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St. Olaf Orchestra wins the American Prize

The St. Olaf Orchestra rehearses during their 2019 Norway Tour. Photo by Steven Garcia ’20

The St. Olaf Orchestra, conducted by Steven Amundson, has been named the winner of The American Prize in Orchestra Performance.

This is the second time the orchestra has been honored with the award, having previously won in 2013.

The American Prize was founded in 2009 and is a series of nonprofit national competitions in the performing arts designed to recognize the best performances by ensembles at the professional, college/university, church, community, and secondary school levels based on submitted recordings.

The winners of the 2018-19 competitions were just announced, and Amundson says he’s honored that the St. Olaf Orchestra is among them.

“The students play with amazing passion and they generously share their talents with each other and with all who listen,” says Amundson. “There is a certain ‘joie de vivre’ that is present in this ensemble, and I believe these are the reasons why the sounds of the St. Olaf Orchestra are so tangibly alive, nuanced, and committed,” he adds.

American Prize judges agreed, saying, “In a contestant field that included orchestras at major universities from throughout the country, the St. Olaf Orchestra stood out for technical excellence, spirited and committed music-making.”

The St. Olaf Orchestra, conducted by Steven Amundson, at Carnegie Hall with world-renowned violinist Sarah Chang. Photo by Natan Dvir/Polaris Images

Founded in 1906, the 92-member St. Olaf Orchestra has been heralded as one of the finest collegiate orchestras in the country. In 2019 the ensemble made its Carnegie Hall debut, performing the Sibelius Violin Concerto with renowned violinist Sarah Chang. The St. Olaf Orchestra rounded out a successful year with a tour to Norway in June 2019 with the St. Olaf Choir.

Amundson credits the music faculty at St. Olaf for inspiring the strong commitment among students. “I couldn’t be more proud of my students and all of my gifted colleagues who contribute so much to the orchestra’s success,” he says.

St. Olaf Orchestra Conductor Steven AmundsonI find the most joy in having the opportunity to work with exceptional college students who invest so much energy and who are so earnest and resolute in committing to doing their best work.

The St. Olaf Orchestra continues to build momentum in the new academic year as they prepare to embark on a fall tour of the Midwest this October. The full itinerary and ticket information can be found at St. Olaf Tickets