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Festival of Music Announces Schedule of concerts for 2017-2018 Season

Festival of Music Announces Schedule of concerts for 2017-2018 Season

 October 15, 2017 4:00 p.m.


LYRIC BARITONE                                            

As Executive and Artistic Director of Opera Orlando, Gabriel Preisser serves the company in areas of growth and development, artistic vision and planning, and administration. He draws from performance experience in over 40 operatic and music theatre roles. Preisser graduated from Florida State University in Vocal Performance and Business and completed a Master’s degree in Voice at the University of Houston.

Preisser has been praised for his beautiful, luscious baritone and his compelling, commanding stage presence.   He has received rave reviews for his performance of Lt. Gordon in Kevin Putz’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Silent Night with Minnesota Opera.

This season, Mr. Preisser reprises the role of Lt. Gordon (Silent Night) in his Michigan Opera Theatre début.  He will sing Maximilian (Candide) with Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra,  Mercutio (Roméo et Juliette) and Dandini (La Cenerentola) with Opera Tampa. He will also sing the title role in Don Giovanni with Opera Orlando and Skylark Opera,  narrate HK Gruber’s Frankenstein and sing the baritone solo in Bach’s St. Matthew Passion with Colorado Symphony.

Outside of his performing career, Mr. Preisser co-founded Angels & Demons Entertainment, an opera/music theater production company focusing on semi-staged and site-specific opera and music theater presentations. He currently lives in Winter Garden, FL with his wife and son.


November 19, 2017 4:00 p.m.



Rachel Laurin was born in St-Benoît des Deux-Montagnes, Québec, Canada. She was Associate Organist at St-Joseph’s Oratory, Montreal (1986-2002) and Titular Organist at Notre Dame Cathedral, Ottawa (2002-2006). She now devotes herself to composition, recitals, master-classes and lectures.

Rachel Laurin has performed organ recitals in major cities in Canada, the United States and Europe. Well known as an improviser, she has had many opportunities to teach this art in schools, workshops, and academies across Canada and USA. She has been an Associate Composer of the Canadian Music Centre since 1989 and “House Composer” at Wayne Leupold Editions since 2006. She has composed more than a hundred works for various solo instruments, voice, instrumental ensembles, choir, and orchestra, including a piano Concerto and a Concerto for organ, string orchestra and timpani. Her compositions are recognized internationally and have been performed and recorded on the five continents. She has won many awards, including the “Prix Conrad-Letendre,” the Holtkamp-AGO Composition Award, and first prize in the Marilyn Mason New Organ Music Competition. A feature-length program devoted to her work as a composer and organist, titled “Rachel’s Children”, was broadcast by American Public Media’s PIPEDREAMS presented by Michael Barone in October 2012. Laurin composes almost exclusively on commissions and always has a work in progress.

Rachel Laurin has been a member of the “Comité d’Honneur de la Fédération Francophone des Amis de l’Orgue” (FFAO) since 2016.


February 11, 2018 4:00 p.m.



Born in Yerevan, Armenia, Dr. Grigor Khachatryan graduated from Barsej Kanachyan’s Music School of Yereva. Shortly thereafter, Dr.Khachatryan moved to the United States and continued his education in musical studies at Indiana University, earning degrees in Piano Performance, Composition and Music Theory. During his graduate studies, he served as Junior Faculty of Piano at the Jacobs School of Music, where he taught undergraduate and graduate piano courses.  Recent highlights include Dr. Khachatryan’s debut at Carnegie Hall, supported by the Armenian General Benevolent Union, as well as a concert tour with the Concordia Symphony Orchestra. Dr. Khachatryan is now working on recording and publishing two piano sonatas and is also on faculty at the Northern Lights Music Festival.  Dr. Khachatryan is equally passionate about composing new music and educating young musical minds at Concordia College, where he serves as Assistant Professor of Piano.

Dr. Dina Maria Neglia-Khachatryan earned her Doctorate in Violin Performance at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music and enjoys a multifaceted musical career.  Dedicated equally to teaching, scholarship, and performance, Dr. Neglia-Khachatryan has taught at Indiana University’s Jacobs School of Music, Vincennes University and North Dakota State University.  As a performer, Dr. Neglia-Khachatryan is immersed in a variety of musical mediums.  She has been featured on MPR Classical Radio and has appeared as a soloist and chamber musician throughout the United States and Europe.  She regularly performs with her husband, Dr. Grigor Khachatryan, as a member of Duo Neglia-Khachatryan.


March 18, 2018 4:00 p.m.



The Wartburg College Castle Singers have been hailed as a model of musicianship, performing a wide variety of choral literature with flexibility, stamina, and dramatic flair.  Under the direction of Dr. Nicki Bakko Toliver, this chamber ensemble sings everything from Byrd to the Beatles and beyond.  Comprised of advanced vocalists who are dedicated to exploring challenging choral literature, the Castle Singers enjoy performing both on and off campus throughout the academic year.

For the second year in a row, the Castle Singers will be joined by Wartburg’s chamber orchestra Kammerstreicher (in German, literally “chamber strings”).  This string ensemble’s repertoire is equally as eclectic as the Castle Singers, playing traditional music by classical giants like Mozart, Beethoven, and Bach, as well as arrangements of songs by contemporary artists, such as Radiohead.  Kammerstreicher’s conductor, Dr. Jacob Tews, is also a gifted composer, regularly writing music for his ensembles in addition to many other music ensembles at Wartburg.

April 15, 2017 4:00 p.m.



Lee Afdahl is Director of Music and Organist at First Presbyterian Church of Rochester, Minnesota, a position he has held since 1991. A graduate of Luther College, Decorah, IA, Lee is a church musician with forty years of experience in leading choral and handbell ensembles in Michigan and Minnesota.  Currently he and his part- time music assistant are responsible for leading four vocal and three handbell choirs, an elementary instrumental program, and a church orchestra.  He also advises the church’s annual concert series.  Lee Afdahl is frequently a conductor and clinician for handbell conference, choral workshops, and church music conferences internationally.  He has conducted festival conferences for the Handbell Musicians of America (HMA) at the local, area, and national levels.  He has also conducted handbell classes of American Guild of Organists, Fellowship of United Methodists and international handbell events in England, Japan, South Korea and Australia.  Mr. Afdahl is the immediate Past President of the Handbell Musicians of America.  He represented the organization as a conductor at the International Handbell Symposia in Australia, England and South Korea.  Lee has taught intermediate and advanced conducting for HMA Seminars and currently teaches conducting for certification.  Lee is an active organ recitalist and published composer and arranger of handbell, instrumental, and choral music with over seventy compositions and arrangements in print.  Joining Lee this season will be Christopher Boswell, handbells; Paul Kosower, cello; Jan Matson, piano; Mary Schneekloth, harp and Timothy Wells, basson.


Lenten Organ Recital Series 2018

Noon-day thirty minute recitals, 12:15-12:45 PM

February 21, 2018

Jeffrey Daehn, freelance organist, Rochester, MN

February 28, 2018

Sebastian Modarelli, organist, Church of St. John the Evangelist, Rochester, MN

March 7, 2018

Paul Kosower, freelance organist, Eau Claire, WI

March 14 2018

Ceri Benson, organist, St Luke’s Episcopal Church, Rochester, MN

March 21, 2018

Lois Marsh,  freelance organist, Rochester, MN