Singer Bios 2020-21
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Beth Althof, soprano, is eternally grateful to have moved to this choral mecca in 1994. She is fortunate and proud to have performed with The Singers since season one. Beth earned her degree in music education from the University of Illinois and has been a music specialist for 33 years, most recently in the Centennial School District. She has sung for Dale Warland in the Dale Warland Singers, the Minnesota Beethoven Festival Chorale, and the SPCO Chorale. Beth has also performed with the MN Bach Ensemble, Bach Roots Festival, Women PerformHers and served as section leader at the House of Hope. Beth lives in White Bear Lake with her husband, Jay and dog, Lucy.
Hannah Armstrong, soprano, has been a proud member of The Singers since 2009. She has been a frequent soloist with this ensemble on works of Handel, Fauré, Bernstein, Poulenc, and Paulus. Hannah has also been a member of the MN Beethoven Festival Chorale under the direction of Dale Warland, The Bach Roots Festival under the direction of Dr. Matthew J. Olson, and has appeared as soprano soloist for The Oratorio Society of Minnesota, Augsburg Masterworks Chorale, and University of Minnesota Orchestra. She graduated from Luther College in 2009 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Music Education and Africana Studies, and while there sang under Dr. Craig Arnold in the Nordic Choir. Hannah holds a D.M.A degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Minnesota where she also earned her M.M. studying with Dr. Wendy Zaro-Mullins. Hannah is a vocal music and choir director at Burroughs Community School in Minneapolis, MN.
Paige Armstrong, soprano, has been a member of The Singers since 2012 and the soprano section leader since 2019. In 2019, she graduated from the University of Minnesota with a Master’s degree in Choral Conducting and she received a Bachelor’s degree in Music Education from Luther College in 2012. Currently, she serves as the Artistic Director of the Edina Chorale, the Choir Teacher at Friendly Hills Middle School, and the Chancel Choir Director at Richfield United Methodist Church. Having competed actively in the last decade, Paige was awarded first place in the graduate division of the NATS-MN competition and the divisional MTNA Young Artists vocal competition in 2015. In 2013, Paige won first place in the National ACDA Undergraduate Conducting Competition. In addition to her current teaching position, Paige has also taught vocal music at Coon Rapids High School and Delano Public Schools, and elementary general music at Red Rock Elementary.
Paul Armstrong, tenor, has been a Singer since the ’12-’13 season and is excited for the upcoming season. Paul graduated in 2012 from Luther College where he studied History and Museum Studies. While at Luther, he sang in the Nordic Choir under Dr. Allen Hightower and played soccer for Chris Garcia-Prats. Paul is currently a Middle School Physical Education Teacher at St. Paul Academy and Summit School where he is also the Girls Soccer Program Head. Paul also enjoys singing at Immaculate Heart of Mary in Minnetonka where he is the Tenor Section Leader and Cantor. In his free time, he likes to coach soccer, train for and compete in triathlons, and is getting his Masters in Teaching at Hamline University.
Jessica Bandelin, soprano, is a graduate of The College of Saint Catherine with a BA in Music. She sang her first project with The Singers in 2010, and could not think of a finer group of folks with whom to spend her Monday nights. She is the Assistant Director of The House of Hope Children’s Choir, and teaches piano. An avid knitter, she’ll often be seen during intermissions working on a new project. Jessica lives in Saint Paul with her lovely husband, Brian and lovelier three children, Skylar, Henry and Aurora.
Tyler Berg, tenor, is excited to be returning for his third season with The Singers, and first season as the tenor section leader of the ensemble! Tyler is the Choir Director at Cretin-Derham Hall High School in St. Paul, MN and tenor section leader at House of Hope Church in Saint Paul, MN. A 2018 graduate of North Dakota State University, Tyler holds a bachelor’s degree in Vocal Music Education, with a minor in instrumental music. He studied conducting with Jo Ann Miller and composition with Jocelyn Hagen. In addition to The Singers, Tyler has also performed with Border CrosSing and Singers in Accord.
Brandon Berger, Baritone, has been with the singers since January 2020. He graduated with a BM degree in Vocal Music Education from St. Olaf College in 2015. Brandon has previously sung with The St. Olaf Choir and the East Central Minnesota Chorale. Currently, Brandon is the Director of Choral Activities at Owatonna Senior High School as well as the Senior Choir Director at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church’s West Campus in Victoria. Brandon is a proud resident of Robbinsdale, where he lives with his wife (Emma), daughter (Edith), and two dogs (Winnie and Fitz).
Jesse Beulke, bass.
Jeff Bipes, bass, is thrilled to be performing in his second decade with The Singers, having previously served as the Bass section leader and Singers representative to the board. He graduated from Concordia College with a Bachelors in Music Education and sang with the Concordia Choir under Dr. René Clausen. He’s also performed with The Dale Warland Singers, Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble, and Vocal Jazz Sextet, as well as conducting with the Southeast Minnesota Honors Choirs. When he’s not signing, he enjoys hanging out with his wife and three daughters, golfing, and working as an Information Technology leader in the Twin Cities area.
Bryan Blessing, baritone and Music Adviser, is a founding member of The Singers and is the vocal music teacher at Oak Grove Middle School in Bloomington. Bryan received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education from Saint John’s University, his Master’s in Music Education from the University of St. Thomas, and is a National Board Certified Teacher in Adolescent Music. Additionally, Bryan is an amateur composer and guitarist who has instructed classical guitar at Crown College. Currently, Bryan is on the advisory board of the ChoralQuest series through the American Composers Forum and is the Chair of the Commissioning Task Force for ACDA-MN
Jess Braaten, soprano, writes: Attending Concordia College in Moorhead, I majored in Vocal Performance. I was also able to be a part of The Concordia Choir, as well as Michael Culloton’s ensemble, The Fargo-Moorhead Choral Artists while living up in Moorhead. The concert that introduced me to The Singers was when they performed Joby Talbot’s, Path of Miracles. It was such a spiritual, moving experience, and made me realize that this was the sort of choir I wanted to be a part of outside of college. Since moving back to the Twin Cities, I have started on a new education path towards a degree in Nursing. I am a part of my church worship team, teach piano and french horn, and nanny.
Baritone Bruce Broquist is a St. Olaf College graduate, where he majored in vocal music performance and biology. Bruce is a charter member of The Singers, and before joining this ensemble had the privilege of singing with The Dale Warland Singers for 12 years. He has also sung with The Paul Kaye Singers, Plymouth Music Series, and the Edina Chorale where he served as section leader and bass soloist. Bruce is a professional pastry chef in the Twin Cities, and runs his own wholesale dessert company “Three Chocolatiers”.
Anna Brudzinski, soprano, is a graduate of St. Olaf College and is finishing her masters in music therapy degree at Augsburg University. She currently works as a board-certified music therapist in the Twin Cities and is so grateful for the opportunity to build relationships with her clients through creative musicking. She has previously sung with The Beethoven Festival Chorale, The Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Chorale, VocalEssence, Mozarteum Chor, and The St. Olaf Choir.
Timothy Bruett, baritone (BA, Luther College ’07; MM, U of M – Twin Cities ’09), is an avid, frequent, and diverse solo performer, having collaborated on works ranging from Baroque opera and oratorio to 20th-century chamber music and art song. He is also a lover of ensemble and church music, and is currently a Section Leader with the Motet Choir at House of Hope Presbyterian Church in Saint Paul, and can be seen regularly with the Mirandola Ensemble. Past engagements include the Twin Cities Early Music Festival with Incantare, the Minnesota Beethoven Festival Chorale, the Choir of Gentlemen & Choristers at the Cathedral of the Incarnation in Garden City, New York, and the Choir of Men & Boys at St. Thomas Church, Fifth Avenue in New York City. A native of Winterset, Iowa, Tim currently lives in Saint Paul with his cat, Rupert, and he is thrilled to make music with The Singers!
Kaia Chambers, alto, joins The Singer for her first season this year. Kaia graduated from Concordia College in 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in multimedia journalism and communication studies. She also earned her Master of Education degree studying counseling and human resource development from South Dakota State University. Previously, Kaia performed with Vox Nova Chorale, Magnum Chorum, and the South Dakota Chorale. She spends most of her free time going on adventures in the great outdoors with her husband Tanner, her son Johannes, and their three dogs Lucy, George, and Ingrid.
Allison Eckberg, alto, has been with The Singers since season 6 in 2009-10. She graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2009 with a BM in Music Education, and spent 10 years as an elementary music teacher in Eden Prairie. She is currently pursuing her Masters of Library and Information Science and looking after her two children, Basil and Cecily. Allison met her husband, Sam, in The Singers, where he sang bass for 7 years.
Britta Fitzer, alto, is excited to be back for her third season with The Singers. Britta graduated from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN with a degree in vocal music education. During her collegiate years she sang for D. Michael Smith and Dr. Rene Clausen. Following college, she spent two years teaching and traveling overseas in South Korea, China, and across east Asia. Her career stateside has been spent teaching general music. She is currently teaching K-8 general music and middle school choir at Yinghua Academy, a Chinese immersion school, in NE Minneapolis. When she isn’t singing you can find her traveling, cooking, or exploring the newest plant-based eatery in town.
Gabe Hanson has been a member of The Singers since 2014. He graduated from Gustavus Adolphus in 2014 and has since kept busy performing with a number of ensembles in the Twins Cities area, including Minnesota Chorale, Bach Roots Festival, The Gregorian Singers, MPLS and Vox Nova – while maintaining a steady schedule making music at Nativity Lutheran Church in Saint Anthony, MN.
Lynette Johnson holds a Bachelor of Music Education degree from North Park University in Chicago, IL. A founding member of The Singers, she has also sung with the Minnesota Beethoven Festival Chorale and the Dale Warland Singers. She currently serves as Director of Choral Music at her home church, Excelsior Covenant. Weekdays find her enjoying the challenges of work comp claims as an administrative assistant at Westfield Insurance. She is a self-professed reading, fishing, and coffee fanatic, and enjoys the entertainment of her two rambunctious felines, Mindy and Merlin.
Andrew Wick Klein, baritone/bass, returned to the Singers in 2021 after a four-year absence. The Stillwater, MN, native earned his B.A. in chemistry from St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, where he also sang with the St. Olaf Choir. In the past he has sung with the Meridian Vocal Consort (Indianapolis, IN), the Los Angeles Master Chorale, and CONCORA (Hartford, CT). Here in the Twin Cities, he has sung with Kantorei, the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra Chorale and Century College Choir. He currently makes his living as a sales engineer for a patent intelligence database for an information services company. In his spare time, he visits local brewery taprooms, reads to his children, and enjoys board games, superhero movies, and chocolate chip cookies.
Diane Koschak, soprano, has been a member with The Singers since 2009. In addition to her work with The Singers, she is also the soprano section leader with the Saint Louis, King of France choir. She has been a member of The Minnesota Chorale, the Rose Ensemble, Consortium Carissimi, The Gregorian Singers and the Waltham Abbey Singers, as well as performing free-lance work. She has a Vocal Music Education degree from Bemidji State University, and a Master’s in Education from Saint Mary’s University. During the day, she is an Elementary Music teacher at Valley Crossing Community School, in Woodbury. When not singing or teaching, you’ll probably find her on a dog-walk with her husband Kurt, as well as her golden retrievers.
Jessica Lowry sang her first season with The Singers in 2013 and is thrilled to be back again this season! Jessica graduated from Luther College in 2013 with a BA in Instrumental and Vocal Music Education. Currently, she is the Orchestra Director at North and West junior high schools in the Hopkins School District where she also teaches guitar. Previously, Jessica taught primary music and strings at the American International School in Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. A violist at heart, Jessica can often be found her marking her bowings while practicing a Bach cello suite, leaving no blank space in her margins. On the off chance you catch her doing something not musical, she’s probably experimenting cooking with random ingredients she impulsively purchased at the farmer’s market.
Krin McMillen, soprano, made her debut with The Singers in 2019. Krin was awarded first place in the seventh division of NATS-MN, and was a multi-year winner of Bethel University’s concerto/aria and performance prize competitions. Prior to joining The Singers, Krin was a soprano with Minnesota Chorale since 2015, where she performed various works with Minnesota Orchestra including Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Symphony No. 9, Brahms’ A German Requiem, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban Live!, It’s a Wonderful Life Live!, and more. Krin is an arts and music management professional, and has served as casting director/manager of all live entertainment for Valleyfair Amusement Park, Operations Manager for Minnesota Youth Symphonies, and now as Performing Arts Coordinator for Airport Foundation MSP, where she books and designs diverse music and performing arts experiences for the travelers of MSP airport and the aviation community. Krin is passionate about teaching young musicians, and works as a voice instructor for Chaska Music Studios.
Soprano Susanna Mennicke has been a capital-S Singer since 2012. In addition to working with the Singers, she has performed with the SPCO Chorale, the Minnesota Beethoven Festival, Kantorei, Music Baroque, and the Camarata Music Company in Seoul. After graduating from Concordia University Saint Paul with B.A.s in Art History and Vocal Performance, teaching English in South Korea, and working at a nonprofit, Susanna now works as a graphic designer. When not singing or working, she enjoys playing pub trivia with her friends, trying new restaurants and recipes with her husband, and doting on her cat, Panda.
Matthew J Olson leads a diverse career as a conductor, choral composer, singer, songwriter, arts administrator, and music educator. In the upcoming 2017-18 season, he serves as: Artistic Director of Oratory Bach Ensemble, a professional baroque orchestra and choir; Visiting Director of Choirs at Carleton College; Instructor of Voice at North Hennepin Community College; Guest Conductor of Magnum Chorum; and Assistant Conductor of The Singers, with whom he will lead performances of Joby Talbot’s choral symphony Path of Miracles. He frequently serves as a clinician for high school choral festivals, and his choral compositions and arrangements are published by Colla Voce, Santa Barbara, and via his website www.matthewjolson.com. He studied choral and orchestral conducting at St. Olaf College, The Oregon Bach Festival, Michigan State University, The Canford Conducting School (U.K.), and The University of Minnesota.
Mitchell D. Peery made his debut as a Singer in 2017 during the collaboration with the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra to put on Handel’s Messiah. He then reappeared in the bass section for the 2018 performances of Joby Talbot’s Path of Miracles. Mitchell recently joined the ensemble as a full-time member, just in time for the 15th anniversary season! Previous appearances in choral ensembles include the Concordia Choir (2011-2014), Kantorei (Denver, 2014), Colorado State University Chamber Choir (2015-2016), and the local Vox Nova Chorale (2016-present). Mitchell holds a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from Concordia College-Moorhead, and is currently working toward a Master of Nursing degree at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Tara Ritter, Alto, joined The Singers in 2019. She previously sang with Magnum Chorum and the St. Olaf Choir. Tara graduated from St. Olaf College with a degree in Environmental Studies and from The Ohio State University with a M.S. in Environment and Natural Resources. She works as a project manager for perennial grains research at the University of Minnesota.
Brady Ritland, tenor, has been a proud member of The Singers since 2021. A new addition to the Twin Cities, Brady recently moved to the metro from Fargo, ND to complete his student teaching experience by teaching choir at Rosemount High School and general music at Gideon Pond Elementary. He will graduate from NDSU’s Challey School of Music in December 2021 with a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education and a minor in instrumental music. During his undergraduate career, Brady served as the tenor section leader in the NDSU Concert Choir and Madrigal Singers, served as a student conductor of the Concert Choir, was commissioned by the university to arrange and transcribe pieces for multiple ensembles, and played double bass/bass guitar in the NDSU Opera Orchestra as well as many NDSU Theater pit orchestras.
John Rynders, tenor, has been a member of The Singers since 2015. John has previously sung with the New York based Manhattan Chorale (2012-2015), performing in such venues as Carnegie Hall, Lincoln Center, and Chicago’s Orchestra Hall. Prior to graduating from Luther College in 2007, John sang in the Nordic choir for three years under the direction of Weston Noble and Dr. Craig Arnold. John currently works as the tenor section leader and soloist at St. Paul’s United Church of Christ in St. Paul.
Julia Salzman, alto, is thrilled to be realizing a long-held dream by joining The Singers for the 2021-22 season. She recently moved to Minneapolis from Rochester, where she sang with the Choral Arts Ensemble for 13 seasons, under the direction of Michael Culloton and then Rick Kvam. Julia graduated from Luther College in 2008 with a B.A. in vocal performance. While at Luther, Julia sang with the Nordic Choir under the direction of Craig Arnold and performed in several music department productions. Julia also holds an Ed.S. in School Psychology and continues her work with the Rochester Public Schools to connect students with special education resources. Julia loves spending time with her husband, Max, and their two young children, Hattie and Frankie, and is keenly aware that some days may be long but the years are short!
Ricky Satterness, tenor, is delighted to be entering his first season with The Singers. Ricky graduated from Concordia College, Moorhead in 2016, where he studied accounting and sung under Dr. René Clausen and Dr. Michael Culloton. Currently, Ricky is a CPA and works as a Financial Reporting Specialist for Laureate Education, Inc. In his free time, Ricky enjoys playing tennis and volleyball, as well as singing in the Century College Choir under Dr. Erik Christiansen.
Scott Senko, tenor
Ben Winkler has been a tenor in The Singers since the 2018-2019 season. A graduate of Augustana University (SD), Ben has been making music in the Twin Cities for more than two decades. In addition to The Singers, Ben sings with the Bach Roots Festival, Vox Nova Chorale, St. John the Evangelist Episcopal Church, and Opera on Tap Twin Cities. Ben is working on a Master’s Degree from both Luther Seminary in Theology and Adams State University in Clinical Mental Health Counseling.