Tonya Barnes, a native of Central Minnesota, has been teaching vocal music for the past ten years. She received her degree in Vocal Music Education from Cornell College in 2003 and went on to teach MS and HS in the North-Linn Community School district in Iowa. While teaching at this small school, she helped the students earn the school's first Division 1 rating in music. Wanting to be closer to home, Tonya moved back to Minnesota and taught HS choir at St. Francis where she was responsible for the school's yearly Madrigal Dinners and Vocal Direction of the school musical. Currently, she is the vocal instructor for North Branch High School. She maintains her own private voice studio in her home in Coon Rapids. She continues to perform as a singer in the Northern Lights Chorale, where she serves as Soprano Section Leader, Marketing Chair and soloist. She loves spending time with her husband, Ben, and their two children.
In spring of 2007, David Clarke retired as director of the Chorale. Mark Potvin, Vocal Music Instructor at Princeton High School, accepted the position of Artistic Director of the Chorale from 2007-2014. In Fall of 2014 season Joseph Osowski, Director of Choirs at St Michael - Albertville High School became our new Artistic Director and remained with the organization until Spring of 2017. The Chorale welcomes Charlie Moe, the new Vocal Music Instructor at Princeton High School as our new Artistic Director for the 2017-2018 season.
Throughout the years the Chorale performed in several Cities in East Central Minnesota, and the Twin Cities. We performed at regional tours in Duluth, Grand Forks, Eau Claire, La Crosse, Rochester, Marshall, and other Minnesota towns. The Chorale performed at the State Convention of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), as well as the ACDA Regional Convention in Lincoln, NE. Locally we give three concerts per season Christmas, mid-winter and spring.
The Chorale founded Unum Vox in 2010, an audition only honors choir that draws members from high schools across East Central Minnesota. Unum Vox and ECMC appear together during our concert season; the Unum Vox director is Tonya Barnes who also heads the choral program at North Branch Area High School.
Our repertoire includes everything from classical renaissance to contemporary choral selections and oratorios, to folk songs and spirituals, as well as Broadway and pops arrangements.
Traditionally, we invite local high school choirs to join us and Unum Vox at our Scholarship Concert in February, providing a unique experience for area high school singers.
After seven years of excellent leadership and outstanding choral programs, Mark Potvin retired from the Chorale Artistic Director position. We thank him for his contributions to the Chorale and are excited to begin the 2014-2015 concert season under the capable baton of Joseph Osowski.
In spring of 2010, ECMC applied for and received one of the inaugural Arts and Cultural Heritage ("Legacy") grants to form Unum Vox, a regional honor choir for students in schools that service Chisago, Isanti, Kanabec, Mille Lacs, and Pine counties. Unum Vox (translated as "one Voice" and pronounced "oonoom vocks") is an elite choir designed to enrich the typical high school choir experience by allowing students from various schools to excel in a common pursuit of quality singing. The hope of the East Central Minnesota Chorale is to solicit the participation of serious 10-12 grade choral students from area schools to sing in an ensemble whose artistic capabilities cater to their desire to perform at the highest level possible. Unum Vox engages singers in conversations about choral literature, teaches healthy singing, and introduces students to music from a diverse set of world cultures. Student singers take the skills and experiences from weekly rehearsals home to share with their peers in the hopes of enhancing their leadership in their high school ensembles.
Mary Kay O'Neill earned her B. A. Degree from Concordia College, Moorhead, MN in elementary education and music, and an M. F. A. degree from University of Minnesota in organ performance and piano pedagogy. She has studied organ with Ruth Berge, Stephen Gabrielsen, and Heinrich Fleischer. Post-graduate piano study was with Celeste O'Brien at Augsburg College for five years, during which time she performed three recitals. Mary Kay is the organist, accompanist, and handbell choir director for Cambridge Lutheran Church, Cambridge, MN, a position she has held since 1987. She is a member of the Twin Cities Area Suzuki Piano Teachers Guild, having served as president for two years. As a certified Suzuki Piano teacher, she maintains a private studio in Cambridge, MN.
David Clarke founded the East Central Minnesota Chorale in 1980. Clarke was choral director at Cambridge High School, and after leaving Cambridge, became Director of Music at Normandale Lutheran Church in Edina. Dr. Dennis Port, now conductor of the Bethel University Choir, also served as director for a few years. Over 150 East Central Minnesota residents have been members of the Chorale. Some of our members have been involved since the Chorale's first year.
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