Lakeland adds Frauenchor leadership

Brittany Beckmann, Staff Reporter

Last year, Frauenchor, Lakeland College’s all women’s choir, underwent changes in command.

Lakeland College has hired Lanie Knutson as the choral conductor for Frauenchor and rehired Olga Rua as the accompanist.

Knutson completed her undergraduate with a degree in Choral and Instrumental Education at Dordt College, of which ironically is a small college in the midst of cornfields in Iowa. She then went on to complete her Master’s at the University of Minnesota with a degree in Choral Conducting.

“If I could be a full-time student, I would,” Knutson says.

Her love for education is apparent through her career as a choral conductor for multiple schools. Knutson has conducted the middle school choirs at Milwaukee Montessori, along with various church choirs.

In addition to conducting Frauenchor and providing applied voice lessons at Lakeland, Knutson currently conducts sixth to eighth grade choirs at Mother of Good Council and Waukesha Catholic Middle School. She is also the choral conductor for the forth to seventh grade Milwaukee community choir.

Despite the fact that a lot of Knutson’s conducting experience comes from middle schools and churches, she says, “Since undergrad I’ve wanted to teach at a college. I like that the music here can be more challenging.”

Lakeland College’s Frauenchor is Knutson’s first time professionally conducting a choir completely comprised of women.

“I like that I can tailor my teaching to the development of the female voice,” Knutson says.

Ironically, this will be Knutson’s first year singing in an all women’s choir with Milwaukee Choral Artists.

“I’m a choral singer,” Knutson says. “I like being with people and singing in choirs.”

Knutson was officially hired to conduct Frauenchor and teach applied voice lessons a mere two weeks before the beginning of the 2012 fall semester and hadn’t even met with the accompanist, Dr. Olga Rua, until the first day of class.

In addition to conducting a plethora of choirs, performing in one, and teaching private voice lessons, Knutson likes to spend what little free time she has cooking, baking, reading, attending concerts, and being outside.

As far as her Frauenchor students are concerned, Rachel Hakala, sophomore vocal performance major, says, “I absolutely love her as a Frauenchor conductor; she knows what she’s doing.”

Tia Pribbernow, sophomore choral and general music education major, says, “She provides a positive reinforcement.”

Knutson currently resides in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, where she lives with her husband, Tim, and two sons, Peter and Michael.

In addition to hiring Knutson this year, Lakeland College hired Dr. Olga Rua to act as an adjunct professor in the music department at the beginning fall 2011. Through this decision, Rua also gained the privilege to accompany the Frauenchor.

Dr. Rua obtained her undergraduate degree in Piano Performance at the University of Antioquia in Columbia. In her final year there, Rua took private English lessons and then proceeded to attend the University of Toledo for her Master’s Degree in Piano Performance.

After obtaining her Master’s, Rua went on to attend the University of Iowa for her Doctoral in Musical Arts (DMA) in Piano Performance and Pedagogy. While working on her DMA, Rua took the opportunity to study abroad and accompany a plethora of choirs and performers in Italy. Rua worked as a teacher’s assistant for piano classes while completing her Master’s and DMA degrees.

Being employed at Lakeland College as an adjunct professor is Rua’s first job out of college.

“I love accompanying [the] all women’s choir; the color that women’s voices create is wonderful,” Rua says.

Rua hadn’t met Lanie Knutson, Frauenchor’s current conductor, until the first day of rehearsal, but says, “Each conductor is different, but I’m really flexible with it.”

In addition to accompanying the Frauenchor, Rua also teaches class piano, applied piano, and, starting this year, she is teaching Music History and Appreciation.

Rua currently resides in Howards Grove with her husband, Jonathan.

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