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VCSU to Host Choral & Solo Song Festival

Jan 30, 2023

Choral and Solo Song Festival held at the brand-new Center for the Arts March 3 & 4, 2023

High school vocalists are invited to join the Music Department at VCSU for a festival designed to prepare students for Solo and Ensemble Contests. The festival will provide high school students with the opportunity to work on solo repertoire through lessons and masterclasses with three clinicians while developing their skills as a choral singer with VCSU’s Concert Choir. Five masterclass participants will be selected to perform their prepared solo for the final Festival Concert. Registration is $20 per student and the registration deadline is Feb. 15, 2023.

What will I get out of the experience?  Improved vocal technique – both as a soloist and as a choral artist, individual feedback from vocal experts, collegiate-level choir experience.


Dr. Kathryn Rolf is a conductor, educator, and church musician. She serves on the faculty of Valley City State University as Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor. Her work at VCSU includes directing Concert Choir and University Singers and teaching courses in conducting and aural skills. Dr. Rolf is the founding conductor and artistic director of the Fargo-Moorhead Bach Choir, which began in 2020. The mission of the choir is to bring J. S. Bach’s music and the message it artfully communicates to the F-M area. Dr. Rolf is the Director of Parish Music at Immanuel Lutheran Church where she directs the choir, plays organ, and coordinates solos and ensembles.

Prior to her appointment at VCSU, Dr. Rolf served as adjunct faculty at North Dakota State University, where she also received her Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees in Choral Conducting. At NDSU she studied with Jo Ann Miller and Michael Weber. Dr. Rolf graduated summa cum laude from Concordia University, St. Paul, MN, with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Church Music with concentrations in Choral Conducting and Organ. While at Concordia, she studied conducting with David Mennicke and received the Pro Artibus Award in Music. At Bethel University in St. Paul, she completed a graduate-level Certificate in Applied Ethnomusicology.

Dr. Stephen Cunningham is a bass-baritone from Corpus Christi, TX. He serves on the faculty of Valley City State University as Assistant Professor in Voice. He has performed lead roles with Minnesota Opera, Florentine Opera, La Musica Lirica, Opera Orvieto, Journey North Opera Company, the Kurt Weill Honorarium, Twin Cities Community Outreach Opera, Mill City Summer Opera, the University of Minnesota Opera Program, Oklahoma State University Opera Program, and the University of North Texas Opera Program. He has also performed as soloist with Kenwood Symphony Orchestra, St. Rita Catholic Church Performance Series, Graceland University, and University of Minnesota Summer Community Choir. 

Stephen premiered the roles of Prince Abdul and the Captain in Sister Carrie with Florentine Opera in 2016, available from Naxos Records. He also premiered the role of Secretary of Defense in The Manchurian Candidate with Minnesota Opera in 2015. His other operatic roles include: Benoît in La bohème, Don Magnifico in La Cenerentola, Jimmy in Mahagonny Singspiel,  The Bonze in Madama Butterfly, Jimmy in Mahagonny Songspiel, Don Annibale in Il Campanello, Escamillo in Carmen, Bottom in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Don Alfonso in Cosi fan tutte and Commendatore in Don Giovanni, as well as the titles roles in Falstaff, Gianni Schicchi and Le Nozze di Figaro. Stephen has workshopped numerous new operas including The Shining, The Manchurian Candidate, Memory Boy and Doubt with Minnesota Opera, Sister Carrie and Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead with the University of Minnesota, as well as Sister Carrie with Florentine Opera. He holds a performance and pedagogy degree from Oklahoma State University and a vocal performance degree from the University of North Texas.


Ariel Wilberg, soprano and native Wisconsinite, received her Bachelor of Music degree in Voice Performance from the University of Wisconsin – Whitewater. She completed a Masters of Music in Voice Performance from the University of Minnesota – Twin Cities in May 2016. Currently, she is working towards completing her Doctor of Music degree in Voice Performance under the guidance of John De Haan at the University of Minnesota. Ms. Wilberg has a lengthy history of performance in opera, classical solo, music theater, and vocal jazz. Some of her most notable roles include, Cio-Cio San (Madama Butterfly), Madam Goldentrill (The Impresario), Poppea (The Coronation of Poppea), Lily St. Regis (Annie), and Rapunzel (Into the Woods). Ms. Wilberg has also been involved in performing many choral world premieres, both international and domestic. Ms. Wilberg is a Schullster Fellowship recipient at the University of Minnesota and is a graduate of Minnesota Opera’s ECCO program. In 2022, Ms. Wilberg toured to Norway and Washington, DC to premiere a new work composed for National Refugee Day. She currently works as a Choral Director at the International School of Minnesota in Eden Prairie, MN.

Cassandra McNally-Morgan, mezzo-soprano, hails from the University of Northern Iowa, where she completed both her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in vocal performance. She has sung throughout the Twin Cities, MN, with companies such as Minnesota Opera and Mill City Opera. Her favorite roles include Carmen in La Tragedie de Carmen, Elizabeth in The Crucible, and The Witch in Into the Woods. Currently, Mrs. McNally-Morgan works as Senior High Youth Director, Technical Director, and Outreach and Production Coordinator at Mount Cavalry Lutheran Church in Excelsior, Minnesota.

Festival Schedule* 

Friday, March 3* 

  • 11:30am – Registration
  • 12:00pm – Rehearsal
  • 1:00pm – Rehearsals, Voice Lessons, and Masterclasses
  • 5:15pm – Dinner (on your own)
  • 7:30pm – VCSU Choir Concert feat. Guest Clinicians
    • * Please eat lunch before you arrive. Snacks will be provided throughout the afternoon.

Saturday, March 4

  • 9:00am – Warmups, Rehearsals, Voice Lessons, and Masterclass
  • 11:30am – Lunch (on your own)
  • 12:30pm – Rehearsal, Voice Lessons
  • 1:30pm – Solo Coachings for Festival Concert & Campus Tour
  • 3:00pm – Choral and Solo Song Festival Concert feat. Selected HS Soloists
  • 4:00pm – Farewell

Places to stay