SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) – The choir at one Sioux Falls University is celebrating a big milestone. For a century, students at Augustana University have been sharing their voices in the Augustana Choir.
They spent one morning performing for students at Roosevelt High School.
Dylan Larsen is the vice president of the choir and actually attended Roosevelt.
“It was really awesome being able to have a solo and sing in front of my high school choir director as well as students that I have taught before back in the day, I taught them when they were in middle school and I was a senior in high school so it was nice to come back to where I used to sing,” vice president of Augustana Choir, Dylan Larsen said.
This is just one of the many events where the choir shares its talents.
It was founded in 1921. Over the years there have been five conductors. Paul Nesheim currently holds that title.
“The first was Carl Youngdahl, who founded the choir, he came to Augustana in 1921 to head the music department at that time and stayed until 1953, so it was a very long tenure that he had,” conductor of the Augustana Choir, Paul Nesheim said.
Nesheim says the mission of the choir is three-fold.
“An educational mission, of course, we have some students that are going to be going out to do the same thing that I’m doing right now, which is conduct choirs and teach music, we have an artistic mission, we want to present the best artistry, the highest level of excellence that we can when we present our music, and then we as a university of the Evangelical Lutheran of American, also have a spiritual mission,” Nesheim said.
Students from all over the region are part of this choral ensemble.
Margaret Samp has a longtime connection to Augustana, in fact, she’s the fourth generation to attend the university.
“I grew up in the halls of Augie, I studied with Doctor Lisa Grevlos since I was 9 years old and so I always grew up hearing the Augustana Choir, and my parents are alumni, my grandparents, great-grandparents,” choir member, Margaret Samp said.
For her, it’s an honor to be part of the choir.
“When I’m traveling across this country that people know about the Augustana Choir when I’m on the east coast, I’m not just ‘oh you go to which college?’ it’s ‘oh you’re a part of the Augustana Choir!’ it’s a great choir that’s part of the Midwest and it’s known when I’m in Boston or Washington, D.C.,” Samp said.
You may think it’s only music majors who make up this group, but the choir draws in students from all areas of study, including Arden Koenecke, who is a communication studies and government major.
“I just love choir, I’ve been in it since I was in high school and I wanted to continue that into college,” president of Augustana Choir, Arden Koenecke said. “I go to my communications classes and government classes, and even the other activities that I do on campus are usually like marketing and social media things, so choir is just a lovely way to do something different for an hour every day.”
By performing for these high school students, members hope it will inspire some of them to continue singing into the future.
“We were in their shoes kind of also deciding if we wanted to continue choir in college and thinking about next steps, and so I think to be able to go in and show them what it’s like to be in a college choir, singing in a college choir, hoping to inspire them to keep going with music,” Koenecke said.
And help carry on the legacy for many years to come.
“We hope to continue traditions that we have, to expand on traditions, and to over the next 100 years, who knows where music will go in terms of its style and expressive potential,” Nesheim said.
“Being a part of the 100th year of the choir is just a huge honor,” Larsen said.
The 100th-anniversary celebration is from April 28th-30th. The weekend will consist of different activities like a concert at the Washington Pavilion and tours of the School of Music. For a full schedule of events, click here.