Two Waupaca High School choral groups will sing with the Saint John’s University Men’s Chorus during part of a Saturday, March 8, concert in the high school’s Performing Arts Center.
The concert will begin at 7:30 p.m. A free will donation will be taken during the intermission and go toward the costs of the men’s chorus tour, as well as music scholarships and programs at the university.
Planning for the concert began last October.
That is when Kira Morrissey, a music instructor at WHS, received an email from her father, Dr. Axel Theimer, director of the university’s men’s chorus.
In the email, her father explained the chorus would be on tour and could pass through Waupaca from Chicago.
The men’s chorus left campus on Feb. 26 and will perform in Illinois, Ohio, Michigan and Missouri, followed by concerts in Wisconsin and Minnesota. The group’s tour will end with a home concert on March 10.
“So, he wanted to know if we would host a concert. It’s always fun to play up my daddy connection,” Morrissey said. “The original plan was to do a concert. The more we talked, it became apparent it would be beneficial to include as many students as possible.”
Waupaca High School has a men’s choir. It is directed by choral instructor Dan Wolfgram and will sing one song with the university men’s chorus.
Morrissey directs a women’s choir at WHS. That group will sing two songs with the men’s chorus from Saint John’s.
“I think the best part for me is the men in our department will get to sing with men who have developed voices,” she said, while the women will have the opportunity to sing as part of a mixed choir.
Waupaca’s two choral groups are working on the songs they will sing, and on the day of the event, will arrive at WHS in mid afternoon to set everything up for the concert.
The men’s chorus will arrive at 4 p.m. There will be rehearsals and a potluck for the university and high school students who will be involved in the concert. After the concert, the students from Saint John’s will stay with area host families and be back on the road by 8 a.m. the next day.
For some of the choral students, it will not be their first experience working with Theimer.
When WHS hosted last year’s conference Honors Choir, Theimer was the clinician.
“And, he wrote a song for (the) Chamber (group) for New York,” Morrissey said, referring to last spring’s choral trip to New York City.
Prior to teaching at WHS, Morrissey taught at Pacelli High School, in Stevens Point. During her tenure there, her chamber group, along with a group from Stevens Point Area Senior High School, traveled to Collegeville, Minn., together, where they worked with Theimer for several hours.
“It was kind of a choir retreat,” she said.
The students also toured both Saint John’s University and the College of Saint Benedict.
Theimer is in his 45th year on the music faculty at St. John’s University and the College of St. Benedict.
A native of Austria, he was a member of the Vienna Boys Choir. Theimer received much of his training in Vienna, continued his studies at Saint John’s University and completed graduate degrees at the University of Minnesota.
He is an active recitalist, has presented master classes, workshops and seminars for state, regional, national and international music conventions and conferences and has conducted All State Choirs, Choral Festivals and Honor Choirs throughout the United States and the Far East.
Theimer also directs the CSB/SJU Chamber Choir and teaches choral conducting and vocal pedagogy.
In addition to his professional activities at SJU and CSB, he is the founder and music director of Kantorei, a Twin Cities choral ensemble, of Amadeus Chamber Symphony, a chamber orchestra for Central Minnesota musicians and audiences, and is the music director of the National Catholic Youth Choir. He is on the faculty, and is currently executive director of The VoiceCare Network.
In 2001, he received the MN-ACDA Choir Director of the Year Award and, in 2004, was inducted to the Minnesota Music Educators Association’s “MMEA Hall of Fame.” He is the 2011 recipient of the ACDA-MN F. Melius Christiansen Lifetime Achievement Award.
The Saint John’s University Men’s Chorus was organized in 1948 by Fr. Bartholomew Sayles, OSB, a monk of St. John’s Abbey. The 36 singers in the choir represent a variety of musical backgrounds, talents and choral experiences.
“My dad does wonderful things with choirs.” Morrissey said. “I have grown up partial to the sound of a men’s choir. As much as I love mixed and women (choirs), there’s nothing like a bunch of men who can sing well and sing because they love it.”
She said the March 8 concert will include classical and traditional pieces and also fun ones.
“I’m very excited,” Morrissey said.
She will be able to show her students the inspiration behind her profession.
“They’ll learn a lot from him,” Morrissey said. “He’s a great resource and a great listener and very opinionated and honest. He’s always been very supportive of my career in music.”