[toggle expand=0 title=’UPDATE 2019-20 HONOR CHOIR SEASON’]

ACDA-MN Honor Choirs
Inspiring New Generations For Excellence

Thanks to the hundreds of ACDA-MN members who mentored their student singers through the state honor choir audition program. In 2019-20, more schools, more directors, and more selected singers participated in the seven honor choirs.

  • 4-5-6 BOYS:      135 auditions; 96 selected
  • 4-5-6 GIRLS:      428 auditions; 150 selected
  • 7-8 TTB:      249 auditions; 155 selected
  • 7-8 SSA:      428 auditions; 150 selected
  • 9-10 HS:      1094 auditions; 144 selected in SSAA; 145 selected in SATB; 120 selected in TBB

TOTAL:      2334 auditions; 960 selected

Also, a BIG thanks to the ACDA-MN members who accepted the invitation to be audition screeners throughout the past school year. Screeners represented all singing levels and represented all geographic districts in the state.

Our Honor Choir leadership team offers outstanding support to our student singers and their directors throughout the year. Thanks to these co-chairs…

  • 7-8 TTB:      Reid Larsen and Brandon Nordhues
  • 7-8 SSA:      Megan Cox and Katie Irvin
  • 9-10 SATB:      Sarah Gilbertson and Chad Garrels
  • 9-10 SSAA:      Laura Odden Quaintance and Wendy Suoja
  • 9-10 TBB:      Jim Cox and Kyle Eastman
  • 4-5-6 Boys:      Erik Ekstrom and Deveny Beaton
  • 4-5-6 Girls:      Jennifer Hazen, Julie Conzemius, and Melanie McIvor

The 2020-21 honor choir season will feature all seven honor choirs with these guest conductors:

  • 7-8 TTB:      Lin Warren, Hastings High School (ret)
  • 7-8 SSA:      Shelly Schaeufele, Waukee (IA) Community Schools
  • 9-10 SATB:      Kyle Fleming, Regis University, Denver CO
  • 9-10 SSAA:      G. Phillip Shoultz, VocalEssence
  • 9-10 TBB:      Greg Douma, Eastview High School, Apple Valley
  • 4-5-6 Boys:      Henry Leck, Indiana Children’s Choir (conductor Laureate)
  • 4-5-6 Girls:      Karen Howard, University of St. Thomas

Special thanks to outgoing 4-5-6 Boys’ Co-Chair Jennifer Ulven and 4-5-6 Girls’ Co-Chair Jennifer Hazen for their outstanding leadership over the past several years.

Jennifer Ulven
4-5-6 Boys’ Co-Chair

Jennifer Hazen
4-5-6 Girls’ Co-Chair

Look for more information about the exciting 2020-21 honor choir season posted via The Weekly Pulse and Star of the North.net Fall issue later this summer.



[toggle expand=0 title=’ACDA-MN ELECTIONS RESULTS’]


The annual ACDA-MN elections yielded the naming of new leaders to the State Board of Directors, each assuming their positions on July 1, 2020.

State Secretary

Two Year Term 2020-22

Sarah Abelsen
Minnewashta Elementary School, Minnetonka


Central District Chair

Three Year Term 2020-23


Mary Ebanks
Big Lake High School


Southeast District Chair

Three Year Term 2020-23


Michael Jeffrey
Pine Island Public Schools


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

Central District Chair

Michael Sellheim
Annandale High School


[toggle expand=0 title=’THANKS TO OUTGOING R&R CHAIRS’]


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:


Caroline Swanson
R&R Youth Choirs Coordinator (2016-20)


Michael McGaghie
R&R Coordinator and Chair for
Youth College/University Choirs (2016-20)


Matthew Culloton
R&R Chair for Minnesota Composers (2016-20)


Sarah Ludwig
R&R Chair for SSAA Choirs (2016-20)


Among the duties of these dedicated servants was to screen titles for Summer Dialogue reading packets, provide resources for the Pick Six repertoire articles, and provide leadership in developing interest sessions and special performance events for Summer Dialogue and State Conference.



[toggle expand=0 title=’2020 SUMMER DIALOGUE’]

A message from ACDA of MN Executive Assistant Kristin Kivell

Signed: Paula Holmberg, Summer Dialogue Program Chair,
ACDA-MN Vice President
Diane Heaney, ACDA-MN President
Stephanie Trump, ACDA-MN President-Elect

Acting out of an abundance of care and concern for our member community,  the ACDA-MN Executive team is announcing the cancellation of the 2020 Summer Dialogue. We will be very eager to see you in 2021, for a year’s worth of saved-up sharing, in-person dialogue, relevant topic and reading sessions, All-State Choir observations, exhibits fair and the Director’s Chorus!

The ACDA-MN leadership team seeks to discern how to meet your most urgent and sustained needs. As a result, we anticipate that a variety of on-line and virtual sessions will be offered over the next several months.  In addition,  we are working with our music vendor partner JW Pepper-Minnesota, to provide all Summer Dialogue reading packets with on-line access.

Please stay tuned for these and other updates to be communicated by email, the Weekly Pulse, social media and on our website at acda-mn.org.

As we consider all of these new opportunities for professional development and growth, we welcome your suggestions and feedback for topics and sessions that you would like us to develop.



[toggle expand=0 title=’FMC SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS’]


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) @ $419
  • Partial (registration only) @ $279


  1. 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 May 15, 2020

Other recent FMC scholarship awards have been award to:

2020 ACDA Regional Conference – Milwaukee WI

  • Brad Beale – Foley Public Schools

2020 Graduate Study

  • Douglas Carnes – Royal Irish Academy of Music (DMA)
  • Chad Garrels – University of St. Thomas (MA)
  • Jonah Heinen – University of Oregon, Eugene (MA)
  • Nicholas Hollermann – University of St. Thomas (MA)
  • Michael Jeffrey – University of St. Thomas (MA)
  • Chris McGinley – University of Minnesota (DMA)
  • James Wolter – Eastman School of Music (DMA)

2020 Alice T. Larsen Memorial Scholarship

  • Jaclyn Schmeichel – University of St. Thomas

2020 State 9-10 High School Honor Choir

  • 7 scholarship awards

2020 State 4-5-6 Boys and Girls Honor Choir

  • 6 scholarship awards

2020 NextDirection Choral Leadership Conference

  • Jake Hansen, Brainerd High School, Brian Stubbs, advisor
  • Ally McNutt, Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, Stephanie Trump, advisor

The 2019-20 academic year produced these total scholarships and amounts. Thanks to hundreds of ACDA-MN member and non-member donors, scholarships were awarded in these categories:

  • 2019 Summer Dialogue:                  8 scholarships @ $2,870
  • 2019 Summer Dialogue Student Conductor:      10 scholarships @ $1,546
  • 2019 State 7-8 Honor Choir:                  5 scholarships @ $620
  • 2020 State 9-10 Honor Choir:             7 scholarships @ $868
  • 2020 ACDA Regional Conference:              1 scholarships @ $1,000
  • 2020 Graduate Study:                  7 scholarships @ $12,800
  • 2020 Alice T. Larsen Memorial Scholarship:         1 scholarship @ $1,500
  • 2020 State 4-5-6 Honor Choir:              6 scholarships @ $744
  • 2020 NextDirection Leadership Conference:        2 scholarships @ $700

2019-20 TOTAL:                    47 scholarships @ $22,648



[toggle expand=0 title=’STATE CONFERENCE’]

Singing Through the Ages

Check your calendars now for the weekend of November 20 & 21, as ACDA-MN makes plans to produce the annual State Conference located at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi.

Over twenty interest sessions targeting our membership, who direct choirs at the elementary, middle school, high school, college/university, church, community and professional levels, will be programmed.

Special Conference Festival Events are as follows:

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 20 – Singing Through the Ages:  Lift Every Voice and Sing

A special Music and Worship Event featuring:

  • Dr. Anton Armstrong, St. Olaf College – Artistic Director and Conductor
  • Mark Hemmingway, Trinity Lutheran Church, Long Lake – Festival Coordinator

Music Ensembles Appearing:

  • St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church Senior Choir, Mahtomedi – Jan Gilbertson, conductor
  • Minnehaha Academy Singers, Minneapolis – Karen Lutgen, conductor
  • The Bethel Choir from Bethel University, St. Paul – Dr. Merrin Gill, conductor
  • Prince of Peace Lutheran Church Brass Choir – Dr. Joshua Becker, conductor
  • Bill Chouinard, organist, St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi

A commissioned piece for SATB Church Choirs, organ and brass, is being written and will be conducted by Minnesota composer Ralph Johnson from Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, Edina.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21 – Our Story • Our Song

The Impact of Choral Singing Upon Our Special Needs Senior Communities

Featuring these invited ensembles and leaders:

  • Music for Life – Jeannie Brindlee Barnett, conductor (sponsored by MacPhail Center for Music)
  • Sage Singers – Joey Clark, conductor
  • Vintage Voices – Rob Graham, conductor (sponsored by VocalEssence)
  • Voices of Experience – Jerry Rubino, conductor (sponsored by Minnesota Chorale)
  • Voices of Impact – Bruce Phelps, conductor

Conference Chair and ACDA-MN President-Elect Stephanie Trump 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 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 to access online audition site:



[toggle expand=0 title=’2020 ACE AWARD NOMINATIONS’]


The Advocate for Choral Excellence (ACE) Award is offered annually to Minnesota community citizens who make a difference by their advocacy and support for choral music in their communities.

Since 2008, awards have been presented to administrators, community choral directors, church choir directors, accompanists, piano instructors, school board members, parent booster clubs and organizations, parent volunteers, arts advocates, community organizers, music store vendors, and ACDA colleagues.

Contact your ACDA-MN District Chair for candidates to consider in your geographic area:

Central      Michael Sellheim:  msellheim@isd876.org
Metro East      Amy Johnson:  AmyB.Johnson@ahschools.us
Metro West      Chris Larson:  chris.larson@wayzataschools.org
Northeast      Richard Robbins:  rrobbins@d.umn.edu
Northwest      Dwight Jilek:  dwight.jilek@bemidjistate.edu
Southeast      Michael Jeffrey:  maria.wilson@austin.k12.mn.us
Southwest      Chad Felton:  chadjfelton@gmail.com

Deadline to receive applications is on or before June 1, 2020



[toggle expand=0 title=’FMC 150th ANNIVERSARY CONCERTS’]


Two special Identical choral concerts scheduled for November 21, 2021, (2:00 and 6:30 pm) will feature these six distinguished Minnesota choirs celebrating the 150th birth anniversary of F. Melius Christiansen, the father of a cappella choral singing in America and founder of the St. Olaf Choir.

The Augsburg Choir • The Concordia Choir-Moorhead 

The Christus Chorus of Concordia University-St. Paul

The Gustavus Choir • The St. Olaf Choir • The National Lutheran Choir

In addition, the choirs will perform the world premiere of a new piece commissioned for this event by American composer Rene Clausen.

The Christiansen choral music legacy continues to be a guiding force for ACDA-MN and the endowment fund named in his honor. All proceeds from the event will be used to ensure the vitality of choral music in Minnesota by providing direct financial support to promising Minnesota choral directors and their students wishing to further their training and experience. Since 1996, $287,557 in scholarship funds have been awarded to 501 Minnesota choral directors and their students thanks to the supporters of ACDA-MN and the FMC Endowment Fund.


[toggle expand=0 title=’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.net during 2019-20

Managing Editor:

Peter J. Durow
From Age to Age

Associate Editors:

Garrett Lathe
Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota

Cory Westgard
Blaine High School

Erik Doucette
United Methodist Church, Anoka