By Jamie Andrews

IDEA/FMC 151st Anniversary Concerts Task Force

A robust group of 16 ACDA-MN members have been meeting since December to determine how the proceeds from FMC 151st Anniversary Concerts will be distributed in support of our diversity goals, and to build the infrastructure needed to distribute the funds. Considering the impact that these funds will have on the choral community, and the fact that we are building something new for ACDA-MN, has energized the task force. The group is slated to meet through April and will share the results of their work with the board of directors in June.

Thank you to these committed volunteers –

  • Zack Carlson
  • Richard Carrick
  • Issac Frauendienst
  • Adam Giebner
  • Diane Heaney
  • Paula Holmberg
  • Amy Johnson
  • Melanie Kjellberg
  • Anne Klus
  • Kathy Larson
  • Mark Nelson
  • Nicole Thietje
  • Kennedy Niska
  • Laura Temple
  • Michael Walsh
  • Laura Quaintance

FMC 151st Anniversary Concert summary

Thank you to all those who attended, performed, and contributed to two amazing performances celebrating the 151st birth anniversary of Minnesota’s own F. Melius Christiansen, the ‘father of North American a cappella choral music’ and founder of the St. Olaf Choir.  This historic celebration illustrated the passion and dedication of the choral community throughout Minnesota and our country as 327 performers from six choirs performed for an audience of over 2800 at Orchestra Hall in downtown Minneapolis on Sunday, November 20.

Two previous anniversary observances in 1996 and 2006 directly established and grew ACDA-MN’s F. Melius Christiansen Endowment Fund whose principal fund balance recently surpassed one million dollars. Since its establishment in 1996, the interest from the Fund has supported 567 Minnesota choral directors to receive scholarships to pursue graduate studies and attend professional development conferences.

Over the years as donations continued flowing into the Fund, many from audience members of these previous anniversary events, the Fund was able to additionally support needs-based students in grades 4-10 to fully participate in the ACDA-MN state honor choir program.  Since 2021, growth of the Fund has been able to support 8 choirs with travel expenses to perform at the annual state conference.  And since the pandemic, the Fund has been able to keep the doors open of our organization by supporting the ACDA-MN general budget for our full-time executive staff, thereby reducing the overall financial burden on the organization which helps to keep State Conference and Summer Dialogue registration rates low for our members.

The recent FMC 151st anniversary event recorded 439 new donors, 148 corporate and individual sponsors, and 28 advertisers, who contributed over $122,000 in support of ACDA-MN as it seeks to purpose these proceeds to develop and support new and ongoing diversity initiatives programming into the future.

ACDA-MN is grateful for the contributions of the following choirs and their conductors who performed in these historic concerts:

The Augsburg Choir • Kristina Boerger, conductor

The Concordia Choir • Michael Culloton, conductor

Concordia University Christus Chorus • David Mennicke, conductor

The Gustavus Choir • Brandon Dean, conductor

National Lutheran Choir • David Cherwien, conductor

St. Olaf Choir • Anton Armstrong, conductor

Finally, kudos goes to Bruce Becker whose vision created and produced the two original 1996 and 2006 anniversary events, and who coordinated the 2022 celebration at St. Olaf College and Orchestra Hall with members of the FMC Endowment Fund Committee. Coordinating an event for hundreds of performers, and thousands of ticket buyers is complex enough, much less having to navigate the effects of COVID-19. ACDA-MN is indebted to all these leaders (past and present) for their steadfast work in helping to establish the FMC Endowment Fund and for supporting new diversity initiatives within our organization.

Communications Committee

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 Honor Choirs


Saturday, February 11, 2023

Derrick Fox
Derrick FoxTBB Conductor
University of Nebraska
Susan Vollbrecht
Susan VollbrechtSSAA Conductor
College of St. Benedict
Merrin Guice Gill
Merrin Guice GillSATB Conductor
Bethel University


Saturday, April 29, 2023

Rehearsals and Performance:  St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church • Mahtomedi

Michelle Gehrz
Michelle GehrzChoir 1 Conductor
Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs
Bret Amundson
Bret AmundsonChoir 2 Conductor
College of St. Scholastica


Saturday, May 6, 2023

Rehearsals and Performance:  St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church • Mahtomedi

Garrett Lathe
Garrett LatheCTB Conductor
Sauk Rapids-Rice Middle School
Michelle Bendett
Michelle BendettSSA Conductor
Northfield Middle School

Meet the Candidates for Annual State Elections:  March 1-8

President – Elect

Richard Robbins
Richard RobbinsDir. of Choral Activities, U of M - Duluth
Mark Johnson
Mark JohnsonArtistic Director, Minnesota Boychoir

Central District Chair

Nicole Lambrecht
Nicole LambrechtAssistant Professor, Bethel University Minnesota Center Chorale
Tim Cayler
Tim CaylerDirector of Music, Catholic Area Faith Community of Jesus Our Living Water

Southeast District Chair

Stephanie Schumacher
Stephanie SchumacherConductor, Children's Chorus & Treble Choir, Honor Choirs of Southeast Minnesota
Peter Schlief
Peter SchliefDirector, Vocal Performance Center of Excellence, Shattuck-St. Mary’s School

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.


Presented at the 2022 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 2022 State Conference this past November.

Photo credit: Alton Accola

Creative Programming Award
co-sponsored by VocalEssence

Jane Ramseyer Miller
Jane Ramseyer MillerOne Voice Mixed Chorus
(L-R) Philip Brunelle, Jane Ramseyer Miller, Stephanie Trump

Jane Ramseyer Miller is in her 27th year as Artistic Director for One Voice Mixed Chorus, Minnesota’s LGBTA chorus and also serves as Artistic Director for GALA Choruses, a national association of 200 LGBTQ choruses. With GALA Choruses she has been instrumental in cultivating GALA’s New Harmony resources, addressing Equity, Access and Belonging. She holds Masters of Music in Choral Conducting from the University of Minnesota and a BA in Psychology from the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada. Ramseyer Miller especially enjoys creative community collaborations and has created choral music with Ikidowin/The Indigenous Peoples’ Task Force, The Women’s Cancer Resource Center, Shakopee Women’s Correctional Facility, In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theatre, Kairos Dance Theatre, Mu Daiko, and Teens Rock the Mic. Choral highlights include over 25 new commissioned works—includingBayard Rustin: The Man Behind the Dream—and One Voice’s 2022 ReMembering Singing Water film.

Emerging Choral Director Award

Eliza Lewis-O'Connor
Eliza Lewis-O'ConnorWayzata High School
(L-R) Wendy Souja, Eliza Lewis-O’Connor, Stephanie Trump

Eliza Lewis-O’Connor, originally from Fargo, ND just began her first year conducting choirs and teaching AP Music Theory at Wayzata High School. Prior to her time in Wayzata, Eliza spent seven years working with singers in White Bear Lake. After three years teaching at the middle school level, she transitioned to WBLAHS and co-taught eight high school choirs and served as the vocal director for the 9-12 musicals. For the past eight summers, Eliza has also served as the vocal director for the Main Stage musicals at Trollwood Performing Arts School in Moorhead, MN. Choirs under her direction have consistently earned superior ratings at large group contest, and she is an active member of ACDA and MMEA. Eliza earned her bachelor of music degree in Vocal Music Education from St. Olaf College and her master of music degree in Choral Conducting from Northern Arizona University. While pursuing her graduate degree, she also directed the NAU University Singers, co-directed the NAU Chamber Singers, and chorus mastered two lyric theatre productions. When she is not conducting choirs or vocal directing musicals, Eliza enjoys laughing and singing with her husband, Isaac, and newborn daughter, Freya!

Minnesota Choral Director of the Year Award

Mark Johnson
Mark JohnsonMinnesota Boy Choir
(L-R) Sarah Abelsen, Mark Johnson, Stephanie Trump

Mark Johnson grew up on a dairy farm in southwest Minnesota (Dovray) and attended Westbrook Public Schools. Starting piano lessons during the summer of 4th grade and percussion the next year, he enjoyed being a member of every music ensemble this small school district had to offer. Mark began his work with the Minnesota Boychoir in 1992 as the accompanist and was hired as the Artistic Director in 1993. Mr. Johnson holds a degree in vocal music education from St. Olaf College and he taught general and choral music at Central Junior High in Forest Lake for six years before becoming full-time conductor of the Boychoir. From 1995 to 2007, he was a member of the staff at Albemarle, a summer music camp program of the American Boychoir School in Princeton, New Jersey. Mr. Johnson’s reputation in choral work, especially with children’s groups, has led to many invitations to work as a clinician, accompanist and adjudicator for honors choirs and festivals across the globe. He conducted the Minnesota ACDA 7th grade Boys Honor Choir in 2005, the Young Men’s track for the World Voices Australia Festival at the Sydney Opera House in 2007, the Middle Level Honor Choir for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association Convention in 2010, the SAB Honor Choir for Loudoun County Virginia in 2011, the Minnesota ACDA 4-6th grade Boys Honor Choir in 2015, MMEA’s Celebration of Young Musicians Festivals in 2014 and 2016, and the Minnesota ACDA 9-10 TBB Honor Choir in 2019. Under his direction, the Minnesota Boychoir has performed at local, regional and national ACDA, MMEA and Kodály Conventions, at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C., the Sydney Opera House, Saint Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican and La Sagrada Família in Barcelona. Mark has led the choir on nearly 50 performance tours and released 20 compact discs of a variety of music sung by the Boychoir. Professional memberships include Chorus America, the American Choral Directors Association and the Minnesota Music Educators Association. Mark has also served as the American Choral Directors Association Repertoire and Standards Chair for Boychoirs at the state and regional levels.

Minnesota Choral Director of the Year Award

David C. Dickau
David C. DickauMinnesota State University, Mankato, Emeritus
(L-R) David Dickau, Stephanie Trump

Dr. David Dickau is a choral conductor and composer residing in Boise, Idaho. He retired in May 2019 from a career as Director of Choral Activities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. As a part of his duties, Dr. Dickau conducted the Concert Choir and taught conducting and composition. David was granted the Distinguished Faculty Scholar Award in 2008 and in 2009 was awarded the teacher of the year at the university. Dr. Dickau holds advanced degrees in Choral Music from Northwestern University (Evanston, IL) and the University of Southern California (Los Angeles, CA.) He has taught choral music on both the high school and college levels and has conducted community and church choirs. He also served as music director of Magnum Chorum, a Twin Cities-based St. Olaf alumni choir.
David has been an active member of the American Choral Directors Association, having served as a national Repertoire and Standards Chair from 1987 to 1991. He has been a clinician at ACDA national and regional conventions and has conducted several regional festivals. He also served as President of ACDA of Minnesota. Dr. Dickau has performed at four national ACDA conventions.
Dr. Dickau has filled over eighty commissions for choral festivals, churches, and schools. Commissions have included Dresden Canticles, composed in honor of the rebuilding of the Frauenkirche in Dresden, Germany, “View from the Air” commissioned by the Charles and Anne Morrow Lindbergh Foundation in honor of the seventieth anniversary of Charles Lindbergh’s historic trans-Atlantic flight, and Effortlessly in honor of the centennial celebration of the Archdiocese of Des Moines.

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.