Steady Growth and A Remarkable Decade of Major Programs and Gifts
Authored by Mary Kay Geston and Bruce W. Becker
As we approached a new millennium, a steady stream of donations from individual, foundation, and corporate donors helped the endowment grow. In its first five years the endowment funded thirty-nine scholarships to attend Summer Dialogue, seven scholarships to attend divisional or national ACDA conferences, and awarded $4,500 in graduate scholarships to ACDA-MN members.
The F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund is indebted to ACDA members and supporters of choral music whose faithful giving has been, and continues to be, essential to the endowment’s ability to invest in the choral life of Minnesota. In its first ten years the endowment received notable gifts from members and friends. Several retired state members have also made commitments to the endowment in their wills.
While individual donations are the lifeblood of the endowment, two remarkable gifts stand out in the endowment’s history. In August, 2002 the Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music (WSCM-6) was held in Minneapolis. Chaired by ACDA-MN member Philip Brunelle, the board of directors for WSCM-6 created the International Choral Festival (ICF), a series of public concerts in Minneapolis and St. Paul featuring each of the international choirs that performed for registrants of the symposium. In a gesture of goodwill and thanks for ACDA-MN member’s assistance, Brunelle presented the endowment with a check for $90,000 representing the proceeds from the ICF. This singular donation generated great excitement about the endowment’s future prospects.
Minnesota members who served on the WCS-6 Organizing Committee were:
- Philip Brunelle, President
- Robert C. Johnson, Vice President
- Diana J. Leland, Secretary
- Frank Stubbs, Treasurer
- Bruce W. Becker, Program Chair
- Steven O. Boehlke
- Lauretta Graetz
- John Hoeschler
- Wayne M. Kivell
- Scott Romaine
- Kathy Romey
- Timothy Sawyer
Fast forward four years and the endowment committee’s well-laid plans for a second grand concert ten years after the first have come to fruition. The F. Melius Christiansen 135th Anniversary Concert on November 19, 2006 at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, brought together choirs of Augsburg College, Concordia College-Moorhead, Concordia University-St. Paul, Gustavus Adolphus College, and St. Olaf College. Once again, the massed choirs concluded the sell-out concerts, which were offered twice in one day, by singing F. Melius Christiansen’s beloved arrangement of “Beautiful Savior” under the direction of Kenneth Jennings.
At the 2006 anniversary concerts coordinated by ACDA-MN members Bruce Becker and Diana Leland, a one-of-a-kind $100,000 matching gift to the endowment fund from the Minnesota-owned Wenger Foundation was announced. In response to this major gift, the endowment committee has redoubled its efforts to reach the original goal of $500,000. Endowment committee members along with the entire membership of ACDA-MN worked diligently and successfully to raise the $100,000 by December 31, 2007 to meet the Wenger Foundation’s challenge.
In the fall of 2009, the stage was set for the next FMC Committee’s sponsored grand event, that of a Minnesota Collegiate Choral Festival, specifically featuring choirs from a non-Lutheran tradition. The goal of the Committee was to reach out and celebrate Minnesota’s rich choral heritage so evident in our state and private college programs. Festival Coordinator Steven Albaugh assembled an outstanding steering committee and made plans to bring together five collegiate choirs on Saturday, November 14 at Benson Great Hall at Bethel University in St. Paul. Auditioned choirs that were selected for this historic performance were the Minnesota State University, Mankato Concert Choir; Northwestern College Choir; Saint John’s University Men’s Chorus; University Singers, University of Minnesota Duluth; and the University of St. Thomas Chamber Singers. The choirs sang individually and combined to form a massed choir under the guest direction of Craig Jessop, head of the Music Department at Utah State University in Logan, Utah, and former conductor of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. The highlight of the performance was the world premiere of a new choral work entitled look up… by Minnesota native composer Eric William Barnum.