Outlook

The beauty of music

Thursday, December 6, 2007

St. Cloud State University Department of Music students and faculty members have long been a major force in the Central Minnesota arts community. But this year they have taken their involvement in musical arts to a new level with revitalized interest in performance opportunities.

SCSU Concert Choir

St. Cloud State's Concert Choir, directed by Lee Nelson, performs at the Cathedral of Saint Mary, St. Cloud

"Music students and faculty are committed to enriching the local arts community with more than 85 performances each year," according to Department Chair Terry Vermillion. Participation in campus musical groups offering those performances has increased dramatically this year: For example, Concert Choir membership is up at least 100 percent, the Orchestra’s participation is up 60 percent, the Women’s Choir is up 50 percent and the new Men’s Choir fills a void for male voices that has existed on campus since the 1920s.

"The department also provides increasingly strong leadership within the arts community," Professor Vermillion said. Faculty members in regional performance group leadership positions include:

Lee Nelson, conductor, Great River Chorale;

Marion Judish, concertmaster, St. Cloud
Symphony Orchestra;

Daniel O’Bryant, conductor, Heartland
Symphony Orchestra;

Jane Oxton and Mary Jo Bot, directors,
Cantabile Girls Choirs and Preparatory Program; and

Glen Toumaala, conductor, St. Cloud
Municipal Band.

SCSU Concert Choir

Her Story Her Song performance at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, St. Cloud

Many of the department’s faculty members also provide the backbone for local musical ensembles, Vermillion said, including the St. Cloud Symphony Orchestra, Lake Wobegon Brass Band, Minnesota Center Chorale, Amadeus Chamber Orchestra, Paramount Jazz Orchestra, Heartland Symphony and even the Duluth/Superior Symphony Orchestra.

St. Cloud State music ensembles have won numerous awards and have been invited to perform at national conferences in Mexico, Russia, England, Ohio and Florida. Most recently the Wind Ensemble, conducted by Professor Richard Hansen, performed at the American Band Association International Conference in California. This year the Wind Ensemble, Orchestra and Percussion Ensemble will perform at the Minnesota Music Educators Mid-Winter Conference in February, and the Orchestra, led by O’Bryant, Concert Choir, directed by Nelson, and Cantabile Girls Choir will perform in Germany, France and Switzerland.

SCSU Municipal Band

Glen Toumaala directs the St. Cloud Municipal Band at the Paramount Theatre and Visual Arts Center, St. Cloud

The department, accredited by the National Association of Schools of Music, is committed to growth of the community as well as the growth and development of its students. Central Minnesotans of all ages benefit from student and faculty performances, which include various artist residencies, clinics and workshops. Many of the outreach activities are directed at enriching local school music programs.

"The Department of Music believes that music is a vital human experience, and its goal is to prepare students for careers in music and offer diverse musical experiences to enrich the musical fabric of its university and community," said Vermillion. "Its curriculum emphasizes creativity and vibrant performance opportunities, fostered by highly experienced and accessible faculty."

"Department of Music programs are founded in artistry, skills and scholarship as they prepare students for careers in the music field," said Roland Specht-Jarvis, dean of
St. Cloud State’s College of Fine Arts and Humanities. "These values and goals ensure that music will continue to be performed, created, studied and taught with excellence in our communities."

- Marsha Shoemaker

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