Theory and Composition/History and Literature

Amundson151Steven Amundson
Professor of Music — Theory and Conducting
Conductor of the St. Olaf Orchestra

Steven Amundson joined the music faculty at St. Olaf College in the fall of 1981. Under Amundson’s direction, the St. Olaf Orchestra has become recognized as one the finest undergraduate orchestras in the United States. In addition to his duties as conductor of the St. Olaf Orchestra, he teaches courses in conducting, aural skills, and music theory.

Prior to his appointment at St. Olaf, Amundson held conducting posts at the University of Virginia and with the Tacoma Youth Symphony in Washington. He is the founding conductor of the Metropolitan Symphony in Minnesota and served as Music Director and Conductor of the Bloomington Symphony from 1984-1997. He has been both a resident conductor and guest conductor for the well-known Interlochen National Arts Camp and has served as guest conductor for many All-State Orchestra festivals throughout the United States. Amundson has guest conducted professional ensembles in Minnesota including the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, the Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, the Fargo/Moorhead Symphony, and the renowned St. Paul Chamber Orchestra.

A commissioned composer and arranger, Amundson is published by Lauren Keiser Music and the Neil A. Kjos Music Co. Tempo Music Resource distributes his self-published works. His orchestral compositions have received hundreds of performances by professional orchestras including the Atlanta, Cincinnati, Chicago, Dallas, Detroit, Oregon, Phoenix, San Diego, and Utah Symphonies in the United States, and internationally with orchestras including the Toronto Symphony in Canada and BBC Concert Orchestra in the United Kingdom.

Amundson did his studies in orchestral conducting at Luther College, Northwestern University, the University of Virginia, the Aspen Music School in Colorado, and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. He has enjoyed the tutelage of notable conductors including Maurice Abravanel, Milan Horvat, and Erich Leinsdorf.

In the 1980 International Conducting Competition hosted by the Mozarteum and Austrian National Radio, Amundson placed first, earning the Hans Haring Prize. In 1992 the Minnesota Music Education Association named him “Minnesota Orchestra Educator of the Year.” In the fall of 1995 Amundson received the Carlo A. Sperati Award from Luther College in recognition of his meritorious achievement in the field of music.

david_castroDavid Castro
Assistant Professor of Music — Theory
David Castro received a B.Mus. in Music Education from Pacific Union College, a M.M. in Music Theory from the University of Arizona, and a Ph.D. in Music Theory from the University of Oregon. He currently teaches courses in theory, aural skills, counterpoint, and advanced analysis. Dr. Castro’s research interests include the music of Dmitri Shostakovich and Arvo Pärt, and the pedagogy of music theory. His most recent publication appears in the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy and he has presented papers at various conferences, both in the US and in the UK. Castro is a member of both the Website Editorial Board for the Journal of Music Theory Pedagogy and the Society for Music Theory’s Committee on Diversity

SONY DSCGerald Hoekstra
Professor of Music — History and Literature
Conductor of Collegium Musicum and Early Music Singers
Hoekstra teaches music history and directs the St. Olaf early music ensembles, the Collegium Musicum and Early Music Singers. His area of specialization is music of the Renaissance, particularly the French and Flemish chanson. He has published articles in Early Music, Musica Disciplina, Speculum, and The Choral Journal, and he has published critical editions of music of Hubert Waelrant, André Pevernage, and others, most recently an edition of the Cantiones sacrae of Pevernage in three volumes of the series Recent Researches in the Music of the Renaissance. He is a member of the American Musicological Society, the Viola da Gamba Society of America, Sixteenth Century Studies Society, and Early Music America.  In 2002 EMA presented him with Thomas Binkley Award, a national collegium directors award. He has served on the board of Early Music America and chaired the EMA Committee for Early Music in Higher Education from 2001-2009. Hoekstra earned his B.A. from Calvin College and master’s and doctoral degrees in music history from The Ohio State University under a University Fellowship.

Mahrbw2011webTimothy Mahr
Professor of Music — Composition and Conducting
Conductor of the St. Olaf Band
Timothy Mahr holds a B.M. degree in composition and a B.A. degree in music education from St. Olaf College and a master’s degree in trombone performance and a D.M.A. in instrumental conducting from the University of Iowa. An internationally acclaimed composer, Dr. Mahr received the 1991 Ostwald Award in the ABA Band Composition Contest for his composition The Soaring Hawk. He was elected to the American Bandmasters Association in 1993. Formerly director of bands at the University of Minnesota-Duluth and founding conductor of the Twin Ports Wind Ensemble, Dr. Mahr is the principal conductor of the Minnesota Symphonic Winds and is active as a clinician and guest conductor nationally and internationally. Recent commissions have come from the United States Air Force Band, the Music Educators National Conference, and the American Bandmasters Association. Twenty-five of his works have been published, with many released on compact disc recordings and included on state contest lists. Dr. Mahr is a past-president of the North Central Division of the College Band Directors National Association (1999-2001), has served on the Board of Directors of the National Band Association (1996-98) and was a founding board member of the Minnesota Band Directors Association.

merrittweb11Justin Merritt
Associate Professor of Music — Theory and Composition
Composer Justin Merritt (bn. 1975) was the youngest-ever winner of the ASCAP Foundation/Rudolph Nissim award in 2001 for Janus Mask for Orchestra.  He is the winner of many other awards including the 2011 McKnight Fellowship, the 2008 Copland Award, the 2008 Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Award for River of Blood, the 2006 Polyphonos Prize for Hay Días, the 2006 VocalEssence Essentially Chorale Competition for Adoro Te Devote, the 2000 Left Coast Chamber Ensemble Composition Competition Award for The Day Florestan Murdered Magister Raro, and the 2001 Kuttner String Quartet Competition for Ravening. His music has been heard across North America, Europe, and Asia. Hear more music by Justin Merritt at

MoyaR12Reinaldo Moya
Instructor in Music — Music Theory
Reinaldo Moya is a Venezuelan American composer whose music is often inspired by literature. Through his explorations of the relationship between music and literary texts, Moya finds an outlet for his own personal sense of drama and lyricism.He received a Masters degree from The Juilliard School, where he is currently a C.V. Starr Doctoral Fellow. His teachers at Juilliard included Samuel Adler and Robert Beaser. In 2006, he graduated summa cum laude from West Virginia University, where he studied with John Beall.Mr. Moya is the recipient of Meet the Composer’s 2011 Van Lier Fellowship, as well as multiple Morton Gould Young Composer Awards from ASCAP. In 2011, he was awarded the Aaron Copland Award which led to a residency in Aaron Copland’s historic New York home. In 2007, Mr. Moya’s String Quartet was premiered by the Attacca Quartet at the Museum of Modern Art. His orchestral work Aurora Australis was awarded the Walter Friedman Memorial Prize for Orchestral Composition in 2008, and was premiered by the Juilliard Orchestra under Jeffrey Milarsky.

He has received commissions from Trio 180 (Resident ensemble at the University of the Pacific) and the New York Choreographic Institute. His opera Generalissimo, based on the life of a fictional Latin American dictator, is currently under development in conjunction with playwright Jessica Foster. Mr. Moya’s music is published by the American Composers Alliance.

CRamirezWebCatherine Ramirez
Assistant Professor of Music — Flute and Theory

Catherine Ramirez earned flute performance degrees at Occidental College (BA), Boccherini Music Institute in Italy (Honors Diploma), Queens College (MA), Yale University School of Music (MM), and Rice University (DMA).  Her teachers include Melissa Colgin-Abeln, Gary Woodward, Marzio Conti, Tara Helen O’Connor, Ransom Wilson and Leone Buyse.

Dr. Ramirez won Second Prize in the Winds Division of the  2013 Città di Padova International Music Competitions and two Third Prizes (Winds and Virtuosity Divisions) at the same competition in 2012 in Italy (the only American to be awarded). She has performed as a solo, chamber and orchestral musician in Italy, France, Austria, Switzerland, Canada, Mexico, Colombia, China, and in the United States.  Dr. Ramirez made her New York recital debut in 2000, and has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician at the Teatro del Giglio in Italy, Salt Lake City’s Temple Square, Merkin Concert Hall, Symphony Space and Carnegie’s Weill Recital Hall in New York. Garnering audience acclaim at the National Flute Association (NFA) Convention in North Carolina (2011), she was recently showcased at the 2012 NFA Convention in Las Vegas, and performed at the 2013 New Orleans Convention.  Her playing has been broadcast live on Chicago’s classical radio station WFMT, Rice University’s KTRU and Houston’s KUHF “Front Row” Program.

She has been a concerto soloist in the United States, Italy and China.  She performed on Bellini’s La Sonnambula Variations with L’Offerta Musicale Chamber Orchestra of Venice.  Symphonic performances include the El Paso Opera and El Paso Symphony Orchestras, the Vermont Mozart Festival Orchestra, and the Rice University Shepherd School Orchestras led by Larry Rachleff.  Pperformances as principal flutist include Mozart’s Don Giovanni with conductor Richard Bado, Lalo Schifrin’s Tangos Concertantes with violinist Cho-Liang Lin, and Strauss’ Four Last Songs with soprano Renée Fleming.

Dr. Ramirez is a recent winner of the Sallie Shepherd Perkins Prize for Best Achievement from Rice University(2010).  As the winner of grants from the Yvar Mikhashoff Trust, the Ernst Krenek Society, and philanthropist Andreas Waldburg-Wolfegg, she recorded her debut recital CD Transformation, and commissioned and premiered a new flute and piano work entitled Into Utter Forever (2006) by University of Colorado (Boulder) composer Daniel Kellogg.

Dr. Ramirez served as a music panelist for the 2010 Hispanic Career and Education Day held at the George Brown Convention Center in Houston.  Her guest masterclass appearances include Brigham Young University (BYU), University of Utah, New Mexico State University, repeat engagements at the University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP), Bowling Green State University, and the University of Central Florida.  She has recently taught masterclasses internationally at the Liceo Musicale Statale di Lucca (Italy), the Middle School of the Shanghai Conservatory (China), the Universidad de Antioquia (Medellin, Colombia), and the Universidad Nacional de Colombia – Conservatorio de Musica (Bogota, Colombia).

CathyRodland11bwCatherine Rodland
Artist in Residence — Theory and Organ
Catherine Rodland, whose playing has been described as “transcendent” (The American Organist), is Artist in Residence at St. Olaf College. She graduated cum laude with departmental distinction in organ performance from St. Olaf in 1987.  She received both the MM and DMA from the Eastman School of Music in Rochester, NY where she was a student of Russell Saunders.  At Eastman, Catherine received the prestigious Performer’s Certificate and the Ann Anway Award for excellence in organ performance. She is a prizewinner in several competitions including the 1994 and 1998 American Guild of Organists Young Artists Competition, the 1994 Calgary International Organ Competition, and the 1988 International Organ Competition at the University of Michigan for which she received first prize.  She concertizes extensively throughout the United States and Canada.

At St. Olaf Catherine teaches a full studio of organ students as well as music theory and ear training classes.  She performs regularly at St. Olaf, in 2007  dedicating the new Holtkamp organ in Boe Memorial Chapel, and performing as a featured soloist with the St. Olaf Orchestra and the St. Olaf Band.  These performances were released as CDs through St. Olaf Records.  In 2010 Catherine released two CDs:  “Dedication”, and “American Weavings”, the latter recorded in Boe Chapel at St. Olaf College with violist and duo partner Carol Rodland. The Rodland Duo is managed by Concert Artists Cooperative.