Artistic Staff

Michael Jeffrey

Artistic Director, Conductor of Concert Choir

Michael JeffreyMichael Jeffrey is the artistic director of the Northfield Youth Choirs where he conducts the Concert Choir. He also teaches at Pine Island Middle and High School where he conducts five curricular choirs including grades 5-12, fifth grade music, and Pinely Tuned, an auditioned, extra-curricular a cappella ensemble.

Prior to teaching in Pine Island, Michael directed the Treble Choir of the Northfield Youth Choirs and worked as operations manager for the organization. He also served as musical assistant to Dr. Angela Broeker and substitute conductor of the Chamber Singers at the University of St. Thomas, where he helped to prepare the choir for its performance at the 2014 North Central Division ACDA Conference. From 2013-2017, Michael was director of the Academy of Voices, a St. Paul-based, a cappella chamber choir.

Michael is an active vocalist in the choral community of the Twin Cities. Recently he served as Tenor Section Leader for Magnum Chorum, an auditioned 60-voice choir established in the a cappella choral tradition of St. Olaf College. He worked as a choral scholar for Pilgrim Lutheran Church in St. Paul, and he has also conducted and sings tenor with the Pop-Up Choir, a project choir based in Minneapolis.

Michael earned his M.A. in Teaching Music from the University of St. Thomas and his B.A. in Music, magna cum laude, from St. Olaf College. Additionally, he completed his Level 1 Kodály Certification through the Kodály Institute of the University of St. Thomas. He has studied conducting with Dr. Angela Broeker, Dr. Anton Armstrong, Dr. Christopher Aspaas, and Dr. Timothy Mahr.

Michael is a member of the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), Minnesota Choral Director’s Association (ACDA-MN), and Pi Kappa Lambda (National Music Honor Society).

Dr. Anton Armstrong

Principal Conductor of the Troubadours

Dr. Anton Armstrong Anton Armstrong, Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College, became the fourth conductor of the St. Olaf Choir in 1990 after ten years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he had served on the faculty of Calvin College and led the Calvin College Alumni Choir, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the St. Cecilia Youth Chorale. He is a graduate of St. Olaf College and earned advanced degrees at the University of Illinois and Michigan State University. He is editor of a multicultural choral series for Earthsongs Publications and co-editor (with John Ferguson) of the revised St. Olaf Choral Series for Augsburg Fortress Publishers. In June 1998, he began his tenure as founding conductor of the Oregon Bach Festival Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy. He has conducted the Troubadours, a 25-voice boys ensemble of the Northfield Youth Choirs since 1991.

During 2016-17 season, Dr. Armstrong will serve as the President of the Choral Jury (the only non-Korean juror) for the Busan International Choral Festival, Busan, The Republic of Korea. He has been selected as Conductor of the 2016 NAfME National Honor Choir in Texas, as well as Conductor of the 2017 Wyoming All-State Mixed Choir and the 2017 NAfME All Northwest Mixed Choir. Additionally, he will lead choral festivals at Carnegie Hall, New York; Yale University; Segerstrom Center for the Arts, Costa Mesa, CA; and Davies Symphony Hall San Francisco. Other guest conducting/lecturing engagements in 2016-2017 include appearances in Minnesota, New Jersey, Colorado, and Pennsylvania.

In January 2006, Baylor University selected Anton Armstrong from a field of 118 distinguished nominees to receive the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching. He spent February-June 2007 in residency at Baylor University as a visiting professor. In March 2007 Anton Armstrong was the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the American Boychoir School and in October 2009 he received The Distinguished Alumni Award from Michigan State University. In June 2013 Dr. Armstrong received the Saltzman Award from the Oregon Bach Festival. The festival’s highest honor, the Saltzman Award is bestowed upon individuals who have provided exceptional levels of leadership to the organization. In the Fall of 2014, The St. Olaf Choir and Dr. Armstrong received a Regional Emmy for the PBS television program Christmas in Norway with The St. Olaf Choir.

Jonah Heinen

Conductor of Anima

Jonah Heinen is the 9-12 choral director at Faribault High School in Faribault, Minnesota. A native of Sauk Rapids, Minnesota, Jonah graduated with high distinction from the University of Minnesota Twin Cities in vocal music education. Prior to Faribault, Jonah was the Assistant Conductor of the South Metro Chorale in Prior Lake and Choral Scholar at Gethsemane Episcopal Church in Minneapolis.

As a tenor, he has sung with the University of Minnesota Singers, the Radio Choir from American Public Media, the Summer Singers, the Gethsemane Choir, MPLS (imPulse), Singers in Accord, and the Minnesota Oratorio Society. An active member of the American Choral Director’s Association, Jonah has been invited to conduct in master classes in Minnesota and Seattle, Washington. Outside of school he enjoys cooking, reading, biking, and traveling.

Dr. Therees Hibbard

Conductor of the Chorale

Dr. Therees Hibbard Therees Tkach Hibbard serves as the director of the Manitou Singers and St. Olaf Chamber Singers. She is presently an Associate Professor of Music at St. Olaf College where she teaches choral conducting, choral literature, and voice. She holds a bachelor of music honors degree in voice and music education from Longwood University, Virginia; a master of music degree in voice and choral conducting from Colorado State University; and a doctor of musical arts degree in choral conducting and vocal music education from the University of Oregon School of Music.

She has conducted choirs ranging from young children to professional singers; and has served as adjudicator, workshop leader, and guest conductor for numerous choral organizations throughout Great Britain, Europe and North America; as well as Greece, Hong Kong and Muscat, Oman. Dr. Hibbard has worked as a choral conductor, singing tutor and senior lecturer at several United Kingdom colleges and universities in the London area including the London College of Music, the Royal College of Music Junior Department, and Roehampton University where she served as Programme Convener for the M.A. in choral music education, establishing the first BBC Singers Conducting Master Class Residency program. She has also served as a tutor for the Choral Conductors Training Course for the Association of British Choral Directors that she helped develop and implement throughout the United Kingdom. Dr. Hibbard was the artistic director of the Choir and Chamber Choir of the Imperial College of Science, Technology and Medicine in London; both non-audition ensembles made up of students, faculty, staff, and alumni who presented three major choral/orchestral concerts each year. Highlight performances have included the Bach “St. John Passion” and B Minor Mass, Requiems of Brahms, Mozart, and Verdi, Elgar’s “The Dream of Gerontius,” Rachmaninoff’s Vespers, and Fanshawe’s African Sanctus, as well as premiering a variety of new compositions and chamber works during her eight years of tenure with the choirs.

Her work as a movement specialist in the training of choral singers has created unique opportunities for her to work with choirs and conductors from around the world. Her research on enhancing choral performance through movement training has led to the development of a comprehensive choral education philosophy, most clearly demonstrated through her work with a broad range of vocal ensembles including the Oregon Bach Festival’s Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy, The Animato Choir of Lesvos, Greece, and The American Boychoir. In addition to her work as a conductor, she has also performed professionally as both vocal soloist and chorus member in London and the United States. She has sung for composers and conductors such as Aaron Copland, Helmuth Rilling, Mistlav Rostropovich, and Sir David Willcocks; and has had the opportunity to premiere works by Arvo Pärt, Krystof Penderecki, and a vocal chamber piece by Shostakovich conducted by Rostropovich in Carnegie Hall. She has been a member of the Oregon Bach Festival Berwick Chorus for many years, and while under the direction of Helmuth Rilling, were recipients of the Grammy award in 2000 for their performance of CREDO by Penderecki. Prior to her appointment to the St. Olaf faculty, she served for ten years as Associate Director of Choral Activities at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Nicole Thietje

Conductor of the Treble Choir

Nicole Thietje is Choral Director at New Prague High School. She directs four curricular choirs and three extra-curricular groups, including an auditioned, competitive show choir. She is also Music Director and Choreographer for the musical at NPHS. Prior to teaching at the high school, she taught choir at New Prague Middle School and general music and choir at Raven Stream Elementary in New Prague.

She is a native of Louisiana and spent some of her youth in Florida, graduating from high school in Pensacola. After graduation, she spent three years in the performing and outreach group called The Young Americans, teaching and traveling on five national and international music outreach tours, including tours in the U.S., Germany, Luxembourg, and Japan. She then received her Bachelors of Arts in Music Teaching/Performance from the University of West Florida. Nicole is currently studying choral music education at the University of St. Thomas in the Masters of Music Education Program.

Nicole is an active choral musician and has sung in a variety of choirs. She has served as section leader at the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart in Pensacola, FL and at the Cathedral of St. Paul in St. Paul, MN. She is a member of the Oratorio Society of MN in St. Paul, MN and the American Choral Director’s Association of MN. She lives in New Prague with her husband, three children, and two dogs.

Ann C. Kay

Conductor of the Junior Singers and Poco a Poco

Ann_Kay_0142_WEBSIZEAnn C. Kay is a music education consultant at the Center for Lifelong Music Making, a business she started with the goal of launching initiatives to get the population making music, such as the Great American Singing Challenge that uses software to help children learn to sing in tune, and the Teacher-to-Teacher Mentorship Program, a free program that pairs retired expert teachers with new music teachers. She recently co-founded The Rock ‘n’ Read Project, a nonprofit dedicated to helping children read at grade level through singing that was awarded $100,000 by the MN legislature in 2016 to run a state pilot in schools with software that uses singing to boost reading. Ann also teaches courses for classroom teachers called “Want to Teach Reading and Math? Try Singing!” with Dr. Elizabeth Olson based on Olson’s Affirming Parallel Concepts™ model.

Ann holds a bachelor of music education degree from Lawrence University and a master of arts in liberal studies with Kodály emphasis from Hamline University. Formerly, she taught elementary and junior high music, and was associate director of graduate music education at the University of St. Thomas where she founded and directed the Kodály certification program for music teachers. She also founded the Kodály Chapter of Minnesota, and served as president of the Midwest Kodály Music Educators and the national Organization of American Kodály Educators. Ann has presented over one hundred workshops for music teachers in the U.S. and Taiwan. She loves to play competitive women’s doubles tennis, bike, read, and sing in her church choir.

Nathan Berthelsen

Intern Conductor of the Troubadours

Nathan Berthelsen

Nathan is a Senior Music Education major at St. Olaf College. He is a proud alumni of Northfield Youth Choirs, having participated for twelve years. This year he serves as the president of the St. Olaf Choir where he has been a proud member since his sophomore year. He also serves as a leader of the St. Olaf chapter of American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), and the Education Minnesota Student Program (EMSP) as the Fine Arts representative. After graduation, Nathan hopes to find a job teaching high school music and choir.

Mary Carpenter Davis

Accompanist for Junior Singers, Treble Choir, Anima, and Concert Choir

Mary Carpenter Davis, composer in residence and accompanist for Junior Singers, Treble Choir, Anima and the Concert Choir, is in her 19th season with the Northfield Youth Choirs. In addition to her work with young singers, she is the performance librarian at St. Olaf College, is active as a piano teacher, accompanist and church musician.

Compositions written for and inspired by the Northfield Youth Choirs include:

Daffodils (2003), Sicilian Lullaby (2004), Emergence (2004), I Will (2005), Froggy (2006), Cherokee Blessing (2006), Whirligig! (2007), Sussex Carol (2007), A Christmas Folk Song (2007), Sea Fever (2009), Cats According to Sark (2010), Get on Board, Little Children (2013)

Shana Hodel

Accompanist for Chorale

Shana HodelWith a background in piano pedagogy, Shana now works as a teacher at Montessori Children’s House in Northfield and is the Children’s Music Director at First United Church of Christ. She has enjoyed playing for several different NYC choirs over the years.

Thomas Pearson

Accompanist for the Troubadours

Thomas PearsonThomas Pearson is a junior piano performance major at St. Olaf College. He has performed as a soloist, winning the Schubert Club’s Bruce P. Carlson Scholarship Competition, 18-college senior division in 2016. He also frequently accompanies across campus. He has performed as member of the St. Olaf Choir, Ole Vocal Jazz, and an on-campus jazz quintet.