[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, 2019.


Stephanie Trump

Stephanie Trump
Robbinsdale Armstrong High School, Plymouth
6 year term: 2019-2025


Chris Larson
Central Middle School, Wayzata
3 year term: 2019-2022


Richard Robbins
University of Minnesota-Duluth
3 year term: 2019-2022


Chad Felton
Lac qui Parle Valley Public Schools, Madison
3 year term: 2019-2022

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


Susan Zemlin

Susan Zemlin
Blaine High School
2013 – 2019


Jeff Dahl
Wayzata High School


Jerome Upton
East High School, Duluth


Seana Graber
Luverne Public Schools


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

ACDA-MN Summer Dialogue

The GREAT Minnesota Choral Get-Together!

GREAT People • GREAT Sessions • GREAT Food • GREAT Times



Join us August 6-9 as the ACDA-MN community gathers together for the 34th annual Summer Dialogue at St. Olaf College in Northfield. Thirteen reading sessions of newly released and “tried and true” titles, along with twelve relevant and engaging interest sessions targeting all levels of teaching, have been planned by conference chair and ACDA-MN President Paula Holmberg. Evening afterglows have been scheduled in some of Northfield’s most popular social establishments. Again this year… Beer Choir (version 2.0) scheduled for Thursday night at the Tanzenwald Brewery.


Headliners for the event are as follows:

Bret Amundson
Guest conductor of the Directors’ Chorus

JoAnn Miller
  Guest conductor of the All-State SATB Choir

Michael Culloton
Guest conductor of the All-State TB Choir

Therees Hibbard
Guest conductor of the All-State SA Choir

Bridget Sweet
University of Illinois-Urbana

Sigrid Johnson
Clinician for the annual Student Conductor Workshop

The Wednesday schedule will feature the 9th annual Exhibits Fair with over 50 exhibitors representing undergraduate and graduate schools, tour companies, fundraising and attire specialists, composers, music vendors, community and professional choirs, FABULOUS door prizes will be awarded.

The exclusive online Summer Dialogue registration site is open now with early discount registration rates available until May 31 (new dates this year).

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=’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 2018-19, more schools, more directors, and more selected singers participated in the SEVEN honor choirs.

  • 4-5-6 BOYS: 178 auditions; 120 selected
  • 4-5-6 GIRLS: 410 auditions; 150 selected
  • 7-8 TTB: 239 auditions; 150 selected
  • 7-8 SSA: 450 auditions; 150 selected
  • 9-10 HIGH SCHOOL: 1054 auditions; 140 each selected in SSAA and SATB; 120 selected in TBB

TOTAL: 2331 auditions; 970 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 — Ben Henschel and Kelly Newell
  • 4-5-6 Girls — Zan Thrasher and Jennifer Hazen

The 2019-20 honor choir season will feature all seven honor choirs with these guest conductors:

  • 7-8 TTB — Nicole Thietje, New Prague High School
  • 7-8 SSA — Melanie Kjellberg, Andover High School
  • 9-10 SATB — Aimee Beckmann-Collier, Drake University
  • 9-10 SSAA — Brandon Dean, Gustavus Adolphus College
  • 9-10 TBB — Ryan Beeken, Indiana University of Pennsylvania
  • 4-5-6 Boys — Andre Heywood, St. John’s Boys’ Choir
  • 4-5-6 Girls — Michelle Gehrz, Angelica Cantanti Youth Choirs


Special thanks to outgoing 4-5-6 Boys’ Co-Chairs Ben Henschel and Kelly Newell, and 4-5-6 Girls’ Co-Chair Zan Thrasher for their outstanding leadership over the past several years.

Ben Henschel

Kelly Newell

Zan Thrasher

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=’STATE CONFERENCE’]

2019 State Conference

Andre Thomas, Headliner!

Check your calendars now for the weekend of November 15 & 16, 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.

As a special feature of the State Conference weekend, ACDA-MN will welcome renowned choral conductor, composer, clinician and our ACDA national President-Elect, Andre Thomas. Dr. Thomas will headline several major events during his one-week Minnesota residency co-sponsored by VocalEssence.

THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 14 – Urban Initiatives High School Choral Festival

Augsburg University, Minneapolis

Featuring three urban high school choirs:

  • Minneapolis South High School – Laurie Meyers, conductor
  • Open World Learning Academy (St. Paul) – Alex Ferderer, conductor
  • VocalEssence Singers of this Age (SOTA) – G. Phillip Shoultz III, conductor
  • (and) 15 SATB quartets from urban Minneapolis and St. Paul public schools

FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 15 – Star of the North High School Choral Festival

Trinity Lutheran Church, Stillwater & St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi

Featuring three auditioned high school choirs:

  • Choir 1
  • Choir 2
  • Choir 3

At 8:00 pm, all six Thursday and Friday festival choirs plus SATB quartets will appear in a combined festival concert led by Dr. Thomas at St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi, the site of the annual state conference weekend.

SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 16 – Collegiate Choral Festival • Way Over Beulah Land

Trinity Lutheran Church, Stillwater & St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church, Mahtomedi

Featuring four invited collegiate/university choirs:

  • Minnesota State University-Moorhead – Erynn Millard, conductor
  • St. Olaf College Chapel Choir – Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, conductor
  • University of Minnesota-Duluth – Richard Robbins, conductor
  • University of St. Thomas, St. Paul – Angela Broeker, conductor

In addition to these three choral festivals, Dr. Thomas will deliver a headlining keynote session couched as a conducting masterclass for ALL conference registrants, scheduled on Friday, 9:00-10:30 am. Several Minnesota conductors will be selected to conduct one of their favorite pieces with the conference registrants serving as the choir. More details on this unique program feature to be announced at a later date.

Concluding his Minnesota residency on Sunday afternoon, November 17, Andre Thomas will conduct a full performance of his newest major work entitled: Mass: A Celebration of Life and Joy at Orchestra Hall with the full VocalEssence Chorus and orchestra.

Conference Chair and ACDA-MN President-Elect Diane Heaney has again spearheaded a new and innovative 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 is 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.

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


  • South Junior HIgh School Choir, St. Cloud
  • Kristen Mattick, conductor
  • Michael Sellheim, District Chair


  • Prima Voce from Allegro Choral Academy, Apple Valley
  • Kari Douma, conductor
  • Amy Johnson,  District Chair


  • Senior Choir, Bethlehem Lutheran Church, Minneapolis
  • David Mennicke, conductor
  • Jeff Dahl, District Chair


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


  • Lincoln High School Concert Choir, Thief River Falls
  • Darcy Reese, conductor
  • Dwight Jilek,  District Chair


  • Bella Fiore from Sing Out Loud, Rochester
  • Stephanie Nolting, conductor
  • Michael Jeffrey, District Chair


  • SMSU Chorale, Southwest Minnesota State University, Marshall
  • Stephen Kingsbury, conductor
  • Seana Graber, District Chair

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 July 1.

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



[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:


Robin Hughes
R&R Repertoire Specific Coordinator (2017-19)


Marie Scholtz
R&R Chair for Children’s Choirs (2015-19)


Carole Whitney

Carole Whitney
R&R Chair for Ethnic Music (2015-19)


Brad Miller
R&R Chair for Youth and Student Activities (2015-19)


Timothy Sawyer
R&R Chair for Community Choirs (2015-19)


Erynn Millard
R&R Chair for Contemporary Commercial Choirs (2015-19)


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=’FMC SCHOLARSHIP AWARDS’]

Recent FMC scholarship awards have been award to:

2019 ACDA National Conference – Kansas City

  • Evan Byler – Bemidji State University
  • Emily Moser – Minnesota State University-Moorhead
  • Mark Neppl – University of Minnesota-Duluth
  • Kendra Penke – St. Cloud State University
  • Gary Ruschman – St. Timothy Lutheran Church & One Voice Mixed Chorus

2019 Graduate Study

  • Bailey Giest Schlotmann – Northern State University, Aberdeen SD
  • Samuel Grace – Jacobs School of Music, University of Indiana
  • Isaac Lovdahl – North Dakota State University, Fargo

2019 Alice T. Larsen Memorial Scholarship

  • Brianna Velzke Bergstrom – University of St. Thomas

2019 State 9-10 High School Honor Choir

  • 10 scholarship awards

2019 State 4-5-6 Boys and Girls Honor Choir

  • 13 scholarship awards

2019 NextDirection Choral Leadership Conference

  • Josh Kainz, St. Michael Albertville High School, Joe Osowski and Brandon Berger, advisors
  • Jack Slavik, Andover High School, Melanie Kjellberg, advisor

The 2018-19 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:

  • 2018 Summer Dialogue — 6 scholarships @ $1,920
  • 2018 Summer Dialogue Student Conductor — 9 scholarships @ $2,880
  • 2018 State 7-8 Honor Choir — 9 scholarships @ $924
  • 2019 State 9-10 Honor Choir — 10 scholarships @ $1,906
  • 2019 ACDA National Conference — 5 scholarships @ $4,115
  • 2019 Graduate Study — 3 scholarships @ $10,000
  • 2019 Alice T. Larsen Memorial Scholarship — 1 scholarship @ $1,500
  • 2019 State 4-5-6 Honor Choir — 13 scholarships @ $1,418
  • 2019 NextDirection Leadership Conference — 2 scholarships @ $600

2018-19 TOTAL — 58 scholarships @ $24,453



[toggle expand=0 title=’2019 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, 2019



[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 2018-19:

Managing Editor:

Ben Henschel

Ben Henschel
Blake Upper School, Minneapolis
Ben is leaving this leadership position at the end of this school year after serving since 2015.

Associate Editors:

Peter J. Durow
From Age to Age
Peter will be assuming the role as Managing Editor beginning in the 2019-20 school year.


Garret Lathe

Garrett Laethe
Youth Chorale of Central Minnesota


Cory Westgard
Blaine High School