir performed individually under the direction of their respective conductors and a massed choir under the direction of Kenneth Jennings, St. Olaf College professor emeritus and conductor of the St. Olaf Choir from 1968-1990. A new tradition was born.

Following that first anniversary concert, ACDA of Minnesota found itself in possession of monetary largesse from grateful concert-goers and sponsors. These contributions were set aside by the ACDA-MN Executive Board to establish an endowment fund with F. Melius Christiansen as its namesake. In creating the F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund, ACDA of Minnesota sought to honor and sustain Christiansen’s legacy, and the board set a lofty goal for the endowment of $500,000.

The board busied itself envisioning ways to spend the interest from the fund to guarantee a “vibrant future for exemplary choral music” in the land of 10,000 choirs. They settled on a scholarship program for the continuing education and training of Minnesota choral directors.  Additionally, the board voted to ensure the stability of the state organization by funding a new position of part-time executive secretary. Lastly, the board appointed a group of interested retired choral directors, many who served on the 125th Anniversary Committee, to serve as the endowment committee responsible for managing endowment-related matters.

Initial investment interest from the funds allowed only partial fulfillment of the committee’s goals. Nevertheless, Minnesota’s leaders made a leap of faith in January 1997 and initiated the F. Melius Christiansen Young Conductor Scholarship program which offered ten scholarships to attend Minnesota’s annual Summer Dialogue conference. The endowment committee also partially funded the newly created position of executive secretary for two years. ACDA of Minnesota would never be the same.

(More details coming about the endowment fund’s remarkable growth within the first ten years in the Star of the North Winter issue)


We thank these individual and corporate donors who have contributed to the FMC Endowment Fund during the period from May to August 2021:

  • Mark & Karen Aamot
  • Sarah Abelsen
  • Dariush Akhavan
  • Steven Albaugh
  • Nancy Jo Aldrich
  • Bret Amundson
  • Rolf & Laurie Anderson
  • Hilary Apfelstadt
  • Carole Lea Arenson – in memory of Alice T. Larsen
  • Linda M. Armstrong – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Miriam Augsburger
  • Greg & Julie Aune
  • Awards Direct – in honor of Justice Page MS Vocal Music Department
  • Carol Barnett – in honor of Ahmed Anzaldua
  • Thomas & Julia Bartsch – in honor of Bruce & Candi Phelps’s 50th wedding anniversary
  • Bruce W. & Paula M. Becker – in honor of Axel Theimer, Susan Zemlin, Paula Holmberg
  • Bruce W. & Paula M. Becker – in memory of David Docter, Wally Koch
  • Michelle Bendett
  • Bri Bergstrom
  • Zane Biles
  • Steven Boehlke
  • Kristina Boerger
  • Mary Bondeson – in honor of Bret Amundson
  • Philip Brown
  • Philip & Carolyn Brunelle
  • Evan Byler
  • Zachariah Carlson
  • Carlson’s Piano World
  • Richard Carrick
  • Corey Cellurale
  • Complete Family Eyecare
  • Kade Davidson – in honor of Rene Clausen
  • John DeCausemaker – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Kira Degerness
  • Ryan Deignan
  • James Deignan
  • Megan Dimich
  • Patricia Lea Dokken – in memory of Alice T. Larsen
  • Dennis & JoAnn Doran – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Carol Dunbar – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Richard L. Duncan
  • Peter Durow
  • Marie Spar Dymit – in memory of Alice T. Larsen
  • Mary Ebanks
  • Sylvia Coates Erickson – in memory of James F. Coates
  • Jason Etten
  • Chad Felton
  • Alex Ferderer
  • Bryan Fisher
  • Michael Fuchs
  • Chad Garrels
  • Sarah Gilbertson
  • Martha Graber
  • Seana Graber – in honor of Kira Degerness
  • Grace Lutheran Church – in memory of Olaf G. Malmin
  • Ground Up Grace
  • Stephen & Nancy Grundahl
  • John Habermann – in honor of Michelle Gehrz
  • Shaun Halland – in memory of Betty Halland
  • Faith Harris
  • Thomas Wm Hassig
  • Michelle Hayes – in honor of Rene Clausen
  • Diane Heaney
  • Jonah Heinen
  • Kelly Heinonen
  • Mark Hemingway
  • David & Kristine Henderson – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Nathan Herfindahl – in honor of Stanely Wold
  • Martin Hidy – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Janet Holdt
  • Nicholas Hollermann
  • Andrew & Paula Holmberg – in memory of Robert L. Peterson; in honor of Bruce Becker
  • Robin Hughes
  • Aaron Humble
  • Robert & Anita Hupfer – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Jeff Iverson
  • Marc Jaros – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Michael Jeffrey
  • Dwight Jilek
  • Amy Johnson
  • Elwood Johnson – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Mark S. Johnson
  • Suzy Johnson
  • Wendy Johnson
  • Matt Kiminski
  • Stephen & Maria Kingsbury
  • Kristin Kivell
  • Thomas & Nancy Knutson – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Aaron Kohrs
  • Iris Kolodji
  • Jonathan Kopplin – in honor of Karen Jacobson
  • Michael Kovic
  • Matt Krage
  • Jennifer Krinke
  • Zachary Kubasta
  • Alison Kulseth
  • Reid Larsen
  • Teri Larson – in memory of Alice T. Larsen
  • Garrett & Holly Lathe
  • Diana J. Leland – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Diana J. Leland – in memory of Robert Scholz
  • Lorene Lewison
  • Carl H. & Jean C. Lipke – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Isaac Lovdahl
  • Karen Lutgen
  • Kali Malaski
  • Marie Spar Dymit
  • Jody Martinson
  • Patricia Mason
  • Michael McDeid – in memory of Elaine McDeid
  • Michael McGaghie
  • Chris McGinley
  • Melanie Mcivor
  • David Mennicke
  • Karla J. Miller
  • Leah Mockenhaupt
  • Natalia Moiseeva – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Emily Moser
  • Rick Murphy
  • Shawn Neisen
  • Mark & Ardis Nelson
  • Rylee Newton
  • Stephanie Nolting
  • Brandon Nordhues
  • David & Carol Nordli
  • Josh Palmquist
  • Andrew Parr
  • Kyle & Kathryn Pederson
  • Gervaise Peterson – in memory of Kirstin M. Peterson
  • Gerald W. Peterson – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Patricia L. Peterson – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Bruce & Candace Phelps
  • Laura Quaintance
  • Kathryn Reese
  • Richard & Jennifer Robbins
  • Rodgers Classic Organs
  • Martha M. Rossing – in memory of Don Levsen
  • Jake Runestad
  • Jonathan Rydberg
  • Judy Sagen
  • Bobby Schlidt
  • Virginia Schubert – in memory of Robert L. Peterson
  • Stephanie Schumacher
  • See Change Treble Choir
  • Michael Sellheim
  • Sheila K. Shusterich
  • Wyatt Steinke
  • Brian & Jenny Stubbs
  • Timothy C. Takach & Jocelyn Hagen
  • Terri Thomas
  • Nathan Thompson
  • Daryl Timmer
  • Hana Trump
  • Stephanie Trump
  • Bernie & Janet Wagnild
  • Therese Walth
  • Shekela Wanyama
  • Madison Wilts
  • Eldrid Wittkamper – in memory of Alice T. Larsen
  • Philip and Jane Wold
  • Grace Young
  • Susan Zemlin

Gifts to the FMC Endowment Fund

Acknowledge a mentor, colleague, relative or friend, by donating to the FMC Endowment Fund. Your donations in ANY amount are welcomed at ANY time.

Your gift to the FMC Endowment Fund supports choral music excellence in Minnesota today and into the future. ACDA of Minnesota is a non-profit 501 (c) (3) organization and all gifts are tax deductible.

For more information or to make an on-line contribution by credit card click: [link]

Or mail your contribution to:

FMC Endowment Fund
Bruce W.  Becker, Executive Director
13288 Downey Trail
Apple Valley MN. 55124

We greatly appreciate your continuing generosity and support. Thank you!


ACDA-MN leadership, overseeing the FMC Endowment Fund and the Alice T. Larsen Memorial Scholarship Fund, annually advises our investment management firm to adopt selective investment strategies that utilize socially conscious investment options that focus on environmental, social, and corporate governance criteria.

Members of the FMC Endowment Fund Committee

  • Rolf Anderson
  • Daniel Digre
  • Marie Spar Dymit
  • Rikka Estenson
  • Nancy Grundahl
  • Stephen Grundahl
  • Jon Kietzer
  • Melanie Kjellberg
  • Kathryn Larson
  • Karla Miller
  • Mark Nelson, Chair
  • Randy Schafer
  • Daryl Timmer
  • Michael Walsh, Chair-Elect
  • Bruce W. Becker, Executive Director of Development

Members of the FMC Advisory Committee

  • Anton E. Armstrong
  • Philip Brunelle
  • Carol Barnett
  • Abbie Betinis
  • Rene Clausen
  • Jocelyn Hagen
  • Sigrid Johnson
  • Brian Newhouse
  • Jake Runestad
  • Kathy Saltzman Romey
  • Timothy C. Takach
  • Dale Warland