Bringing the sing to Concordia: On-campus music events help attract prospective students

Dr. Michael Culloton rehearses with the MASLC alumni choir. Photo courtesy of Concordia College

Every semester, more than 200 music majors and 600 non-majors participate in music ensembles at Concordia College. In order to maintain these numbers, Concordia provides many opportunities to show prospective students what it is like to participate in music on campus, including the “Man Up and Sing” men’s choral festival, All-State choirs, bands, and orchestras, and many other events.

By providing opportunities for prospective students to be on campus and interact with current music students and faculty, Concordia increases the chance that those students will come to Concordia. Pete Lien, director of first-year recruitment, discussed the importance of recruiting on an institutional level.

“We [faculty and staff] all recruit and retain students,” Lien said. “It doesn’t take an official role or capacity and it is not in job responsibilities to do so. In order to recruit and retain our students, it takes everyone.”

Lien also cited the power of the “Concordia College music brand” and the efforts of Dr. Michael Culloton, assistant professor of music and conductor of Chapel Choir, Kantorei and Cantabile.

“Because of the brand that Concordia College music has, faculty like Dr. Michael Culloton are frequently asked to do guest directing at high schools or students are brought here to interact with faculty and staff,” Lien said.

Every year, Culloton conducts clinics with high school choirs across the region. He started this year with a choir from Coon Rapids, Minnesota, who visited Concordia this past weekend. He also coordinates and conducts at annual events such as the the day-long “Man Up and Sing” festival, which drew a record 260 men from North Dakota and Minnesota to Concordia College on September 26th, and the high school choral festival, which will draw potentially over 400 high school students to Concordia for two days in January. Between these two events, countless high school clinical experiences, and other opportunities, Culloton is in front of over 1,000 high school students annually.

Culloton is bringing a new choral experience to Concordia this summer. In August 2017, Culloton was named the new conductor of The Minnesota All State Lutheran Choir, an annual two-week choral music camp open to Lutheran Minnesota students in grades 10-12. Participants from around the state audition, and a choir of 45-60 voices is chosen. Members participate in eight days of rehearsal, and spend the last 12 days singing on tour.

Culloton was selected to direct the choir following the retirement of Dr. Thomas Rossin, who led the choir for 26 years. With the change in leadership comes a change in location, from Mt. Carmel Camp near Alexandria, Minnesota, to Concordia’s campus.

“MASLC is now officially a summer program of Concordia College,” Culloton said. “We had to submit a proposal against many other institutions. We wrote the proposal and we won the bid in August.”

The acquisition of MASLC will provide high school students a high-quality choral experience while on Concordia’s campus. Culloton is already the director of three choirs on Concordia’s campus, as well as director of the Fargo-Moorhead Choral Artists and director of the Cathedral Choir at Trinity Lutheran Church. Adding another choir to his schedule may seem like a daunting task; however, he is encouraged by the support of the many other people who will make hosting MASLC possible for Concordia.

“Andrew Steinberg will be the piano player, Dr. Clausen will be a guest clinician and Gordon Moe and Sue Legare will coordinate the tour. It’s a whole team operation. That’s why I felt so comfortable directing another choir,” Culloton said.

Culloton also pointed to the number of MASLC alumni who are currently attending Concordia as a powerful reason for hosting the event. Junior Andrew Nelson, a two-year alum of MASLC, said his experience connected him to Concordia’s community after he graduated high school.

“It was exciting because half of the people who were in the choir were going to Concordia our senior year,” Nelson said. “So it was exciting to get to know people.”

Junior Mariah Norell, another alum of MASLC, cited the community that MASLC provides for participants as a powerful part of the experience. It also made her transition to Concordia a little bit easier.

“It was a comfort,” Norrell said, “I already had some people I knew to build off of for friendships when I came to campus.”

This weekend will bring another choral festival to campus. Minnesota Public Radio is hosting “Bring the Sing,” a community singing event that is part choral workshop, part recording session, on Oct. 14th. The event will take place in the Knutson Campus Center Centrum and will be directed by Joe Osowski, director of choirs at St. Michael-Albertville school district in St. Michael, Minnesota. The MPR event will bring high school, collegiate, and community singers together, and is free for Concordia College students to attend. Norell, who has sung with Osowski in the past, will be participating in the event.

“I’m excited to sing with people of all ages. There are supposed to be 400 or 500 people from the choral community,” Norell said. “We have a lot of music in the Fargo-Moorhead community, so it is nice to see MPR come to Moorhead since we are such an art-intensive city.”

While not directly a Concordia College event, “Bring the Sing” will attract some students to Concordia to experience what the community is like, even if just for a few hours. Lien discussed the importance of this kind of student engagement on campus.

“Anytime we can have multiple events on campus that are directly, or indirectly, involved with Concordia will positively impact the recruitment of students,” Lien said.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *