Karen Brunssen

Associate Professor at Bienen School of Music

    Karen Brunssen, mezzo soprano, Associate Professor, Bienen School of Music, Northwestern University, Co-Chair of Music Performance.

    Noted for her spirited and inspiring presentations, Ms. Brunssen is a frequent guest clinician, master teacher, panelist, and adjudicator for music schools and organizations including the National Association of Teachers of Singing Conferences (NATS) in 2012 and 2014, NATS National Workshops in Milwaukee and Memphis in 2011 and 2012, the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), Classical Singer Conference and Convention, Association of Teachers of Singing (AOTOS - England), Opera America, Illinois Choral Directors' Association, Iowa Choral Directors' Association, and Chorus America. In 2008, 2009, 2010, 2013, and 2014 Brunssen was invited to do unique week-long teaching residencies at Cambridge University in England and as a guest of Clare and Robinson Colleges, where she gave voice lessons, master classes, and taught classes and workshops involving 19 of the colleges. She has also taught at the Zürcher Sing-Akademie in Switzerland, Castleton Music Festival, the International Institute of Vocal Arts in Chiari, Italy, and at Dorian Opera Theatre. She serves on the national board of NATS as governor of the Central Region and was the program chair for the NATS National Conference in 2016.

    Her article, "The Evolving Voice: Profound at Every Age," appeared in the ACDA's Choral Journal (February 2010) and was based on a 2008 ACDA Central Division interest session presentation titled "Ages of the Voice." It included recorded examples of singing from the ages of three months to 103 years of age, highlighting the life cycle of individual voices, professional and amateur, through their years of singing. She has presented on this topic often for area organizations, NATS chapters, and national conferences.

    Ms. Brunssen's students have gone on to sing professionally and as young artists with the Metropolitan Opera, Houston Grand Opera, Los Angeles Opera, Canadian Opera, Washington National Opera's Domingo-Cafritz Young Artist Program, Merola and Adler Programs with San Francisco Opera, Glimmerglass Opera, Santa Fe Opera, Chautauqua, Des Moines Metro Opera, Minnesota Opera, New York City Opera, Wolf Trap, Aspen Music Festival, Chicago Opera Theatre, and Sarasota Opera, and teach in in colleges and universities throughout the United States.

    Her singing career has spanned over 30 years including Chicago, Cleveland, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Houston, St. Louis, National, San Diego, Seattle, Milwaukee, Netherlands Radio, Mexico City Orchestras, Buffalo Philharmonic, Cincinnati Opera, Music of the Baroque, Blossom Festival, Aspen Music Festival, Carmel Bach Festival, Thomaskirche in Leipzig, Prague Autumn Festival and more. Repertoire includes 60+ Cantatas and major choral works of Bach. She is a member of the distinguished American Academy of Teachers of Singing, and was presented the Weston Noble Award, Luther College.

    Mark Potvin

    Conductor of Norsemen and Cathedral Choir

      Mark Potvin is conductor of Norsemen and Cathedral Choir at Luther College, where he also teaches conducting and secondary choral methods. Mr. Potvin holds a Master of Music degree from St. Cloud State University (St. Cloud, MN) and a Bachelor of Arts from Luther College. He is in the final stages of coursework toward a DMA in Music Education through Boston University. His conducting mentors include Weston Noble, Timothy Peter, Lee Nelson, and Matthew Ferrell.

      From 2001-17, Mr. Potvin was director of choirs at Princeton High School (Princeton, MN). He served as the K-12 and high school department chair, taught three curricular choirs, four extracurricular jazz/pop choirs, two chamber ensembles, and music theory, and directed the district’s annual musical theatre productions, Madrigal Dinner, and summer drama camp.  

      Under Potvin's direction, the Princeton High School Concert Choir was invited to perform for three conferences of the Minnesota Music Educators Association, two conferences of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) of Minnesota, and for the 2014 conference of North-Central ACDA. Concert Choir twice performed at Luther College’s Dorian Choral Invitational and made similar appearances at both the Wartburg College Meistersinger Festival (Waverly, IA) and Concordia College Choral Festival (Moorhead, MN).

      Aside from his duties at PHS, Mr. Potvin served as Artistic Director for the East Central Minnesota Chorale (ECMC) from 2007-14. ECMC is a civic choir representing more than ten East Central Minnesota communities in Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine counties. He is the founding director of Unum Vox, ECMC's regional high school honor choir, and led that ensemble through its first three seasons. From 2008-11, Mark fulfilled various teaching duties at St. Cloud State University (SCSU). At different times, his positions included assistant conductor of the SCSU Concert Choir and as conductor of both the SCSU Chamber Singers and Men’s Chorus.

      An active member of ACDA, Potvin was named "Outstanding Young Choral Director" by the ACDA of Minnesota in 2008, edited ACDA-MN's statewide journal, Star of the North, from 2008-11, and served as Repertoire and Standards Chair for Men's Choirs from 2011-13. He is happily married to Susan Potvin, an instrumental music teacher and curriculum specialist. They are the proud parents of two boys: Noah and Simon.

      Jennaya Robison

      Assistant Professor of Music

        Jennaya Robison is in demand as a conductor, clinician, and soprano throughout the United States. She currently is an Assistant Professor of Music at Luther College where she conducts Aurora and Collegiate Chorale and teaches courses in conducting and vocal pedagogy. Prior to teaching at Luther College, she was the Artistic Director of Scottsdale Musical Arts, a multi-generational organization comprised of a professional orchestra and choir as well as children’s choirs and youth orchestras.

        She has held faculty and teaching positions at the University of Arizona, Luther College, and the University of New Mexico. She has conducted orchestras at the University of Arizona, Luther College, and as well as community orchestras in Tucson and Phoenix, Arizona. As a public-school educator, she has taught in Iowa, Wisconsin, and Minnesota.

        As a soprano, Dr. Robison has sung as a soloist with the Grammy award winning True Concord, Tucson Symphony, Arizona Opera, Scottsdale Arts Orchestra, Scottsdale Symphony, St. Andrew's Bach Society, Phoenix Youth Symphony, Tucson Masterworks Chorale, Rochester Choral Arts, Chamber Orchestra of Albuquerque. As a chorister, she has sung as a member of the Arizona Choir under the direction of Bruce Chamberlain, Las Cantantes under the direction of Bradley Ellingboe, the Dale Warland Singers in Minneapolis, Minnesota under the direction of Dale Warland, and in the Nordic Choir of Luther College under the direction of Weston Noble.

        Her primary area of research is in the field of vocal health within the choral ensemble. She has presented lectures and workshops on vocal health in the choral setting at regional and state ACDA conferences and state NATS conferences. She has been an invited conductor and clinician at numerous festivals including All State Choirs in Minnesota, Wisconsin, and North Dakota, Wisconsin Middle Level Honors Choirs, Texas Collegiate Women's Honor Choir, Montreat Music Conference Festival Choir and various regional and state honor choirs in Texas, Nevada, Arizona, Illinois, Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.

        Dr. Robison holds the Doctor of Musical Arts in Choral Conducting from the University of Arizona, the Master of Music in conducting and voice from the University of New Mexico, and the Bachelor of Arts in music from Luther College. She is currently the coordinator of Collegiate Repertoire and Standards and director of Student Activities for the North Central chapter of the American Choral Directors Association. Her choral series is published with Pavane Music.

        Tom Trenney

        Featured Guest

          Tom Trenney shares his passion as pastoral musician, composer, and teacher in worship with his home congregation, in the college classroom, and in performances, hymn festivals, choral and organ workshops and master classes all around the country. Since 2009, he has been blessed to serve as Minister of Music to First-Plymouth Church (United Church of Christ) in Lincoln, Nebraska, where he shepherds three adult choirs, accompanies the congregation on the Schoenstein organ, preaches sermons, and guides the Abendmusik at First-Plymouth Concert Series. In 2015-16, three of First-Plymouth’s choirs were honored to perform at conventions of the Nebraska Choral Directors Association, the Nebraska Music Educators Association, and the North Central American Choral Directors Association (ACDA). In March 2017, First-Plymouth’s chamber choir, Cantorei, sang two worship services at the national ACDA convention in Minneapolis.

          In Fall 2018, Tom will serve as visiting conductor of the Wartburg Choir and Ritterchor Men's Chorus at Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. His semester in residence will include leadership of the annual Christmas With Wartburg festival. In Spring 2019, Tom will serve as visiting conductor of the Doane Choir at Doane University in Crete, Nebraska, preparing the choir to sing in a performance of Brahms' A German Requiem which he will conduct with the Abendmusik Chorus and Nebraska Wesleyan University Choir in April 2019.

          In addition to his ministry at First-Plymouth, Tom is Music Director of sounding light — a chamber choir which he founded in southeastern Michigan in 2003. sounding light was honored with the invitation to perform at the national convention of the ACDA in March 2017. In spring 2019, sounding light will offer the Michigan and Ohio premieres of John Muehleisen's moving and meaningful Pietà.

          Tom’s choral compositions have been published by Augsburg Fortress, E.C. Schirmer/Galaxy, Morningstar, MusicSpoke, Pavane, and G. Schirmer. His music has been sung in churches and colleges around the country. Tom’s CD recordings with First-Plymouth and sounding light have been featured on national public radio’s Pipedreams, With Heart and Voice, and Sing for Joy.

          Most notably, Tom has been blessed to perform and teach at regional and national conventions of the American Guild of Organists (AGO), the ACDA, the Organ Historical Society, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians, the National Association of Pastoral Musicians, the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, the Sewanee Church Music Conference, and the Calvin Institute of Worship. In 2017, he was choral clinician at Montreat Worship and Music, Lutheridge Worship and Music, and Atlanta’s midwinter Choristers Guild Festival; and he preached, conducted, played, and taught at the National Convocation of the Fellowship of United Methodists in Music and Worship Arts. He is grateful to be featured in 2018-19 as worship leader and clinician at Iowa ACDA, Luther College's Dorian Festival for Adults, and the National AGO convention.

          A graduate of the Cleveland Institute of Music and the Eastman School of Music, Tom is grateful for the inspiration of his teachers and mentors – especially Anton Armstrong, David Davidson, Craig Hella Johnson, (Mister) Fred Rogers, William Weinert, Anne Wilson and Todd Wilson.

          Jill Wilson

          Assistant Professor of Music

            Jill Wilson is currently serving as Assistant Professor of Music and Coordinator of Music Education at Luther College. She teaches several music education courses, including Elementary Music Methods, Music Education Curriculum and Strategies, Senior Project in Music Education, Music Education Internship, and Middle School General Music Methods, and directs Cantorei. Formerly the women’s choir repertoire and standards chair, then editor of the organization's publication, The Sounding Board, she is currently serving as president of the Iowa Choral Directors Association.

            Dr. Wilson has been a member of the Iowa Music Educators Association board and K-16 Summit committee and is currently co-chairing the Iowa Fine Arts Standards Adoption committee. She has experience teaching at all levels K-16, most recently serving on the faculty at Morningside College.

            Refereed research presentations include state, regional, national, and international conferences of the National Association for Music Education, Music In Schools and Teacher Education Commission, North Central American Choral Directors Association, Iowa Choral Directors Association, and several state Music Educators Associations. Dr. Wilson also presented at Desert Skies (AZ) and the Suncoast Music Education Research Symposium (FL). Peer-reviewed journal publications appear in Research Issues in Music Education and Gender Research In Music Education. She also has a chapter in Contemporary Research in Music Learning Across the Lifespan published by Routledge.