By Jamie Andrews

ACDA-MN Election Results

Welcome to these three new board members who will begin their term on July 1, 2023.

President – Elect

Mark Johnson
Mark JohnsonArtistic Director, Minnesota Boychoir

Central District Chair

Nicole Lambrecht
Nicole LambrechtAssistant Professor, Bethel University Minnesota Center Chorale

Southeast District Chair

Stephanie Schumacher
Stephanie SchumacherConductor, Children's Chorus & Treble Choir, Honor Choirs of Southeast Minnesota

We wish to thank the following outgoing board member for their outstanding leadership and service to our organization over the past three years:

Diane Heaney
Diane HeaneyVice President
Albert Lea High School
Michael JeffreySoutheast District
Pine Island Public Schools
Tim Cayler
Tim CaylerCentral District
Catholic Area Faith Community of Jesus Our Living Water

2023 Summer Dialogue

Something Tired – Something True – Something New To You

Mark your calendar and as the ACDA-MN community gathers for the 37th annual Summer Dialogue at St. John’s University in Collegeville. Twelve repertoire and resource sessions featuring newly released titles and relevant classroom resources, along with twelve engaging interest sessions targeting all levels of teaching, have been planned by conference chair and ACDA-MN President Stephanie Trump.

Headliners for the event are as follows:

  • Philip Brunelle – keynote address
  • Matthew Mehaffey – Directors’ Chorus conductor
  • Robyn Hilger – ACDA Executive Director
  • Tersees Hibbard – EveryBODY Sing! EveryBODY Move!
  • D.D. Michael – Advice from the Lions Voice Clinic
  • Jessica Napoles – guest conductor of the All-State Mixed Choir
  • Amanda Quist – guest conductor of the All-State SA Choir
  • Marcus Simmons – guest conductor of the All-State TB Choir
  • Brad Miller – clinician for the annual Student Conductor Workshop
  • Steven Albaugh – facilitator

The Wednesday opening day schedule will feature the 12th annual Exhibits Fair with exhibitors representing undergraduate and graduate schools, tour companies, fundraising and attire specialists, composers, music vendors, community and professional choirs.

The exclusive online Summer Dialogue registration site opens on May 15 with early discount registration rates available until June 15.

Make your summer complete by attending Summer Dialogue! For more information and to register visit:

2023 State Conference

Mark your calendars now for the weekend of November 17 & 18, as ACDA-MN makes plans to produce the annual State Conference located at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi.

Featuring a wide array of interest sessions for our members who lead choirs at the elementary, middle school, high school, college/university, church, community and professional levels. Including the Sacred Choral Music Festival in the evening of Fri, Nov 17.

Conference Chair and ACDA-MN President-Elect Jerry Upton has endorsed a way to involve choirs representing all seven districts of the state. This past winter, each District Chair was given the charge to personally invite choirs to appear on the conference performance schedule. The result will again be a fascinating celebration of a diverse group of conductors who have inspired their students to excellence in performance from all geographic corners of the state.

While the Friday performance schedule will be filled with district geographic choirs, the Saturday morning and afternoon concert schedule will be filled with auditioned choirs submitting online auditions via Opus Events. Auditions are due June 1, with notification by July 1.

Click the link to access the online audition site at

State Honor Choirs

As we continue to reengage post-pandemic, we are looking forward to the Honor Choir season for 2023-24.


  • State 9-10 Honor Choirs: Saturday, February 17, 2024 (in conjunction with the MMEA Midwinter Clinic)
  • State 4-5-6 Honor Choirs: Saturday, March 23, 2024
  • State 7-8 Honor Choirs: Saturday, April 6, 2024

Guest Conductors will be:

  • 9-10 SATB — Kira Heler Knuston, Concordia College
  • 9-10 SSAA — Maria Ellis, Sheldon’s City of Music All-Star Chorus
  • 9-10 TBB — Chris McGinley, University of Wisconsin – Eau Claire
  • 4-5-6 Choir I — Shekela Wanyama, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities    
  • 4-5-6 Choir II — Joshua Pedde, Indianapolis Children’s Choir
  • 7-8 CTB — Richard Robbins, University of Minnesota – Duluth
  • 7-8 SSA — Sarah Gilbertson, Chanhassen High School

Look for more information about the exciting 2023-24 honor choir season posted via The Weekly Pulse and Star of the North Fall issue later this summer.


Assuming leadership positions effective for the 2023-24 school year are these new honor choir co-chairs:

Chris Jacobson
Chris Jacobson9-10 TBB

Chris Jacobson is currently completing his sixth year at Mora High School where he is Director of Choirs conducting four curricular and two extracurricular choirs for grades 7-12, and teaching individual voice lessons; and is the Theater Director in charge of two musicals and a play each season.  Prior to his time in Mora he taught in Foley, Brooklyn Center, and Chatfield as well as at Cretin-Derham Hall in St. Paul.  He was also the Artistic Director of the Cold Spring Mannerchor for two seasons, and was on the staff of the National Catholic Youth Choir for three seasons.

He holds a Bachelor of Arts in vocal performance and choral music education from Saint John’s University, and a Master of Education in arts integration from Lesley University in Cambridge, MA.

An active member of both ACDA and NAfMe since 2002, he has previously served as Metro East District Chair on the ACDA-MN Board, was an All-State Choir section leader for three seasons, and is currently the Region 5/6A Representative on the MMEA Board.

Zach Kubasta
Zach Kubasta9-10 SATB

Originally from Wautoma, Wisconsin, Zach Kubasta is a 2019 graduate from St. Olaf College. Zach currently teaches 6th-12th grade choir at Le Sueur-Henderson Middle School/High School, as well as 6th grade general music. Zach also serves as an officer and tenor section leader for Magnum Chorum, and is the social media manager for Northfield Youth Choirs. Zach was inspired to become a teacher due to the incredible opportunities and experiences that were presented to him in choir from his incredible music teachers back home in central Wisconsin.

We wish to acknowledge these “retiring” co-chairs for their outstanding support to our honor choir program over the years.

Chad Garrels
Chad Garrels9-10 TBB
Jonathan Kopplin
Jonathan Kopplin9-10 SATB


After several years of faithful service and leadership, ACDA-MN bids farewell and says a special thank you to the following members who have served as Repertoire & Resources (R&R) Chairs:

  • Rick Kvam
  • Stephanie Nolting
  • Bert Pinsonneault
  • Shekela Wanyama

Summer Dialogue Scholarship

Scholarship applications to attend the ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue are now available at:

Scholarships will be awarded in these categories:

  • Full (registration and 3 nights of on-campus housing) @ $439
  • Partial (registration only) @ $280


  • Recent college/university graduate or members in their first two years of teaching
  • Members attending their first Summer Dialogue regardless of years of experience

Application due date is June 1, 2023

2023 ACE Award Nominations

Members in each of the seven geographic districts within ACDA-MN, will have an opportunity to nominate colleagues to receive the annual Advocate for Choral Excellence (ACE) Award.

Past recipients have been administrators, accompanists, parent booster organizations, church and community choir conductors, civic leaders who promote the choral arts, neighboring ACDA-MN members, etc. Nominations are due to your district chairs by June 1.

Contact your District Chairs as follows:

Nominate a deserving ACDA-MN member for the annual Awards Program:  

  • Emerging Choral Director Award
  • Minnesota Choral Director of the Year Award
  • F. Melius Christiansen Lifetime Achievement Award
  • VocalEssence Creative Programming Award – (note: middle/junior high & high school choirs are eligible in 2023)

Applications require the nomination form to be filled out with three letters of recommendation.

Nominations are due June 1, 2023

Click here to submit a nomination.

Thanks to SON Editorial Team

Special thanks to these ACDA-MN members who have inspired and led the development of the Star of the North during the 2022-23 academic year:

Richard Carrick
Richard CarrickManaging Editor
The College of St. Scholastica – Duluth
Miriam Augsburger
Miriam AugsburgerAssociate Editor
Rockford Public Schools
Garrett Laethe
Garrett LaetheAssociate Editor
Youth Chorale of Central MN
Erik Doucette
Erik DoucetteAssociate Editor
United Methodist Church, Anoka
Kira Winter
Kira WinterAssociate Editor
Concordia College
Dennis Friesen-Carper
Dennis Friesen-CarperAssociate Editor
St. John’s Lutheran Church, St. Olaf

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.