Music Department Special Events 2021

What a Year!

We’re making plans for special musical guests for ’22-’23; here are some of the talented musicians we had on campus during ’21-’22:


David Brunell, Pianist

Guest Recital

David Brunell is an American pianist who has gained international recognition for his virtuosity and poetic temperament at the piano. A native of St. Louis, he studied with Dorothy Dring Smutz, Sidney Foster, Zadel Skolovsky, Balint Vazsonyi, and Adele Marcus.


Halloween Organ Recital – costumes were encouraged for all!

Festival of Bands

The St. Olaf Festival of Bands always promises to be a stimulating day for students and teachers alike. Culminating an exciting and intense day of rehearsals will be performances by the Festival Band, the St. Olaf Band, and the Norseman Band. The Festival of Bands enjoys a long, successful history of bringing together outstanding high school musicians to prepare and share a program with nationally known artists.

Danilo Pérez

As a solo artist and as a collaborator with jazz giants from Dizzy Gillespie to Wayne Shorter, for over three decades Grammy® Award Winning Panamanian Pianist-Composer Danilo Pérez has been lauded as one of the most creative forces in contemporary music. With Jazz as the anchoring foundation, Pérez’s Global Jazz music is a blend of Panamanian roots, Latin American folk music, West African rhythms, European impressionism – promoting music as a borderless and multidimensional bridge between all people.

While on campus, Mr. Pérez coached the St. Olaf jazz ensembles, and concluded his visit with a concert with Jazz I in the Pause.

Mark Urness, jazz bassist

Guest Recital

Mark Urness is a versatile bassist, composer, and associate professor of music at Lawrence University. His diverse performance experience encompasses orchestral, chamber, solo, jazz playing. He was awarded first prize in the International Society of Bassists Jazz Competition.  His unaccompanied jazz CD, Foreground, was released in 2009. Bass World magazine described his playing as “completely in command of the instrument and the tunes, rife with good ideas, melodic instinct, and groove, not to mention killer intonation on the double stops and chords.”  Recent performances include chamber music broadcasts on Wisconsin Public Radio, and jazz performances with Bill Carrothers, Danilo Perez, Peter Erskine, and Joe Locke.

Katherine Rohrer, Soprano

Guest Recital
assisted by April Kim, piano
with Jenna McBride-Harris, horn, and Karl Wiederwohl, bass trombone

Mezzo-soprano Katherine Rohrer has been impressing audiences internationally with her warm, expressive tone, vocal agility, and dramatic, emotionally gripping performances.  Balancing the rigors of traditional and mainstream repertoire with some of today’s most celebrated composers, Katherine Rohrer garnered critical acclaim in recent performances as Nicklausse/Muse in Les Contes d’Hoffmann with Opera Colorado and Florida Grand Opera, Marguerite in La Damnation de Faust with Oper Frankfurt, the Malaysian Philharmonia, and the Saint Louis Symphony, the role of Lady Macbeth in Bloch’s rarely-heard Macbeth with London’s University College Opera, and her first Pilgrim in Saariaho’s L’Amour de Loin with Vlaamse Opera.

Catalyst Quartet

Guest Recital

The Catalyst Quartet, known for “perfect ensemble unity” and “unequaled class of execution” (Lincoln Journal Star),  has toured widely throughout the United States and abroad, including sold-out performances at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C., at Chicago’s Harris Theater, Miami’s New World Center, and Stern Auditorium/Perelman Stage at Carnegie Hall in New York. The quartet has been guest soloists with the Cincinnati Symphony, New Haven Symphony, St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, and the Orquesta Filarmónica de Bogotá, and has served as principal players and featured ensemble with the Sphinx Organization’s featured ensemble, the Sphinx Virtuosi, on six national tours. They have been invited to perform at important music festivals such as Mainly Mozart in San Diego, the Great Lakes Chamber Music Festival, Sitka Music Festival, Juneau Jazz and Classics, Strings Music Festival, and the Grand Canyon Music Festival, where they appear annually. The Catalyst Quartet was ensemble-in-residence at the Vail Dance Festival in 2016. In 2014, they opened the Festival del Sole in Napa, California with Joshua Bell and participated in England’s Aldeburgh Music Foundation String Quartet Residency with two performances in Jubilee Hall.

Artaria String Quartet

Guest Recital

Described as an “exceptional ensemble with impressive confidence in its interpretations” and “Minnesota’s foremost teaching and performing string quartet”, the Artaria String Quartet recently celebrated its 30 year of chamber music concerts. Winners of the 2004 McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians, and named 2013-14 Minnesota Public Radio Artists-in-Residence, Artaria was also featured on Twin Cities Public Television as part of the “Minnesota Originals” series.

Agatha Backer Grøndahl: The Story of an Artist

Guest Recital

Sara Aimée Smiseth, Piano

Norwegian pianist Sara Smiseth performs Grøndahl’s music whilst conveying the story of her life, including her close friendship with Nina and Edvard Grieg and her struggle to pursue a career as a pianist and composer against all odds.  Agathe Backer Grøndahl, born in Norway in 1847, was one of the brightest stars of Norwegian classical music’s golden age. She was a student of Franz Liszt, she performed in London and Paris with great success, and she was proclaimed one of the greatest pianists of the century by writer George Bernard Shaw. She composed more than 400 works for piano, voice, and orchestra.

Micah Wilkinson '06, trumpet

Guest Recital

As a featured soloist, Micah Wilkinson, St. Olaf Class of 2006, has been noted for his “virtue of taming the brilliance he employs so well in many massive orchestrations to that gentle, liquid line.” In the 2020-2021 season, he is scheduled to make his Pittsburgh Symphony concerto debut, performing Haydn’s Trumpet Concerto, conducted by Manfred Honeck. As a chamber musician, he has been recognized for his “complete confidence and refreshing catalogue of contrasting colors” and has been frequently featured on NPR’s Performance Today.

Eri Isomura '11 and April Kim '11

Faculty Recital

Mallet Percussion and Piano

Eri Isomura is a freelance performer and instructor of piano, percussion, and marimba from St. Paul, Minnesota. She frequently performs in orchestras, recitals, choirs, musicals, and recording projects around the Twin Cities. In 2021 she released the album “Musical Moments for Cello and Marimba” with her father Sachiya Isomura, a former cellist in the Minnesota Orchestra. Eri is a founding member of 10th Wave Chamber Collective, a Twin Cities-based ensemble featuring classical music of the 20th and 21st centuries, which is serving as MPR Class Notes Artists for 2021-22. She is also an Ensemble Artist of the Heartland Marimba Ensemble.

Dr. April Ryun Kim has given numerous performances as a soloist, collaborative pianist, and chamber musician. She has been featured as a soloist in the MasterWorks Festival Honors Recital. She has won winning prizes from competitions including the Thursday Musical and Schubert Club Competitions. As an advocate for new music, Dr. Kim has performed in the Musica Nova ensembles at the University of Missouri – Kansas City, working with composers including Zhou Long and Tania León, the St. Olaf Faculty Chamber Ensemble, and is a regular performer in 10th Wave, a new music chamber ensemble based in the Twin Cities. As part of her lecture recital, she commissioned and gave the world premiere of “가위 (Scissors): Fantasia Toccata,” written by composer Jiyoun Chung.

To Repair

Collaboration with Guest Artist

University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club – Mark Stover ’01, Conductor
Viking Chorus – Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, Conductor
St. Olaf Choir – Anton Armstrong ’78, Conductor

To Repair focuses on confronting racial inequity and inspiring hope for a better America, incorporating elements of traditional African American spirituals and text from notable Black authors. The poignant piece was commissioned by Stover for the University of Michigan Men’s Glee Club and received its world premiere on April 7, 2022, at Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall in New York City. In advance of the performance, composer Tesfa Wondemagegnehu held a four-day residency with the Michigan Men’s Glee Club where they not only rehearsed the piece, but engaged in meaningful conversations on the necessary steps we need to take toward repairing our communities.

Wondemagegnehu’s choral composition is informed by his To Repair Project, a 60-day journey that he made across the eastern half of the United States in the summer of 2021 to collect narratives from Black community members, activists, artists, clergy, and politicians whose work focuses on repairing the Black community. These conversations and experiences formed the basis of his choral piece.

In accordance with the CDC’s recent guidance, face coverings are required for all indoor events on campus. Out of an abundance of caution, these safety measures apply to all on-campus concert guests and audience members. By attending a concert at St. Olaf College, you voluntarily assume all risks related to exposure to COVID-19. If you are not masked upon arrival, you will not be allowed entrance to the concert.  For updates to St. Olaf policies related to guests on campus, please check our website at

For a complete list of St. Olaf Music events,
please click here.