Founded by Oscar Overby as the St. Olaf Church Choir in 1925, the St. Olaf Chapel Choir began as one of two mixed choruses at St. Olaf College following the dissolution of the Choral Union. The Choir led worship weekly at one of the two Sunday services at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Northfield, and participated in many of the on-campus music festivals held every year in addition to concerts of choral/orchestral masterworks. Sigurd Fredrickson, Miles Johnson, Kenneth Jennings, Robert Scholz, Christopher Aspaas, and Mark Stover all led the ensemble before the arrival of its current conductor, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu.
Specializing in the performance of oratorio and larger works, the St. Olaf Chapel Choir frequently collaborates with the St. Olaf Orchestra as well as instrumentalists and soloists from the St. Olaf community. Recent repertoire includes the Fauré Requiem, Louis Vierne’s Messe Sollenelle, W. A. Mozart’s Te Deum, Samuel Barber’s Prayers of Kierkegaard, Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms, the Howells Requiem, Mendelssohn’s Psalm 42 and the grand oratorio, Elijah, Johannes Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, and Benjamin Britten’s War Requiem.
Each fall, the Chapel Choir leads a service of Vespers, sometimes in collaboration with high school and community ensembles like the Northfield Youth Choirs Chorale and Troubadours, Elements of Sound from Shattuck-St. Mary’s, and the Northfield High School Concert Choir. The St. Olaf Chapel Choir performs on the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival, and has been broadcast nationally in movie theaters, television and radio. Additionally, the Chapel Choir leads worship for the St. Olaf Student Congregation several Sundays per semester.