Augustana University’s School of Music Names Sixth Tenured Conductor of the Augustana Choir

By Jill Wilson | June 01, 2022
Svenningsen All State

Augustana University’s School of Music is excited to announce that Dr. Russell P. Svenningsen, associate professor of music and director of vocal studies, has been named the sixth tenured conductor of the Augustana Choir. The announcement comes after the Augustana Choir recently celebrated its 100th anniversary.

“It is a tremendous honor to be part of the history of the Augustana Choir,” said Svenningsen. “I look forward to working with the students in creating a bright, new future for this storied ensemble and the rest of the Vocal Studies Program. It is a very exciting time to be an Augustana Viking and I am thrilled to play a part in achieving the goals set forth in the Viking Bold strategic plan.”

Before coming to AU in 2010, Svenningsen was conductor of the concert choir and men’s glee club at Southwest Minnesota State University (SMSU). Svenningsen earned his Doctor of Musical Arts (DMA) in musical education from Boston University, Master of Music (MM) in choral conducting from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music (CCM) and Bachelor of Music (BM) in music education from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota.

Svenningsen was previously the conductor of Augustana’s University Chorale, and has worked as clinician and guest artist with professional, high school and community choirs across the United States and abroad. This year, he became the first South Dakota professor to have conducted the Annual South Dakota All-State Chorus, hosted by the South Dakota High School Activities Association (SDHSAA).

“Russell Svenningsen is a dynamic personality and an exceptional musician. Most of all, he inspires students to want to sing their very best, and that makes him the right person, at the right time for this position. We were overwhelmed by the feedback from Dr. Svenningsen’s leadership with the 2021 South Dakota All-State Chorus — students, parents and educators were clearly inspired by what he brought to the podium. I have the utmost confidence in his ability to help us grow the School of Music and choral program,” said Dr. Peter Folliard, dean of Augustana’s School of Music.

Svenningsen is a member of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), National Association for Music Education (NAfME), National Collegiate Choral Organization (NCCO) and National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS). He has served on the executive boards of Opera South Dakota and the South Dakota Arts Council Music panel. He has appeared with both the South Dakota Symphony Orchestra (SDSO) and Northwest Iowa Symphony Orchestra (NISO), and is a member and soloist of the GRAMMY-nominated South Dakota Chorale. 

For more information on Augustana's School of Music, visit

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