Kvams, the first couple of Rochester choral arts, stepping down

Apr. 30—ROCHESTER — Rick and Jan Kvam are enjoying a couple weeks of curtain calls as they close out more than 50 combined years leading Southeast Minnesota choral arts organizations.

The two are retiring at the conclusion of this season's Honors Choir of Southeast Minnesota 2023-2024 season.

The two — Rick, as conductor and Jan on piano — will lead one last Honors Choir concert, aptly titled "Ovation," Sunday, May 19, at Bethel Lutheran Church.

The honors choir has been the catalyst for generations of singers' and musicians' interest in singing and has led alumni to careers in the choral arts.

Scott Gunderson, a 1999 Honors Choir graduate later became a member of the Brigham Young University Concert Choir. He said the Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota gave him the experience, confidence and training that helped him succeed in auditions.

Rick Kvam is also the founder, artistic director and choir conductor of the Rochester Choral Arts Ensemble. He'll lead one last weekend of performances May 4-5 at Christ United Methodist Church. Rick founded the Choral Arts Ensemble as the Rochester Men's Cappella in 1983. The group grew to become the Choral Arts Ensemble in 1985.

For this final choral arts concert, Kvam chose some of his favorite pieces for the group to perform. The ensemble will also premiere a piece called "The Once Invisible Garden," composed by Dale Trumbore and commissioned by Choral Arts Ensemble in honor of the retiring couple.

The couple said they're planning to step away for a while, but don't plan to stay away from the arts in Southeast Minnesota.

For now, they look forward to a well-earned break, they said following the Spring Finale concert at Bethel Lutheran Church Sunday, April 28.

"We'll do something, but we'll take a break first," Rick Kvam said. "It's a lot of Tuesdays and it's a lot of Sundays."

Rick Kvam founded Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota in 1992. Initially, it was a single high school ensemble and has since grown to become one of the largest youth choral programs in Minnesota.

Jan Kvam is also retiring after serving as the Treble Choir and Concert Choir pianist for more than two decades. She said she is looking forward to having more free time and traveling overseas and visiting family.

Rick Kvam said it's too early to tell how they'll contribute to performing arts, but said for now, it's time to step back.

The Ovation performance will feature the Concert Choir ensemble made up of students in grades 10-12 with encore pieces from the season along with solo, small group and instrumental performances.

Ryan Deignan has been selected to be the new artistic director for Choral Arts Ensemble and Honors Choirs of Southeast Minnesota. Deignan will join both organizations in July.

What: What's Past is Prologue Concert

When: 7 p.m., Saturday, May 4; 3 p.m., Sunday, May 5.

Where: Christ United Methodist Church, 400 Fifth Ave. SW.

What: "Ovation" Concert

When: 6 p.m., Sunday, May 19.

Where: Bethel Lutheran Church, 810 Third Ave. SE.