Steven Amundson is in his 36th year on the faculty of St. Olaf College where he serves as Professor of Music and Conductor of the St. Olaf Orchestra, which recently won the 2013 American Prize in Orchestral Performance among colleges and universities. Under his direction, the orchestra tours nationally and internationally, and has been featured on NPR, PBS and twice on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion.
In addition to his conducting duties, Amundson teaches courses in music theory, aural skills, and conducting. He is the founding conductor of the Twin Cities’ based Metropolitan Symphony and served as Music Director and Conductor of the Bloomington Symphony from 1984 – 1997. Amundson has guest conducted professional ensembles in Minnesota including the Duluth Symphony and the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra. He has also served as conductor for the Interlochen Arts Camp. He is a frequent conductor of all-state orchestras throughout the United States.
His orchestral compositions have received over 750 performances by university, civic and professional orchestras in the U.S., Canada, the United Kingdom, and Taiwan. His music has been recorded by both the Houston Symphony and Cincinnati Pops Orchestra.
A 1977 graduate of Luther College, Amundson obtained the Master of Music degree in orchestral conducting from Northwestern University and did further studies at the University of Virginia, the Aspen Music School and the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria. In the 1980 International Conducting Competition hosted by the Mozarteum and Austrian National Radio, Amundson placed first earning the Hans Haring Prize. In 1992, the Minnesota Music Education Association named him “Minnesota Orchestra Educator of the Year.”
Dr. Jack Stamp is currently adjunct Professor of Music at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls where he teaches conducting. Prior to this appointment, Dr. Stamp served as Director of Band Studies at Indiana University of Pennsylvania for 25 years. In addition, he served as chairperson of the music department for six years. He holds a DMA degree in Wind Conducting from Michigan State University where he studied with Eugene Corporon. He currently resides in Hudson, WI with his wife, LeAnn.
Prior to his twenty-five years at IUP, he served as chairman of the Division of Fine Arts at Campbell University in North Carolina. He also taught for several years in the public schools of North Carolina. In addition to these posts, Dr. Stamp served as conductor of the Duke University Wind Symphony (1988-89) and was musical director of the Triangle British Brass Band, leading them to a national brass band championship in 1989.
Dr. Stamp is known throughout the world as a composer of wind band music. His primary composition teachers have been Robert Washburn and Fisher Tull, though he was strongly influenced by his music theory teachers at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and East Carolina. Other studies include work with noted American composers David Diamond, Joan Tower and Richard Danielpour.
He is active as a guest conductor, clinician, adjudicator, and composer throughout North America and Great Britain. His compositions have been commissioned and performed by leading military and university bands across the United States. He has won the praise of American composers David Diamond, Norman Dello Joio, Ron Nelson, Michael Torke, Samuel Adler, Robert Ward, Robert Washburn, Fisher Tull, Nancy Galbraith and Bruce Yurko for performances of their works. He is also a contributing author to the “Teaching Music Through Performance in Band” series released by GIA Publications.
In 1996, he received the Orpheus Award from the Zeta Tau Chapter of Phi Mu Alpha for service to music and was named a “Distinguished Alumnus” of Indiana University of Pennsylvania. In 1999, he received the “Citation of Excellence” from the Pennsylvania Music Educators Association. In 2000, he was inducted into the prestigious American Bandmasters Association. He was awarded the title of “University Professor” for the 2008-2009 academic year at IUP. This is the highest award the university gives to a professor.
He is founder and conductor of the Keystone Winds, an ensemble dedicated to the performance of American band music. Two CD recordings on the Citadel label entitled “Past the Equinox: The Music of Jack Stamp” and “Cloudsplitter” by the Keystone Wind Ensemble with the composer conducting feature his band works. He is founder and conductor of this ensemble, and also leads them on the Citadel releases, “Night Fantasy: The Wind Music of Robert Ward”, “Divertimento: Wind Music by American Composers”, “Celebrations”, “Wind Visions: The Music of Samuel Adler”, “Songs of Abelard”, “Pageant”, “Cornerstones”, and “Out of the Depths”. He has also initiated a new series on the Klavier label which boasts three releases which include composer interviews: “The Composer’s Voice: The Music of Norman Dello Joio&”, “The Composer’s Voice: The Music of H. Owen Reed”, “The Composer’s Voice: The Music of William Schuman”. “The Composer’s Voice: the Music of Alfred Reed”, “The Composer’s Voice: The Music of Ron Nelson”, “Leroy Anderson – The Phantom Regiment and Other Tales” and “The Band Music of Fisher Tull” released in the fall of 2015.
Laura Caviani is a veteran of two decades of performing, recording and composing. With five CDs under her own name, and many more as a “side–man”, she has recorded with some of the best jazz musicians in Minnesota. Her latest projects have focused on arranging her favorite childhood classical piano pieces for jazz groups. Caviani was one of five finalists at the International Jazz Piano Competition in Jacksonville, FL. Her release Going There, enjoyed a long run on the JazzWeek national radio charts. Featuring all original work, it was hailed as “piano jazz trio of the highest order” by Downbeat contributor Bob Protzman. Other releases have received such praise as “stunningly fresh” from JazzTimes and “in a word, outstanding” from Tom Surowicz of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. Recent commissions include diverse projects ranging from setting music to poetry (A Girl Named Vincent, Prudence Johnson) to composing string quartets (Four Voices) and choral works (Great River Chorale and VocalEssence). She holds degrees from both Lawrence University and The University of Michigan at Ann Arbor. As a dedicated educator, she is on faculty at Carleton College, where she directs the jazz ensemble, coaches chamber groups, and teaches jazz piano. She has adjudicated and performed at jazz festivals throughout the country. Please visit www.lauracaviani.com for upcoming performances.
Robert (Bob) Demaree joined the UW-Platteville faculty in 1992. Dr. Demaree conducts the Chamber Choir, the Coro D’Angeli women’s choir, and the Singing Pioneers men’s choir, and teaches choral conducting, choral literature, and music history. Annual choral area events include the High School Choral Festival, three tours, and performances of major choral/orchestral works. Since 1992, the choral area has sponsored performances and workshops by The Dale Warland Singers, the Severacek Children’s Choir, Angelica, Chanticleer (twice), the Moscow State Conservatory Choir, the Jubilate Children’s Choir, the Albert McNeil Jubilee Singers, the Spirit Chorale of Los Angeles, and John Wustman. UW-Platteville choristers have also traveled abroad to Germany, the Czech Republic, Austria, England, and Ireland since 2000. In the summer of 2011, he spearheaded a performance trip involving 108 travelers to New York City.
Since 1995, UW-Platteville choirs have been invited to perform five times for the Wisconsin School Music Conference, six times for the Wisconsin Choral Directors Association convention, once for the MENC North Central Division convention, and once for the ACDA North Central Division convention. In addition, UW-Platteville choirs have performed the Mozart Requiem, Stravinsky Symphony of Psalms, Brahms Requiem, Beethoven Missa Solemnis, Verdi Requiem, Handel’s Messiah, Beethoven’s Symphony #9, Mahler’s Symphony #2, Bach’s Magnificat, and Haydn’s Paukenmesse, Heiligmesse and Schopfungsmesse with orchestra recently. In the fall of 1998, UW-Platteville choirs were invited to perform Scriabin’s Prometheus in Chicago’s Orchestra Hall with the Kirov Orchestra of the Mariinsky Theatre under the direction of Valery Gergiev. Dr. Demaree organized the commissioning of two works in 2002, a sacred work by John Ferguson and Her Sacred Spirit Soars, a secular work by Eric Whitacre now published by Hal Leonard.
Demaree is active as a clinician, church musician, and adjudicator. In October of 2009, he conducted the WMEA High School Mixed Honors Choir. In 2008, he presented interest sessions at the WCDA state convention, the NCACDA regional convention in Fargo, and at WCDA’s Singspiel. In 2006-07, he conducted the North Dakota All-State women’s choir and provided workshops or clinics in Illinois, Minnesota, Nebraska, and South Dakota. He also is a founder, artistic director, and singer in the Heartland Singers, a private, professional chorus of 36 musicians from Wisconsin and Iowa.
In 2000, Demaree was awarded UW-Platteville’s Outstanding Advisor to a Student Organization Award, and in the fall of 2001, he was named a recipient of the Alliant Energy/Underkofler Award for Teaching Excellence. This prestigious award was one of four given in 2001 to faculty from the Wisconsin System. In July of 2012, he was named President-Elect of the North Central Division of ACDA and will serve as chair of the 2016 conference in Sioux Falls, SD. He is a past president of WCDA, was the chair for their 2004 and 2005 state conventions, and has chaired, hosted, provided sessions or conducted for most of its major projects, including Singspiel, Singing in Wisconsin, and NextDirection. He served on the planning committees for the NCACDA conventions in 2000, 2006, and 2012. In the fall of 2009, Dr. Demaree assumed artistic leadership for the Dubuque Chorale, one of the Midwest’s premier community choirs.
Allen Hightower is the Director of Choral Studies at the University of North Texas. At UNT, Allen serves as conductor of the A Cappella Choir and the Grand Chorus, and oversees a comprehensive choral program that includes six choirs and a collegium musicum. Dr. Hightower leads the master’s and doctoral programs in choral conducting.
Prior to his appointment at UNT, Dr. Hightower was the first holder of the Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music, at Luther College, where he served as conductor of the renowned Nordic Choir and Artistic Director of Christmas at Luther. As Luther’s Director of Choral Activities, he gave leadership to a choral program that included four conductors, six choirs, and over 530 singers. Under his leadership, the Nordic Choir recorded six compact discs, made annual tours throughout the United States, and toured Europe on two occasions. In March of 2014, Dr. Hightower conducted the Nordic Choir in performance at the North Central Division of ACDA.
From 2000-2010, Dr. Hightower served as Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Sam Houston State University. During his tenure, the SHSU Chorale performed for the 2007 National Convention of the American Choral Directors Association, the 2010 Southwestern Division of ACDA, and the 2003, 2006, and 2010 conventions of the Texas Music Educators Association. Prior to his appointment at Sam Houston, Allen was the conductor of the Chamber Choir at California State University, Long Beach. From 1992-1996 he was Director of Choirs at Odessa Permian High School, and led the PHS Kantorei and Chamber Orchestra in performance at the 1996 Texas Music Educators Association convention.
From 2005-2010 Allen was Artistic Director and Conductor of the Houston Masterworks Chorus and Orchestra, with whom he led performances of many of the most significant masterworks of the choral-orchestral repertoire. As a church musician, he has served Baptist, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Congregational churches in Texas, California, and Minnesota. He served as the Duesenberg Concert Choir Chair for the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival during the summers of 2007, 2011, and 2013.
Allen earned an undergraduate degree in music education from Sam Houston State University, a master’s degree in choral conducting from the Eastman School of Music, a master’s degree in orchestral conducting from Baylor University, and a doctorate in conducting from UCLA, where he served as graduate assistant to Donald Neuen. He pursued further orchestral conducting studies at the University of Southern California; and in 1993 and 2000 was a member of the conducting class of Helmuth Rilling at the Oregon Bach Festival. Allen was first-prize winner in the graduate division of the ACDA Conducting Competition in 1997; and from 1997-2000 he served as assistant to Paul Salamunovich, conductor the Los Angeles Master Chorale.