BRETT D. EPPERSON NAMED NEW LINCOLN LUTHERAN CHOIR ARTISTIC DIRECTOR AND CONDUCTOR
The Lincoln Lutheran Choir Board of Directors is pleased to announce that Brett D. Epperson has been named Artistic Director and Conductor of the Choir. Epperson is Director of Vocal Music at Lincoln East High School, a position he has held since the fall of 2013. Prior to teaching in Lincoln, Epperson served on the music staff of Jefferson High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. As music director, Epperson has led worship of Lutheran congregations in Council Bluffs, Ely, and Decorah Iowa. Epperson has maintained an active professional performance career, collaborating with such groups as the Omaha Symphony, Orchestra Iowa, the Omaha Consort, the South Dakota Chorale, Sounding Light (Michigan), the Omaha Chamber Singers, Cedar Rapids Opera Theatre, and Opera Omaha. Epperson serves on the Board of Directors for Abendmusik and is a Choral Scholar at First Plymouth Church. He is a proud 2011 graduate of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. During his summers, Epperson is working towards a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting at Michigan State University, to be completed in 2017.
Dr. Janene Sheldon, artistic conductor and director | Fall 2014 – Fall 2015
Dr. Janene Sheldon is a singer, pianist, conductor, and composer. She received her MM and DMA degrees in Voice Performance from the University of Nebraska Lincoln, where she also minored in music composition; her BA is in Music Education with a dance minor, Summa cum laude from Kearney State College (now UNK). On Aug. 11, 2014, Dr. Sheldon began a new adventure as the full time Professor of Choir, Piano, and Voice at Indian Hills Community College in Ottumwa, IA, where she conducts Concert Choir and Chamber Choir and teaches Applied Voice and Theory Lab.
Dr. Sheldon taught at Nebraska Wesleyan University from 2004-2014, where she taught Applied Voice, Women’s Choir, Singer’s Diction, Vocal Pedagogy, Vocal Literature, Music for Elementary Teachers, Senior Capstone, Women in Music, Musicianship III, Chamber Singers, and Applied Piano. Dr. Sheldon also taught at Concordia University in Seward, NE from 1995-2007, teaching Applied Voice, Diction, and Sight-Singing/Ear Training, and providing musical direction for productions of Into the Woods and Down in the Valley.
She has been Music and Worship Director for St. Mark’s United Methodist and Grace United Methodist churches in Lincoln, Assistant Director and Scholarship singer for St. Paul UMC in Lincoln, has soloed in and conducted portions of Handel’s Messiah with orchestra, and has done music direction and accompanying for The Lincoln Community Playhouse, Lincoln’s Pinewood Bowl, Lincoln Public Schools, and the Lincoln Boys Choir.
Dr. Sheldon is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda, The National Association of Teachers of Singing, and Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity. Dr. Sheldon has served as adjudicator, clinician, and choreographer throughout Nebraska, and was a Board of Trustees Scholar, Regents Scholar, a recipient of the Ida M. Vreeland Award for Composition, and has presented for the NATS Vocal Pedagogy Workshop.
Dr. Kurt Knecht | Fall 2012 – Fall 2014
Kurt Knecht is a composer, organist, and conductor currently living in Lincoln, Nebraska. His compositions have been described as “funky” and “joyous” in the Washington Post, and the American Record Guide has called him a “fresh voice.” His compositions have become a staple of the modern choral festival literature and have been performed at festivals and concerts in over 35 states. Recent performances of his compositions include international performances at festivals and concerts in Germany, Austria, Italy, the Netherlands, Singapore, Hong Kong, Canada, Mexico, the United Kingdom, Cuba, and a performance at the Kennedy Center by the Grammy Award winning Washington Chorale. He is regularly commissioned and publishes with Walton and Pavane. He has received the ASCAP Plus award (2008-2012) from the American Society of Composers, Authors, and Publishers. His composition Missa Prolationem was awarded the Folsom Prize for the most outstanding dissertation of the University of Nebraska in 2009. As an eclectic performer, Kurt has been a featured soloist with groups ranging from Smokey Robinson to The Florida Orchestra. Kurt also regularly appears as a concert organist and collaborative pianist. He has served as an accompanist to many of the nations leading choral conductors having performed in concert with Jo-Michael Scheibe, Jerry McCoy, Doreen Rao, Andre Thomas, Kevin Fenton, and Therees Hibbard. He is the music director at St. Mark’s on the Campus in Lincoln, NE. He received the Bachelor of Music from the University of Tampa with concentrations in Piano Performance and Theory, the Master of Music in Composition from Southern Methodist University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Composition with a minor in Organ Performance from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln.
Carlos Messerli | Founding Director | 1978 – Fall 1990, Spring 1995 – Spring 1998
After a twenty-year career as teacher of music history, piano and director of the Concordia Singers of Concordia University in Seward, Nebraska and many years of service as a church musician, Dr. Carlos R. Messerli founded the Lincoln Lutheran Choir in 1978. Shortly thereafter he was called to become the founding Executive Director of the Lutheran Music Program, which sponsors a summer program in classical music for high school musicians on various Lutheran college campuses. He held this post until his retirement in 1995. For twelve years he was an active member of the group that developed the Lutheran Book of Worship and was co-author of the Manual of that publication. He served two terms as national President of the Association of Lutheran Church Musicians. Earlier, he served several terms as a national officer of the Lutheran Society for Worship, Music and Arts.
A native of Oregon, Dr. Messerli graduated from Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois. He went on to receive Master’s Degrees from Northwestern University (piano) and the University of Michigan (musicology); and a Ph.D. degree from the University of Iowa (choral literature). In 1994 Concordia University, River Forest, Illinois, conferred on him the honorary Doctor of Letters degree. Messerli was the content editor of “Celebrating the Musical Heritage of the Lutheran Church,” funded by Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, Carlos and his wife, Susan are now retired in Oak Park, Illinois. Dr. Messerli was director from 1978 through 1998.
After a courageous battle with lymphoma, Dr Messerli passed away on November 9, 2017. His vision for Lincoln Lutheran Choir will continue to live in the hearts and minds of it’s leaders and singers. The 40th Anniversary Concert is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Messerli and the theme for the concert, “Think About Such Things”, is from one of his favorite biblical texts.
Cassandra S. McMahan | Fall 1990 – Fall 1994
Cassandra S. McMahan began her music career by directing several church choirs. She served the Lincoln Lutheran Choir as Assistant Director and also as Director. Cassie has held the position of Director of Parish and School Music at Faith Lutheran Church in Lincoln and has been a workshop leader and guest lecturer in the fields of choral music, music education, and family life ministry. She graduated from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln with a bachelor of Music Degree in piano performance and has done graduate work there in choral music. She received her Master’s Degree in Family Life Ministry from Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska in 2002.
William Kuhn | Fall 1999 – Spring 2003
Dr. William Kuhn was the choir’s third director and past Associate Professor of Music at Concordia University – Seward, NE. Dr. Kuhn brought a rich music and cultural background to the choir. A 1977 graduate of Concordia University in River Forest, Illinois, he studied with such notable Lutheran musicians as Paul Bunjes, Richard Hillert, Carl Schalk, Herbert Gotsch and Thomas Gieschen. After teaching at Luther High School South in Chicago, Illinois, Kuhn received a call to teach music at Hong Kong International School, an American style college preparatory school run through the auspices of the Lutheran Board of Missions of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod. In addition to his work at HKIS, Kuhn was Minister of Music at Church of All Nations-Lutheran. In Hong Kong, Kuhn had the opportunity to work with English choral conductors Gordon Kembar and Professor Nicholas Routley, former Chorus Master of the Sydney Opera House and son of famed Church Historian, Erik Routley.
In the 1984-1985 school year, Dr. Kuhn was awarded a sabbatical to study at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. He studied with Dr. Robert Harris and band legend Dr. John Paynter. Kuhn had the opportunity to study with well-known music education philosophers Dr. Bennett Reimer and Dr. David Elliott. In the fall of 1985 Kuhn returned to Hong Kong and remained there until he accepted a call to teach at Concordia University in 1993. In the year 2000, William Kuhn received his Doctor of Education degree from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Kathleen Ohlman | Fall 2003 – Fall 2005
Kathleen Ohlman, the Choir’s Interim Director from 2003 to 2005, directed choral music and taught both vocal and instrumental music in elementary, junior high, and high school settings. She served Lutheran schools in Houston, Texas; Kansas City, Missouri; Seward, Nebraska; and Lincoln, Nebraska. She received Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees from Concordia University, Seward, Nebraska and is a candidate for a Ph.D. in Music Education from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln.
Stephen Mohring | Spring 2006
Stephen Mohring, Interim Director for Spring 2006, is a native of Sioux City, Iowa. He received his Bachelor’s Degree in Music Education in 2003 and his Master of Music Degree in 2005 from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. As part of his master’s program, he wrote a thesis which developed a measure to assess social outcomes in high school students. He has worked as a freelance music arranger, arranging music for school choirs and show choirs throughout Nebraska and across the midwest and has taught in the Lincoln Public Schools.
James J. Lytton | Fall 2006 – Spring 2007
James J. (Jim) Lytton was Interim Director for the 2006-07 season. Born in Omaha, living in east and central Nebraska as a youth, later in Kansas City, Missouri, and most recently in Reno, Nevada, where he was Director of Music for St. Thomas Aquinas Cathedral. He received his Bachelor of Music Degree in organ from Westminster Choir College, Princeton, New Jersey, his Master’s in Choral Conducting from Southern Methodist University, Dallas, Texas, and also holds certification as ChoirMaster from the American Guild of Organists. Mr. Lytton’s classroom teaching experience in both public and private settings includes music, music history and theory and computer technology related courses. He has served in ten states as Director of Music or ChoirMaster and has prepared choirs to sing at Carnegie Hall and at the National Cathedral in Washington, D.C.
Joshua Norris | Spring 2007 – Spring 2012
Dr. Josh Norris, a native of Kingman, Arizona is Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at McPherson College. As a doctoral student in Choral Conducting at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Norris studied with Dr. Peter A Eklund and Dr. Therees Tkach Hibbard. Norris received his undergraduate degree in Music Education and Choral Conducting from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa under the guidance of the internationally renowned choral conductor, Weston Noble, and a Master of Music degree in Choral Conducting from Texas State University in San Marcos, Texas under Dr. Joey Martin. Norris’ past collegiate teaching appointments were at Nebraska Wesleyan University and Doane College during which time he also served as Artistic Director and Conductor of the Lincoln Lutheran Choir, and on the staff at First- Plymouth Congregational Church. Prior to his collegiate teaching career, Dr. Norris spent several years teaching music in the schools and churches of Texas, Montreal, Canada and Durham, England.