By Jamie Andrews


Following the four months of work by the IDEA Fund Task Force, the IDEA Fund is up and running. Created by the proceeds from last November’s F. Melius Christiansen 151st Anniversary Concert, the fund made its first grant to support Danny Thompson, who is the first in his family to attend college and a current choral music education major, to continue his studies at Concordia University in St. Paul.

Grants are accepted on an ongoing basis and reviewed by a panel of six people who represent a mix of backgrounds and experience.

IDEA Review Panel

  • Diane Heaney, chair
  • Zack Carlson-Giving
  • Gaosong Heu
  • Kennedy Niska
  • Jane Ramseyer Miller
  • Sue Zemlin

More information about the IDEA Fund, including the application form, can be found at IDEA Fund.


We are looking for volunteers to join the newly formed Communications Committee. The group will look to coordinate and streamline the various channels of communication ACDA-MN currently has in an effort to better tell our amazing story.

People with interest and skills in social media, creating content, editing images and videos are encouraged to sign up.

Contact Jamie Andrews at for more information.


State 9-10 TBB, SSAA, and SATB Honor Choirs
Saturday, February 17, 2024

Guest Conductors:

Chris McGinley – TBB
University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire

Maria Ellis – SSAA
Girl Conductor, Inc.

Kira Haler Knutson – SATB
Valley City State University – North Dakota

State 4-5-6 Choir I & Choir II
Saturday, March 23, 2024
St. Michael/Albertville High School, St. Michael

Guest Conductors:

Shekela Wanyama · Choir I
University of Minnesota – Twin Cities

Joshua Pedde · Choir II
Indianapolis Children’s Choir – Indianapolis

State 7-8 CTB & SSA Honor Choir
Saturday, April 6, 2024
St. Michael/Albertville High School, St. Michael

Guest Conductors:

Zach Carlson-Giving · CTB
Wayzata High School

Sarah Gilbertson · SSA
Chanhassen High School


Meet the Candidates

East Metro District Chair

Greg Douma
Greg Douma
Shaun Halland
Shaun Halland

Northwest District Chair

Joseph Kemper
Joseph Kemper

Complete candidate bios and statements of leadership intention will be published via The Weekly Pulse in the weeks leading up to the balloting time frame.


Planning is currently underway for the annual ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue, July 31 – August 2 located at St. John’s University in Collegeville, MN. The Summer Dialogue planning team, led by ACDA-MN State President Jerry Upton, will be offering relevant and engaging sessions throughout the three-day schedule.

ACDA-MN Headliners

Bridget Sweet
Associate Professor of Music Education (Choral)
University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

D.D. Michael
Lions Voice Clinic

More updates will be shared throughout the spring, with the online registration starting in May.

presented at the 2023 State Conference

The following ACDA-MN members were nominated by their peers and selected by the ACDA-MN Board of Directors to receive these annual awards which were presented at the 2023 State Conference this past November.

Emerging Choral Director Award

Brandon Berger
Brandon BergerUniversity of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Graduate Teaching Assistant

Brandon Berger is currently a Graduate Teaching Assistant at the University of Minnesota in the Twin Cities, where he is pursuing his Master of Music degree as part of their graduate choral conducting cohort. He holds a Bachelor of Music Degree in Vocal Music Education from St. Olaf College, which he earned upon graduation in the spring of 2015. Mr. Berger is also the conductor of the high school-aged Cathedral Choir and the adult Senior Choir at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church’s West Campus in Victoria, MN.

Previously, Berger has served as a High School Choir Director in the White Bear Lake Area school district, the Director of Choral Activities at Owatonna Senior High School, and as a High School Choir Director in the St. Michael-Albertville School District. He is a past board member of the Minnesota Music Educators Association (MMEA), where he served as an editor for the organization’s publication, The Interval. He also helped to usher in a new digital presence for the organization and served as a consultant during MMEA’s recent rebranding campaign. Additionally, Berger has served as a Performing Choir Co-Coordinator during Minnesota-ACDA’s Fall Conference and also as an All-State Choir section coach for both the SATB and TTBB choirs, having most recently collaborated with Dr. Jason Max Ferdinand and the 2021-2022 All-State SATB Choir.

Berger is in demand as a guest conductor, clinician, and arranger and has served in these roles throughout Minnesota. Choirs under his direction have performed in regional performance tours throughout the midwest, as well as at State and Regional ACDA Conventions, the MMEA Midwinter Clinic, the Luther College Dorian Festival, the Wartburg Meistersinger Festival, the St. Olaf Choral Day Festival, the Concordia College Choir Festival, and as part of the Cantus High School Residency Program.

Minnesota Choral Director of the Year Award

Robin Hughes
Robin Hughes

Robin Hughes, originally from Clifton, NJ, moved to Minnesota after graduating from high school to attend Gustavus Adolphus College, where she earned her degree in K-12 Vocal Music Education. After teaching for ten years, she received her Master’s in Choral Conducting from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Robin retired as the Director of Choral Activities from Mankato East High School in 2020 after working there for 16 years. Before working at Mankato East, Hughes spent eighteen years teaching for the St. Peter Public Schools. The first three years were at North and South Elementary as the Music Specialist and the last fifteen were at St. Peter High School as the High School Choir Director. While teaching at SPHS, she also conducted the University Women’s Chorale for seven years at Minnesota State University/Mankato. From 2010-2018, Robin was on the staff for the Minnesota Music Ambassadors and directed the choir in 2016 and 2018, and is excited to join the staff for the next tour in 2024. Robin is currently directing the Soprano/Alto Ensemble (Melodia) and co-directing the Mixed Ensemble for the Mankato Area Youth Choirs and the Worship and Handbell Choirs at Christ the King Lutheran Church. Since retiring, she has directed one Broadway Teen Musical each year at the Mankato Playhouse. A highlight this past year was singing as a caregiver with the Singing Hills Chorus, a choir designed explicitly for people with Alzheimer’s and other forms of Dementia.

Robin has served ACDA-MN as the Southwest Chairperson, R&R Coordinator for Repertoire Specific Choirs, and was a member of the 2020 Initiative Committee. She is an Emeritus member of the F. Melius Endowment Committee and received the ACDA-MN Young Choral Director of the Year Award in 1996. Volunteer opportunities have included hosting and presiding at many state conferences and working at the ACDA World Symposium in Minneapolis. She also served the Minnesota Music Educators Association as the Choral Vice-President, Choral Assistant, and section/team leader for the All-State Choirs.

F. Melius Christiansen Lifetime Achievement Award

Kathy Saltzman Romey
Kathy Saltzman RomeyUniversity of Minnesota - Twin Cities, Emeritus

Kathy Saltzman Romey is Professor Emerita of Music and former Director of Choral Activities at the University of Minnesota, where she oversaw the graduate program in choral conducting and conducted choirs for thirty years. She is also Artistic Director of the 200-voice symphonic chorus, The Minnesota Chorale, which serves as principal chorus for the Minnesota Orchestra. Known for her meticulous training of choirs, Romey has conducted the Chorale in regional, national and international forums and annually coordinates BRIDGES, the nationally acclaimed education-outreach program of the Minnesota Chorale.

Romey has served as a staff member to the Oregon Bach Festival since 1984 and is chorus master of the Festival Chorus, which she prepares for annual concerts, commissions, and recording projects. Festival programs have included world premiere performances of major works by Tan Dun, Arvo Pärt, Krzysztof Penderecki, Sven-David Sandström, James MacMillan and Richard Danielpour. Romey has assisted with twelve recordings, including the Oregon Bach Festival’s 2001 Grammy Award-winning CD of Krzysztof Penderecki’s Credo under Helmuth Rilling and recent recordings of Mahler Symphonies Nos. 2, 3, and 8 with Osmo Vänskä leading the Minnesota Orchestra and Minnesota Chorale.

Active as a guest conductor, chorus master, and clinician throughout the United States and Europe, Romey serves on the staff of the Junges Stuttgarter Bach Ensemble and was a faculty member of the Weimar Bach Cantata Academy for six years. Additionally, she has prepared programs with Berkshire Choral International, the Carnegie Hall Festival Chorus, Grant Park Music Festival, Netherlands Radio Choir, Teatro del Lago Festival, and Westminster Symphonic Choir.

Romey has received various teaching awards and grants, co-authored two book chapters, and in 2014, assisted Helmuth Rilling in writing his book – MESSIAH: Understanding and Performing Handel’s Masterpiece. She was the recipient of Chorus America’s 2021 Distinguished Service award and recognized as one of four Minnesota choral luminaries at the 2021 Minnesota State Conference of the American Choral Directors Association.

About Jamie Andrews

Jamie Andrews (he/him) has over two decades of experience working in the arts, education, and nonprofit administration. He is currently the Executive Director of the American Choral Directors Association of Minnesota, and a founding member of PrimeLife Arts Learning, an on-line platform dedicated to Creative Aging. Previously he served as Development Manager for Lakeshore Players Theatre, Recruitment and Events Planning Liaison at the University of St. Thomas, and as the Chief Learning Officer at the Minnesota Opera, where he oversaw an extensive array of programs for all ages, including an industry-leading Creative Aging initiative, Music Out Loud, the first opera-based El Sistema-inspired youth program in the US, and the commission of a youth opera The Song Poet, based on the novel by Kao Kalia Yang with music by Joceyln Hagen. Active in arts advocacy, Jamie serves on the board of Minnesota Citizens for the Arts.

Jamie started his career in the arts, teaching band and choir in Forest Lake and Lester Prairie, Minnesota, after earning a bachelor’s degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. He also earned a master’s degree in Arts and Cultural Management from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.