St. Olaf Choir
The St. Olaf Choir, with 75 mixed voices, is the premier a cappella choir in the United States. For over a century, the choir has set a standard of choral excellence and remained at the forefront of choral artistry. Conducted since 1990 by Anton Armstrong, the St. Olaf Choir continues to develop the tradition that originated with its founder, F. Melius Christiansen.
Since its founding in 1912, the St. Olaf Choir has set a standard in the choral art, serving as a model for choirs of all levels. The ensemble’s annual tour brings its artistry and message to thousands of people across the nation and around the world. The St. Olaf Choir has taken 14 international tours and performed for capacity audiences in the major concert halls of Norway, France, South Korea, New Zealand, Australia, New York City, Washington, D.C., Chicago, Los Angeles, Dallas, and the Twin Cities.
In addition to being an artistic force, the St. Olaf Choir has a full calendar of events and a growing library of recordings. The choir’s mission is to provide music of the highest quality that lifts people’s hearts and spirits, incorporating a diversity of voices and cultural traditions into the chorus of the Christian faith. Many people experience this message through the annual St. Olaf Christmas Festival. But perhaps nowhere is the essence more clearly proclaimed than in the work that has become the choir’s signature piece, Beautiful Savior.
Anton Armstrong, conductor
Anton Armstrong, Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College, became the fourth conductor of the St. Olaf Choir in 1990 after ten years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he had served on the faculty of Calvin College and led the Calvin College Alumni Choir, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus, and the St. Cecilia Youth Chorale.
Dr. Armstrong is a graduate of St. Olaf College and earned advanced degrees at the University of Illinois and Michigan State University. He is editor of a multicultural choral series for Earthsongs Publications and co-editor (with John Ferguson) of the revised St. Olaf Choral Series for Augsburg Fortress Publishers. In June 1998, he began his tenure as founding conductor of the Oregon Bach Festival Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy. A graduate of the American Boychoir School, Dr. Armstrong served for over twenty years on the summer faculty of their summer program ALBEMARLE 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 has conducted the Troubadours, a 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 and the Board of Chorus America.
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 Director’s Association at the Walt Disney Hall in Los Angeles, California. Active nationally and internationally as a guest conductor and lecturer, Anton Armstrong was honored in June 2003 to serve as the first Peter Godfrey Visiting Professor of Choral Music at the University of Auckland, New Zealand.
In the summer of 2001, Dr. Armstrong conducted the World Youth Choir sponsored by the International Federation of Choral Music with concerts in Venezuela and the United States. Recent international engagements include serving as a guest conductor at the 2010 Zimriya-The World Assembly of Choirs, and in March 2011 Dr. Armstrong returned to guest conduct the Formosa Singers of Taipei, Taiwan. In the summer of 2011 he was a guest conductor of the Prague Proms International Music Festival sponsored by the Czech National Symphony Orchestra. He has been featured as a clinician at the Fourth World Symposium on Choral Music in Sydney, Australia (1996), the Eighth World Symposium in Copenhagen, Denmark (2008,) and led a conducting master class at the Ninth World Symposium of Choral Music in Puerto Madryn, Argentina (2011). He will return to Israel in July 2013 to once again serve as a guest conductor of the 23rd Zimriya-The World Assembly of Choirs. Finally, he is serving as the Co-Chair of the Artistic Committee for the 10th World Symposium of Choral Music being held in Seoul, South Korea in August 2014.
Dr. Armstrong has frequently conducted ensembles and appeared before regional, national, and international gatherings of the American Choral Directors Association, International Federation of Choral Music, Music Educators National Conference, Choristers Guild, American Guild of Organists, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, Organization of American Kodaly Educators, and the Orff-Schulwerk Association. In recent years he has guest conducted such noted ensembles as the Utah Symphony and Symphony Chorus, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Westminster Choir, and the American Boychoir. He has also collaborated in concert with Bobby McFerrin and Garrison Keillor.
During 2012-13, Dr. Armstrong will lead choral festivals at Carnegie Hall and Lincoln Center, New York, and Orlando, Florida. Other guest conducting/lecturing engagements in 2012-13 include appearances in New Jersey, New York, Utah, Michigan, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Trondheim, Norway.
In January 2006, Baylor University selected Anton Armstrong from a field of 118 distinguished nominees to receive the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. The award is designed to honor great teachers, to stimulate discussion in the academy about the value of teaching, and to encourage departments and institutions to value their own great teachers. He spent February-June 2007 in residency at Baylor University as a visiting professor. In March 2007 he was the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the American Boychoir School, and in October 2009 he received The Distinguished Alumni Award from Michigan State University.