[toggle expand=0 title=’ACDA-MN ELECTION 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, 2018.



Sarah Abelsen
Minnewashta Elementary School, Minnetonka
2 Year Term



Amy Johnson
Coon Rapids High School
3 Year Term



Dwight Jilek
Bemidji State University
3 Year Term


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


Gillian Teoh Berbee
Lake Middle School, Woodbury
2014 – 2018


Chad Garrels
Mahtomedi High School


Michael Culloton
Concordia College, Moorhead


[toggle expand=0 title=’20/20 @ 2020′]

The ACDA-MN state board of directors, R&R coordinators, and chairs, along with several past leaders, have been meeting together over the past several years to envision what ACDA-MN will look like in 2020 and beyond.

Thus far, discussions have centered around the broad range of programming that ACDA-MN offers, and how those programming options can reflect the types of changes and adjustments needed as we enter the third decade of the second millenium.  Future meetings that will wrap up within the next fiscal year, will deal with organizational and financial structure.

Following these face-to-face meetings in August of 2018, there will be a series of recommendations sent to the State Board of Directors for further review and future implementation of best practices.

Leading this process has been Steven Albaugh, past state president and current choral director at Rosemount High School.


[toggle expand=0 title=’UPDATE: STATE HONOR CHOIRS’]

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 2017-18, more schools, more directors, and more selected singers participated in the six honor choirs.

  • 4-5-6 BOYS:  184 auditions; 120 selected
  • 4-5-6 GIRLS:  407 auditions; 150 selected
  • 7-8 TTB:  205 auditions; 150 selected
  • 7-8 SSA:  492 auditions; 150 selected
  • 9-10 HIGH SCHOOL:  867 auditions; 140 each selected in SSAA and SATB

TOTAL:  2155 auditions; 850 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…

  • Michael Skaar and Chris Larson:   7-8 TTB
  • Megan Cox and Katie Irvin:   7-8 SSA
  • Sarah Gilbertson and Kyle Eastman:  9-10 SATB
  • Laura Odden Quaintance and Wendy Suoja:  9-10 SSAA
  • Ben Henschel and Kelly Newell:  4-5-6 Boys
  • Zan Thrasher and Jennifer Hazen:  4-5-6 Girls

The 2018-19 honor choir season will feature all six existing honor choirs, plus the addition of a new 9-10 TBB choir that will rehearse and perform at the same time with the two existing 9-10 honor choirs.

Guest directors for the 2018-19 honor choir season have been named as follows:

  • 7-8 TTB:  Daniel Gutierrez, Springfield MO
  • 7-8 SSA:  Kari Lace, Jackson Middle School, Champlin
  • 9-10 SATB:  Bradley Miller, University of Minnesota-Morris
  • 9-10 SSAA:  Erynn Millard, Minnesota State University-Moorhead
  • 9-10 TBB:  Mark Johnson, Minnesota Boychoir, St. Paul
  • 4-5-6 Boys:  Rachel Lucius, Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs, Bloomington
  • 4-5-6 Girls:  Kari Werdahl, Bayview Elementary School, Waconia

Co-Chairs have been appointed to or are moving over to these new positions:

  • 9-10 TTB:  Kyle Eastman, Northfield High School
  • 9-10 TTB:  Jim Cox, Eagan High School
  • 9-10 SATB:  Chad Garrels, Mahtomedi High School
  • 7-8 TTB:  Brandon Nordhues, Sartell High School
  • 7-8 TTB:  Reid Larsen, Cottage Grove Middle School


Special thanks to outgoing 7-8 TTB Co-Chairs Michael Skaar and Chris Larson who provided a decade of outstanding and dedicated service to this honor choir program. Both Mike and Chris saw the program expand from 100 to 150 selected singers, add online auditions, online screening, incorporate new audition rubrics, and enjoy a much-appreciated permanent rehearsal/performance location at Mahtomedi High School and St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church.


Michael Skaar


Chris Larson

Look for more information about the exciting 2018-19 honor choir season posted via The Weekly Pulse and Star of the North Fall issue later this summer.


[toggle expand=0 title=’2018 SUMMER DIALOGUE’]

ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue

The GREAT Minnesota Choral Get-Together!
GREAT People • GREAT Sessions • GREAT Food • GREAT Times

Join us August 7-10 as the ACDA-MN community gathers together for the 33rd annual Summer Dialogue at St. Olaf College in Northfield.  Thirteen reading sessions of newly released and “tried and true” titles, along with ten relevant and engaging interest sessions targeting all levels of teaching, have been planned by conference chair and ACDA-MN Vice President Susan Zemlin.  Evening afterglows have been scheduled in some of Northfield’s most popular social establishments. New this year…a Beer Choir scheduled for Thursday night.

The exclusive online Summer Dialogue registration site opened on May 1 with early discount registration rates available until June 15.

Make your summer complete and get ready for the school year…attend Summer Dialogue!

Click to access Registration Site:   summerdialoguemn.info


[toggle expand=0 title=’2018 STATE CONFERENCE’]

All Are Welcome!

Check your calendars now for the weekend of November 16 & 17, 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 featured.

Conference Chair and ACDA-MN President-Elect Diane Heaney has created a new and innovative way to involve choirs representing all seven geographic districts of the state.  This past winter, each District Chair was given the charge to personally invite choirs to appear on the Friday afternoon performance schedule. The result is a fascinating celebration of a diverse group of conductors who have inspired their students to excellence in performance.

These are the choirs who have accepted the invitations of their District Chairs:


  • Forestview Middle School 7th-8th Grade Boys’ Choir, Brainerd
  • Marcus Aulie, conductor
  • Michael Sellheim, District Chair, Annandale High School


  • Hearts in Harmony, Parkview Elementary School, Roseville
  • Carrie Krause Uwadiae, conductor
  • Chad Garrels, District Chair, Mahtomedi High School


  • Schola Cantorum, Basilica of St. Mary – Minneapolis
  • Teri Larson, conductor
  • Jeff Dahl, District Chair, Wayzata High School


  • Ordean East Middle School Choir – Duluth
  • Sheila Shusterich, conductor
  • Jerome Upton, District Chair, Duluth East High School


  • Hawley High School Concert Choir
  • Carly Grandner, conductor
  • Michael Culloton, District Chair, Concordia College-Moorhead


  • Kasson Mantorville High School Choir
  • Andrew Faller, conductor
  • Maria Wilson, District Chair, Ellis Middle School, Austin


  • Worthington High School Concert Choir
  • Kerry Johnson, conductor
  • Seana Graber, District Chair, Luverne High School

While the Friday performance schedule will be filled with these choirs listed above, 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 June 15.

Click to access online audition site:   http://acda-mn.com/state-conference-concert-performance-application-2018/

As a special feature of the State Conference weekend, ACDA-MN will take time during the Saturday afternoon festival concert slot, to honor the legacy of David C. Dickau, choral composer, conductor, teacher, and leader from Minnesota State University-Mankato.


David C. Dickau

Choirs appearing in that exciting festival event are:  Magnum Chorum, Musicorum, the Northwestern Choir from the University of Northwestern-St. Paul, and two women’s choirs from Robbinsdale Armstrong and Stillwater Area High Schools.  Each choral ensemble will sing a program that features at least one of Dickau’s compositions. In addition, Dickau will compose a new commission especially created for this occasion.  Closing the celebration will be the entire assembly singing one of his most cherished works “If Music Be The Food Of Love”.


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

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

Summer Dialogue Scholarships Form

Scholarships will be awarded in these categories:

  • Full (registration and 3 nights of on-campus housing) @ $379
  • Partial (registration only) @ $259


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

Application due date is June 1, 2018

Other recent FMC scholarship awards have been award to:

2018 North Central Regional Conference-Chicago

  • Emma Jirele – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Brian Borkofsky – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Jeremiah Krueger – St. Cloud State University
  • Maria Baumann – Saint John’s University
  • Matt Kiminski – Saint John’s University
  • Kyle Lamb – St. Cloud State University
  • Gunnar Molstad – University of Minnesota-Morris

2018 Graduate Study

  • Ahmed Ansuldua – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Richard Carrick – University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
  • Zachariah Carlson – Michigan State University

2018 Alice T. Larsen Memorial Scholarship

  • Bailey Geist, Northern State University, Aberdeen SD

2018 State 9-10 High School Honor Choir

  • 6 scholarship awards

2018 State 4-5-6 Boys and Girls Honor Choir

  • 13 scholarship awards

2018 NextDirection Choral Leadership Conference

  • Jake Olson, Stillwater Area High School
  • Ethan Williams, East Ridge High School, Woodbury

The 2017-18 school year saw the most scholarships awarded EVER with the largest dollar amount from the FMC Endowment Fund.  Thanks to hundreds of ACDA-MN member and non-member donors, scholarships were awarded in these categories:

  • 2017 Summer Dialogue — 7 scholarships @ $2360
  • 2017 Summer Dialogue Student Conductor — 10 scholarships @ $1360
  • 2017 State 7-8 Honor Choir — 7 scholarships @ $600
  • 2017 World Choral Symposium — 1 scholarship @ $1500 (final payment)
  • 2018 State 9-10 Honor Choir — 6 scholarships @ $600
  • 2018 ACDA North Central Division — 8 scholarships @ $4192.88
  • 2018 Graduate Study — 3 scholarships @ $9600
  • 2018 Alice T. Larsen Memorial Scholarship — 1 scholarship @ $1500
  • 2018 State 4-5-6 Honor Choir — 13 scholarships @ $1300
  • 2018 NextDirection Leadership Conference — 2 scholarships @ $500

2017-18 TOTAL — 58 scholarships @ $23,512.88


[toggle expand=0 title=’2018 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:

Deadline to receive applications is on or before June 1, 2018


[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 2017-18:

Managing Editor:

Ben Henschel

Ben Henschel
Blake Upper School, Minneapolis

Associate Editors:


John Guidry
Forest Lake Area High School

Garret Lathe

Garrett Laethe
Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota


Katelyn Larson
Stillwater Area High School