I wanted to take a moment and write about the choir program at Bemidji State University, in Bemidji, Minnesota. Over a decade ago, Dr. P. Bradley Logan was hired to be the director of choirs at that institution. Minnesota is an epicenter of the choral universe, with the Lutheran choral triumvirate of St. Olaf College, Luther College, and Concordia College within or near the borders of the state. There’s really no surprise that a World Choral Symposium was held in the state, or that we have many active members in the American Choral Directors Association. The strong Lutheran tradition has resulted in many other strong programs at all levels of education.
One of Dr. Logan’s early decisions was to record his choir and to ship a CD to every high school director in the state. Bemidji has been doing so for twelve years. The most recent CD was released this past fall, and many of the recordings can be listened to on their website. It can be enjoyable to also pay attention to the changes in the program over the years.
Although I personally would send directors an e-mail (purchasing the e-mail lists from the state Music associations in the area, including the MMEA, IMEA, and WMEA) containing a download link to all the songs instead of a CD, I think the CD mailings are a fantastic idea. First, directors will listen to the CDs, just out of curiosity. In doing so, your collegiate program is recognized. Second, it brings a world of new literature to directors across the state. I’ve always noted that Dr. Logan has been a champion for both new composers as well as relatively obscure composers (particularly with his Chamber Choir). And third, when students are considering colleges, it is nice to be able to share recordings of particular choir programs with them so they know what they are facing.
Since our new high school opened in 2009, it was not on the Bemidji Choir’s mailing list for the past three years. I realized this when one of my colleagues mentioned that he had received their latest CD. and Dr. Logan was kind enough to send the latest three CDs. The CDs are even more appreciated because one of my former students (and one of my past All-State members) has been a member of the Bemidji Choir and Chamber Choir, and I look forward to hearing his choirs, too.
Are you a collegiate director? Have you considered distributing your recordings? They might be worth more to the profession than you can imagine.