The Lake Superior Youth Chorus- Celebrating 25 years!

Jerome Upton

Jerome Upton

The Lake Superior Youth Chorus is celebrating its 25th Anniversary season this year! Originating in 1992, the then-called Hermantown Youth Chorus was created with 36 singers. Their director Jerry Kaldor, a Hermantown Elementary Music Teacher, wanted to offer some of his students an additional opportunity to sing in a choir. Since then, the Hermantown Youth Chorus changed its name and began reaching out to more students outside the city of Hermantown. The LSYC has expanded into a thriving non-profit organization that serves grades 4-9. Singers come from all over the northeast region. Its three choruses, Cantemus, Concert Choir, and the Choristers- over 110 students in all- have taken the Twin Ports Area by storm! From the outstanding organizational structure to the extremely qualified ACDA conductors, LSYC has really had a positive impact on the Twin Ports area!

Dr. Bret Amundson, Director of Choral Activities at the College of Saint Scholastica, is the current Artistic Director of LSYC. In addition, he serves as the director of LSYSC’s Cantemus- singers mainly in grades 7-9. Dr. Amundson offers a youthful energetic approach to the singers, and can take them to an extremely high level of artistic singing. Cantemus is a touring choir. They are planning their next tour- the 25th Anniversary Tour for next season!

Jennifer Robbins is an Associate Artistic Director for LSYC. She directs the Concert Choir of singers from grade 5-7. Ms. Robbins provides a wealth of experience in teaching young singers. Transplanted from Texas and having over 15 years of working with elementary and middle school voices, Jennifer is a strong leader of these adolescent singers. Most singers in Concert Choir started as a Chorister.

Dr. Sarah Cohen, assistant director of choral activities at the College of St. Scholastica, is an Associate Artistic Director for LSYC. She is the director of the Choristers group that serves singers in grades 3-5. As director of the Choristers she exudes a powerful youthful energy and unending positive leadership brings out the best in these youngest of the LSYC singers! Dr. Cohen also coordinates the Prelude program which is offered in area schools. She and her staff provide beginning choral instruction to students in grades 2-4. “Our goal is to teach these kids the basics of singing and music theory in a choir setting,” Dr. Cohen reflects. “There are currently about 65 singers enrolled in the Prelude program which serves Duluth, Superior, and Hermantown schools.” It is hopeful that this program can expand to further school districts in the future.

In addition to the Prelude outreach, LSYC also offers a summer choral workshop. The Summer Sing is open to students entering grades 3-6 in the fall. It is a weeklong day camp offered on the campus of St. Scholastica at the end of July. Students do not need to be members of LSYC to enroll. Students spend the week exploring choral singing while getting the opportunity to enjoy outdoor activities.

The LSYC currently employs a staff of 8. In addition to the 3 main directors, they employ two accompanists, two paid interns, and a Choir Coordinator. A board consisting of both community members and LSYC parent representatives governs it. Jennifer Campbell has served as the Choir Coordinator and is a leader in the community in vocal music. She currently is a community vocal performer and runs an active voice studio. Since coming on board as the choir coordinator in 2013, Jennifer has expanded her position, which originated as a coordinator of two choruses and overseeing the communication to parents. Today, she coordinates three choirs and has developed an extensive marketing campaign. In addition, she has authored grants that have focused on outreach to our schools in our region. She also has developed and maintains the website

For the past three years, LSYC has been able to offer an Honor Choir. This year’s event was held at Duluth East High School. The honor choir is open to 4-6 graders and students from many regional schools have attended this outstanding event. “We have had to cap the number of students involved in the honor choir because there is not enough room,” Dr. Amundson stated. “We literally had to turn applicants away!” Alongside the honor choir, LSYC hosts a music teacher workshop for the sponsoring teachers. This year’s clinician was André Haywood, artistic director of the St. John’s Boy Choir who presented to the teachers a seminar on the male changing voice. At the end of the day long event the stage was packed with honor choir singers performing for over 800 audience members.

For 25 years, the Lake Superior Youth Chorus has been an outstanding contributor to the choral scene in the Duluth area. Dr. Amundson and his associates have an exciting shared vision for an even stronger impact in the future. When Sarah, Jennifer, and Bret speak of the future, they light up at the thought of bigger and better projects. In the words of Dr. Amundson, “We hope to expand our outreach, increase our membership, and grow in our contributing donors. We have big plans for the future!”

For more information about the Lake Superior Youth Chorus, please visit the website

Here is a recording of LSYC performing A World We Cannot See by Jim Papoulis



Dr. Sarah Cohen, directing
Held on March 4th, Duluth East High School