Luther College announces 2023 recipients of Homecoming Music Awards
DECORAH, IOWA—This 2023 homecoming season, Luther College continues the tradition of presenting the Weston Noble, Dr. Carlo A. Sperati, Presser Scholar and Hemp Prize awards. Student and alumni award winners are recognized each year during the annual Homecoming Concert.
2023 Weston Noble Award
Jan (Bakker) Knutson, class of 1978, is the 2023 recipient of the Weston Noble Award. Weston Noble served on the music faculty at Luther College from 1948 to 2005. During that time, the college grew in numbers, in national reputation and Noble became a leader in training trailblazers in the field of music education. Established in 2004, the Weston Noble Award recognizes music educators who honor and continue Noble’s legacy.
During her time at Luther, Knutson established herself as an exceptional musician and young conductor. After graduating from Luther, she began teaching elementary school music in Charles City, Iowa, and earned a graduate degree in music education and vocal performance from Florida State University.
From 2002 to 2021, Knutson served as the director of choirs and department chair at Parker High School in Janesville, Wisconsin. Under her direction, Parker High School’s a cappella choir toured across the country including in Washington, D.C., New York City, Philadelphia and San Antonio. The group was also a featured choir in the Dorian Choral Invitational at Luther College.
Knutson founded Parker Arts Academy, which integrates an arts-focused curriculum into general high school education. She now serves as coordinator for the academy.
Knutson has been the recipient of numerous awards including the Florentine Opera Young Artist Career Development Program, the Jerry Hall of Fame Award, a Herb Kohl Teaching Fellowship and Teacher of the Year in the Janesville School District.
2023 Dr. Carlo A. Sperati Award
Gene Anderson, class of 1963, is the 2023 recipient of the Dr. Carlo A. Sperati Award. Sperati, a pillar of Luther College and the Lutheran music tradition, was the conductor of the Luther College Concert Band for 38 years until his retirement in 1943. His work ethic and demand for perfection and patience when working with music students are part of the identity of the Luther College Music Department to this day. This award recognizes those traits in music educators as they follow in Sperati’s footsteps.
After graduating from Luther, Anderson taught in public schools across Iowa for nine years before earning a master’s degree in woodwind performance from the University of Iowa. He taught at Winona State University for three years before returning to Iowa City and completing a Ph.D. at the University of Iowa in 1978. He took a job at Monmouth College, where he taught music theory in addition to directing the college’s band and serving as chair of the music department. In 1983, he earned an additional Ph.D. in music theory with a dissertation on Jean-Philippe Rameau’s Traité de l’harmonie.
Anderson then worked as the director of bands and a music theory instructor for 20 years at the University of Richmond in Virginia. He was named head of the music department, a role he spent 13 years in, before retiring in 2017. Anderson formed Doctors of Jazz, an ensemble made up of university colleagues. They have played in Europe and continue to play around Richmond and at the occasional jazz festival.
2023 Presser Scholar Award
Malachi Retmann, class of 2024, is the recipient of the 2023 Presser Scholar Award. The Presser Scholar Award was established in 1939 by the Presser Foundation in honor of Theodore Presser, the publisher of Etude music magazine and founder of the music publishing firm bearing his name. The award, funded by a monetary gift from the Presser Foundation of Haverford, Pennsylvania, is presented annually to a current Luther music major chosen by a music faculty vote by consideration of excellence and merit.
Rettmann, a double major in music and management, is from Madison, Wisconsin. He was a member of the Wisconsin Youth Symphony Orchestra for six years. He has studied bass performance during his time at Luther.
In the summer of 2022, Rettmann completed a Student-Faculty Summer Research Project, along with his mentor Andi Beckendorf, on how to improve recruiting and marketing for Luther College’s Dorian Summer Music Camps.
Rettmann is now working on his senior capstone project, which examines how to manage and promote diversity in the professional orchestra world. After graduation, he plans to use this research as part of a career in arts and music administration.
2023 Hemp Prize
Emma Prostine, class of 2024, is the 2023 recipient of the Hemp Prize. The Richard C. and Joann M. Hemp Family Prize for Orchestra Performance is given annually to a senior member of the Luther College Symphony Orchestra. The $8,000 scholarship is funded through an endowment established by Richard, class of 1964, and Joann (Harr) Hemp, class of 1965. Richard Hemp is a regent emeritus, former chair of the Luther College Board of Regents and former interim president of Luther College. The auditioned prize awards students of exceptional performance, talent, musicianship and leadership.
Prostine, a violinist, came to Luther because of the school’s orchestra program. She has served as the principal second violin in the Luther College Orchestra for the past three years. Prostine attended Washington High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where she represented her school in the All-State Orchestra playing violin.
Prostine, a chemistry major, serves as president of the Chemistry Club and a Health Sciences Club executive. She also received the Adrien Docken Award for Excellence in Chemistry. After graduating from Luther, she plans to attend University of Iowa next fall to earn a doctorate in pharmacy.
About Luther College
At Luther College in beautiful Decorah, Iowa, students explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Luther’s academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at luther.edu.