Harry R. and Thora H. Tosdal Professor of Music — Voice and Conducting
Conductor of the St. Olaf Choir
Anton Armstrong is the Harry R. and Thora H. Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College and Conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, a position he assumed in 1990. He came to this position following ten years in Grand Rapids, Michigan where he served on the faculty of Calvin College and conducted the Campus Choir, the Calvin College Alumni Choir and the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus. A graduate of St. Olaf College, Anton Armstrong earned a Master of Music degree at the University of Illinois and the Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Michigan State University. He holds membership in several professional societies including the American Choral Directors Association, Choristers Guild, Chorus America, and the International Federation for Choral Music. He also serves as editor of a multicultural choral series for Earthsongs Publications and co-editor of the revised St. Olaf Choral Series for Augsburg Fortress Publishers. Dr. Armstrong is widely recognized for his work in the area of youth and children’s choral music. He served for over twenty years on the summer faculty of the American Boychoir School, Princeton, New Jersey and held the position of Conductor of the St. Cecilia Youth Chorale, a 75 voice treble chorus based in Grand Rapids, from 1981-1990. He is the founding conductor of the Troubadours, 30-voice boys’ ensemble of the Northfield Youth Choirs since 1991. He currently serves as a member of the Board of Trustees of the American Boychoir School, the Board of Chorus America and the Board of Choristers Guild. In June 1998, he began his tenure as founding conductor of the Oregon Bach Festival Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy.A nton Armstrong has conducted the St. Olaf Choir in critically acclaimed solo concert performances at the 59th National Conference of the Music Educators National Conference in April 2004, the Sixth World Symposium on Choral Music in August 2002, and at the 1999 National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Chicago, Illinois. In February 2005, The St. Olaf Choir shared the stage with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir in presenting the finale concert for the national conference of the American Choral Directors Association at the new Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, California.
Associate Professor of Music — Voice, Choral Literature and Choral Conducting
Conductor of Chapel Choir and Viking Chorus
Christopher Aspaas received his Ph.D. in Choral Music Education at The Florida State University in Tallahassee, his M.M. in Choral Conducting from Michigan State University in East Lansing, his B.M. in Voice Performance from St. Olaf. Christopher has served on the faculties of Central Washington University in Ellensburg, Washington and Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts.At St. Olaf, Aspaas conducts the Viking Chorus, a 90-voice ensemble of first-year student men, and also leads the Saint Olaf Chapel Choir, a 100-voice ensemble specializing in the performance of oratorio and larger multi-movement works. In 2009, Aspaas led the Chapel Choir and St. Olaf Orchestra in a performance of Felix Mendelssohn’s monumental oratorio, Elijah, and recently conducted the Brahms Requiem in April 2011. In addition to conducting, he leads coursework in choral literature, choral conducting, and private applied voice. In 2008, Aspaas was appointed as the Music Director and Conductor for Magnum Chorum, a Twin Cities choral ensemble who is “Transforming Audiences through Artistry and Spirit.”His travels as a guest conductor, clinician, and adjudicator have taken Christopher to Alaska, Florida, Illinois, Masschusetts, Minnesota, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, South Carolina, South Dakota, Virginia, Washington, Wisconsin and twice to the Sultanate of Oman. He has conducted All-State Choruses in Kentucky, South Dakota, Virginia and Wisconsin, and recently led the 2009 Anacrusis Boys’ Honor Choir in Minnesota.Aspaas is also active as a tenor soloist, performing Bach cantatas with Helmuth Rilling and the Oregon Bach Festival Orchestra, the Evangelist roles in the John and Matthew Passions of Bach with the Bach Collegium of Fort Wayne, Ind., and other solo roles with the Tallahassee Symphony Orchestra, the Indianapolis Chamber Orchestra, the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra and the St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic in Russia. Most recently, Aspaas traveled to San Luis Obispo, California for a performance of Franz Josef Haydn’s Theresienmesse and Johann Michael Haydn’s Requiem with the Cuesta Master Chorale and Orchestra.
Associate Professor of Music —Voice
Margaret Eaves-Smith, Associate Professor of Voice, B.M., M.M. in Vocal Performance, Cleveland Institute of Music; student of George Vassos. Soprano, Margaret Eaves-Smith, a native of Havre, Montana, was first recognized as a rising talent early in her career when she received the Artist Award from the National Association of Teachers of Singing in 1973. She has achieved both national and international awards in the Regional Metropolitan Opera, S-Hertogenbosch, and Geneva vocal competitions as well. She has sung with the L’Orchestra de la Suisse Romande and the Minnesota Orchestra, and under the direction of James Levine, Louis Lane, Margaret Hillis and John Rutter. Her coaches have included George London, Elly Ameling, Gerard Souzay, Dalton Baldwin, and James King both in the United States and Europe. Additional study includes master classes in Graz, Austria and Aldeburgh, England. Before her tenure at St. Olaf, she taught on the faculty of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. With many years experience as a recitalist, adjudicator and with special interest in the performance of lieder, chanson, and oratorio, Margaret has served as a dedicated teacher to St. Olaf students since 1979. In May of 2004, Ms. Eaves-Smith was the recipient of an alumni achievement award for excellence in teaching from the Cleveland Institute of Music.
Assistant Professor of Music — Voice, Vocal Pedagogy and Solo Vocal Literature
With a voice the Boston Globe called “extraordinary in range, tonal quality, musicianship, and dramatic effect, “soprano Tracey Engleman has gained a reputation for excellence in opera, recital, and concert. Ms. Engleman has performed operatic roles with the Minnesota Opera, Los Angeles Philharmonic, and Skylark Opera, and performed as soloist with the Minnesota Choral Union, the Chicago Chamber Musicians, the Milwaukee Bel Canto Chorus, the Boston Symphony Orchestra, Valley Chamber Chorale, the Rochester Aria Group and numerous other regional orchestras. Ms. Engleman has also won numerous awards including the Austin Lyric Opera Young Artist Competition in Austin, Texas, the Milwaukee Bel Canto Chorus Regional Artist Competition, the Minnesota NATS Artist Award, and was a regional finalist in the 2002-2003 Metropolitan Opera Auditions. Ms. Engleman performed with the St. Olaf Orchestra at Alice Tulley Hall and has performed Britten’s War Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 and Elijah and Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard with the Chapel Choir and the St. Olaf Orchestra. Ms. Engleman spent two summers as a Vocal Fellow at the prestigious Tanglewood Music Center where she coached with Phyllis Curtin, Dawn Upshaw, Martin Katz, Ken Griffiths, and Lucy Shelton and has performed the music of several of the worlds most prominent contemporary composers. Ms. Engleman earned a B.M. degree in both vocal performance and K-12 vocal music education from St. Olaf College and M.M. and D.M.A. degrees from the University of Minnesota.
Associate Professor of Music — Voice
Feldt received a B.A. from Luther College, and M.A. in vocal music and pedagogy from the University of Iowa, and a D.M.A. in vocal performance from the University of Minnesota. Her additional study has been with Kerstin Meyer, Rita Streich, and Rudolf Knoll of the Mozarteum, Salzburg, Austria. Feldt has won numerous awards, including first place in the 1992 and 1995 Minnesota District NATS Artist Award Voice Competition, first place in the 1990 Minnesota – Western Wisconsin District Metropolitan Opera auditions, first place in the 1989 Opera/Lied Competition from the city of Salzburg Cultural Foundation, and first place in the 1989 Operetta Competition in Salzburg, Austria. Special interests lie in the performance of lieder, chanson, and opera.
Artist in Residence — Voice
Conductor of the Manitou Singers
Johnson received a B.M. in vocal performance from St. Cloud State University and an M.M. in voice performance from the University of Michigan. She is director of the Manitou Singers. Formerly on the voice faculty at the University of Minnesota and Gustavus Adolphus College and a former member and associate conductor of the Dale Warland Singers and music director of theDale Warland Symphonic Chorus, she prepared symphonic choruses for Neemi Jarvi, Sir Neville Mariner, David Zinman, Stanislaw Skrowaczewsky, Gerard Swartz, Edo de Waart, and Leonard Slatkin. Currently, Johnson is associate conductor and director of special events for Philip Brunelle’s Plymouth Music Series of Minnesota and is active as a clinician specializing in women’s literature.
Instructor in Music — Voice
Dale Kruse, tenor, is currently a doctor of musical arts (voice performance) student at the University of Minnesota. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Luther College and a master of music degree from Drake University. Previously, he taught choral music at Armstrong High School and Wayzata High School and served on the voice faculty of Gustavus Adolphus College. In 2011, he joined the faculty of Augsburg College to direct the Cedar Singers men’s choir. Since 2004, he has been the music director for the Minnesota Opera’s Project Opera education program, and for its summer camp and the chorus master for the Opera’s children’s chorus. He is currently serving as president of the Minnesota NATS chapter. A frequent performer in the Twin Cities, he has sung with the Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Orchestra, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Prairie Home Companion, and Lyra Concert among others. With students, he has traveled twice to England, Scotland (American High School Theatre Festival) and Wales with music theater and opera productions.
Instructor in Music — Voice
Harriet McCleary, soprano, has performed recitals, in operas and oratorios in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, Minnesota, Nebraska, Iowa, Texas and Graz, Austria. Dr. McCleary takes great inspiration from introducing new music to audiences. In 1997 she premiered the first four songs of a set entitled “Chanting to Paradise” by Libby Larsen. In 1999 she premiered a set of songs, “Still Life,” by Monte Mason. Formerly on voice faculties at University of Nebraska at Omaha and Westminster Choir College, she teaches on the voice faculty at St. Olaf College and privately at her home studio. Her degrees include B.M.E. and B.M. in Church Music, Texas Christian University; M.M. in Voice, Choral Conducting and Church Music, Westminster Choir College; and D.M.A. in Voice Performance, University of Minnesota. She currently conducts the Cathedral Choristers and sings with the St. Mark’s Episcopal Cathedral Choir, Minneapolis.
Professor of Music — Voice and Lyric Theater
James McKeel, baritone, has sung over 70 roles with opera companies and festivals throughout the United States as well as England’s Aldeburgh Festival, Minnesota Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Baltimore Opera, Muny Opera, Opera Theatre of St. Louis, Guthrie Theatre, Plymouth Music Series, Dale Warland Singers, Kennedy Center, New Works Ensemble, Midwest Opera Theatre, Dale Warland Singers, and the Minnesota & St. Paul Chamber Orchestras. Performances range from The Magic Flute & The Marriage of Figaro to La Boheme & Carmen to premieres ofCasanova’s Homecoming, The Juniper Tree, and the award-winning A Death in the Family. Other performances include Lady in the Dark, Sweeney Todd, and TheThreepenny Opera, the critically-acclaimed world-premiere of The Three Hermits, the award-winning Paul Bunyan with England’s Aldeburgh Festival, and As You Like It at the Guthrie Theatre with Val Kilmer and Patti Lapone. His recordings include The Mother of Us All, Voices from Lost Realms, PaulBunyan, The Three Hermits,Visions, and The Hero of Hamblett. Mr. McKeel’s artistic collaborators have included Philip Glass, David Hockney, Dominick Argento, Raymond Leppard, Wesley Balk, Philip Brunelle, Joan La Barbara, Morton Sobotnick, Stephen Paulus, William Mayer, and Salvatore Murdocca.An avid composer, Mr. McKeel has written over 60 operas, operettas, musicals, choral works, arts songs, and song cycles which have received commissions, grants, and premieres from the Kennedy Center, Minnesota Opera, Minnesota Composers Forum, Jerome & Blandin Foundations, Midwest Opera Theatre, Southern Theatre, Twin Cities Opera Guild, and Bel Canto Voices, among others. His premiered works include the Minnesota Opera children’s opera, Jargonauts Ahoy,which toured for two years, played to over 20,000 students, and was featured in a PBS special on reading, In Reference to a Child, a choral song cycle commissioned by the Bel Canto Voices, featured in the Kennedy Center’s “Year of the Child” concert, and toured throughout the South Pacific, and Reveille to Requiem, a Civil War opera funded by the Blandin Foundation , SEMAC, and St. Olaf College. His published works include the choral work ChristmasDawning (Shawnee Press) and Sherlock Holmes: Solitary Insect (Blackbird Books, Australia).Recent activities include A Salute to Rodgers and Hammerstein with Henry Charles Smith, the composition of two independent New York film scores Dan Ruff and Plague,stage direction of Christopher Columbus, La Finta Giardiniera, L’enfant et les Sortileges, and a grant from the Twin Cities Opera Guild to produce a touring version of his children’s opera The Hero of Hamblett written with critically-acclaimed New York author/illustrator Salvatore Murdocca. In 2007 he reprised his role as the Bishop in The Three Hermits with St. John’s University and premiered his jazz-age opera Love Sonnets of a Hoodlum with St. Olaf College. In 2008-09 he will play the role of Galileo directed by Gary Gisselman and will oversee the second production of Love Sonnets of a Hoodlum with St. John’s University.Mr. McKeel co-directs the Lyric Theatre Season and teaches Opera Workshop, Acting for the Lyric Stage, and Voice.
|Robert C. Smith
Associate Professor of Music — Voice and Solo Vocal Liturature
Robert C. Smith, baritone, Associate Professor of Music. B.M., St. Olaf, M.M., Yale University, D.M.A., University of Texas. Major teachers have included Phyllis Curtin, Donald Hoiness, Barbara Honn, Mary Kaye Schmidt, and Darlene Wiley with additional study in Milan, Italy with Rita Patané.
Prior to his current position at St. Olaf, Dr. Smith served on the faculties of the University of New Mexico, the Berkshire Choral Festival and the University of Vermont.Smith has been featured at the Aspen Festival, Madeira Bach Festival (Portugal), Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Covent Garden Festival (London), Prague Spring Festival (Czech Republic), Foire Saint Germain (Paris), and Festival Van Vlaanderen (Belgium). Dr. Smith has been a featured soloist with VocalEssence, the Santa Fe Desert Chorale, Santa Fe Symphony, Música Antigua de Albuquerque, and the Madeira Bach Festival in Portugal. Recent performances have included appearances at the Library of Congress, the 1999 and 2002 World Symposia on Choral Music, and radio broadcasts on Belgium Radio, Radio France, NPR, and the BBC.In addition to his teaching responsibilities, Dr. Smith annually sings more than 60 concerts, appearing in the last few months under British conductors Simon Carrington and Jonathon Willcocks, John Kennedy (Spoleto Festival USA), and Donald Nally (Lyric Opera of Chicago), among others.
Instructor in Music — Voice
Karen Wilkerson, Instructor in Music, is active as a professional singer, conductor, and teacher. She currently sings with the Ensemble Singers of VocalEssence, who recently toured and recorded in England, including a concert with the BBC singers. Wilkerson is in her 16th year as director of adult choirs at Saint Michael’s Lutheran Church, Roseville, Minnesota. She sang and recorded for four years in the Dale Warland Singers, and has performed in over 14 productions with the Minnesota Opera. Wilkerson is an active recitalist and oratorio soloist, most recently performing in Minneapolis, Virginia and California. She has studied voice with Richard Johnson, of Bryn Mawr, Pennsylvania, Mary Kay Schmidt of Minneapolis, Rita Patane, Milan, Italy, and Janet Bookspan of NewYork City. She has served on the faculty of Lutheran Summer Music for over 12 years. She has held faculty positions at Northwestern College and Gustavus Adolphus College. Wilkerson holds degrees in Music from California State University, Northridge, and Westminster Choir College, Princeton New Jersey.