Alyce Berggren (1925-2009) - Alyce Bedrosian grew up in an Armenian family in Chicago. After earning a masters degree in piano from Northwestern University, Northern State Teachers College hired her in 1947. She carried a return train ticket from her concerned father, but never used it. Alyce was named "First Lady of Aberdeen" in 1979 and NSU Outstanding Faculty Member of the Year in 1987. Alyce taught until 1991 and continued accompanying NSU music students until 2002. Alyce passed away in August of 2009.
Jack Berggren (1920-2004) - Dr. John Berggren was born August 10, 1920 to Harry and Laura (Peterson) Berggren at Bayard, NE. He was raised in Scottsbluff, NE where he received his primary education. He attended Hastings College, Hastings, NE where he earned his Bachelor of Arts and Bachelor of Music degrees.
John served four years in the United States Army Air Corps in Roswell, New Mexico, where he was a surgical technician in the Medical Unit.
After the war, he earned his Master of Arts degree from Columbia University, New York, NY in 1947. The Doctorate in Music and Music Administration was granted in 1952, also from Columbia University. He continued his education and studied at the Juilliard School and the American Theatre Wing, both in New York City. While there he was a member of the Collegiate Chorale and the Robert Shaw Chorale, both under the direction of Shaw; during which time the organization performed with Arturo Toscanini and the NBC Symphony, and in Carnegie Hall. Additional study was with Hermanus Baer at Northwestern University, at Evanston, IL.
In 1949, he came to Northern State University in Aberdeen after teaching at the University of Georgia and served as professor of vocal and choral music, and additionally as chairman of the Division of Fine Arts.
John married Alyce Bedrosian in 1950 in Chicago, IL. John retired as Professor Emeritus in 1985.
Among the organizations, to which he belonged are the South Dakota Arts Council on which he served for eleven years, Aberdeen Community Concert Association and South Dakota Music Teachers Association, both of which he led as President, and the National Association of Teachers of Singing.
John was instrumental in establishing chapters of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia, a national music fraternity, Pi Kappa Lambda, a national music scholastic society, Sigma Alpha Iota, a women's professional music fraternity, and achieving department membership in the National Association of Schools of Music. He was also a member of the National Association of Choral Conductors and the South Dakota Educational Television Board.
As a member of the Central Opera Service, he was a district judge of the Metropolitan Opera Auditions in Chicago and Lincoln, NE. He served as judge and choral clinician for many years for music contests and festivals throughout the area.
Locally, he was a member of the Plymouth Congregational United Church of Christ, a 25-year member of Kiwanis, and served on the YMCA Board for nine years. He was a member of various Masonic bodies, recently receiving a 50-year membership pin from the Scottsbluff lodge, and directed the Shrine Chanters, the Scottish Rite Chorus and the Elks Club Chorus for many years.
John was chairman of a committee to make South Dakota Public Radio a reality in the northeast part of the state.
In 1978, the Alyce and John Berggren Scholarship Foundation was established, and in 1982, they were awarded the Governor's Award in the Arts. The Recital Hall in the Johnson Fine Arts Center was dedicated to them in the same year, and John was recognized by the South Dakota Education Association for his years of service to music education in the State.
For many years, his direction of Handel's MESSIAH, with full orchestra and a chorus' of students, alumni and community members was his gift to the area and the beginning of the holiday season.
He was widely admired and respected by students who knew him as Dr. B and many still recall the student bus trips to Minneapolis to hear the Metropolitan Opera productions.
Mavis Hamre - The late Mavis Hamre graduated from NSC in 1960. She taught at various schools throughout South Dakota. She returned to NSC in 1969 and taught music education until 1985. She made significant contributions to the department, institution, community and state. In 1977, Mavis was awarded the Outstanding Teacher Award at NSC. Mavis most recently lived in Mesa, Arizona, where she kept busy in church- and music-related organizations.
Merritt Johnson (1902-1978) - Merritt Johnson grew up in Dunkirk, Ohio. He received his bachelor of music degree at the Oberlin Conservatory of Music in 1925 and a masters of music degree at Oberlin in 1934. While an undergraduate he also taught part time and played the organ in both theater and church near his home town of Dunkirk. Early in his career, he decided to study with great teachers in preference to seeking degrees, and hence had studied with such famous musicians as Josef Lhevinne, Egon Patri, Wilhelm Middleschuldt, Leo Sowerby and Darius Milhaud. During the summer months early in his career he also attended school at Cornell University, Mills College and the American Conservatory in Chicago, IL. Mr. Johnson began teaching at Wesley College, the University of North Dakota, and in 1933 moved to Northern State College in Aberdeen, South Dakota, where he taught piano and organ, as well as harmony, counterpoint, ear training, keyboard harmony and composition. For twenty-five years Mr. Johnson was head of the piano department and for several years Director of the N.S.C. Symphony Orchestra. For forty-five years he played with the Orchestra, and for that same period was organist for the Bethlehem Lutheran Church of Aberdeen. For several years he also served as director of the church choir .
Through his years of teaching and playing, Mr. Johnson also composed extensively and published over twenty-five selections and books. He learned that his compositions have been used in the Moscow Conservatory of Music and throughout Europe, as well as Turkey, Alaska and Canada. Honors came through the years. He was the first South Dakota composer commissioned to create a work for the National Music Teachers Assn. of which he served as a board member of the North Central District for two years. He was also commissioned to write a selection for the All-State Orchestra and Chorus Festival in 1972. This was "The Prairie", for which his wife Katherine wrote the words before her death the previous year. The Fall 1971, issue of the "South Dakota Musician" was dedicated to him, and as Professor Emeritus, he was named Teacher of the Year in 1973 as he retired from a lifetime of college work. He was a member of Pi Kappa Lambda and honored by Theta Nu of Phi Alpha Sinfonia. He was a past Dean of the South Dakota Chapter of the American Guild of Organists. He had been a member of the Aberdeen Rotary Club since 1933 and was a longtime member of the Aberdeen Masonic Lodge, Scottish Rite and Yelduz Shrine. Merritt Johnson passed away May 10, 1978, in Aberdeen. His two daughters have followed him in musical careers, Mitta Angel in the Dallas Symphony Orchestra and Marcy Chanteaux in the Detroit Symphony.
Wilmer Kirschenmann - Wilmer Kirschenmann grew up in Pollock, SD, graduated from NSC in 1952 and received his Master's degree from NSC in 1956. He went on to get his Doctorate at the University of Northern Colorado in 1970. Wilmer taught music education courses at NSC from 1964 to 1991. During his tenure at NSU, he supervised student music teachers, published several textbooks and was active in many city, state and national music organizations. He was a recipient of the Northern State University Excellent in Teaching Award and the Northern State University Service Award. Wilmer and his wife, Lorraine, reside in Aberdeen. They recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary.
Harvey Moen (1909-2001) - Harvey Skewis Moen was born May 20, 1909, to O.H. Moen and Anita (Skewis) Moen in Inwood, IA. He graduated from Inwood high school and earned a Bachelor of Science (Education) degree from Augustana College in Sioux Falls. He received the Master of Music Education degree from the University of Michigan and completed additional post-graduate hours from Northwestern University, the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana, and Western State College in Colorado. Early in his career, Harvey taught music in several SD schools including Augustana Academy at Canton, as well as the Canton and Groton high schools. In 1935, he was selected as a member of the International Marimba Symphony Orchestra for a concert tour of Europe. Upon returning to the United States, the orchestra, consisting of 100 marimbas, played a concert in Carnegie Hall. In 1940, he was invited by Dr. N.E. Steele, president of Northern State Teachers College (now Northern State University), to establish a formal concert band program and a capella choir. Due to the shortage of band directors during World War II, he also directed bands in the Columbia, Warner, and Aberdeen schools. In 1949, he began the tradition of inviting area high school bands to participate in a mass band performance during half time of Northern's homecoming Gypsy Day football game. Over 1,000 students presented music and maneuvers annually. This activity continued until 1962. He also began the annual Northern State Band Clinic in 1946, which continues today. Harvey was a full-time faculty member from 1940-1974 and then half time until 1978.
Harvey received numerous awards for his dedication and love of music. The South Dakota Music Educators Association honored him following 25 years of service as an All-State Band Judge. He received the Man of Music award from the Theta Nu Chapter of Sinfonia and the Distinguished Service award from the South Dakota High School Activities Association. In 1992, he was one of the six original inductees into the South Dakota Bandmasters Hall of Fame at the Shrine to Music Museum in Vermillion, SD.
Leonard Palmquist (1926-2001) - Leonard Palmquist grew up in Langford, SD and received his bachelor's degree from Northern State Teachers College in 1948. He went on to do graduate work at several universities and earned his master's from Northern in 1956. \
Palmquist taught music and other subjects in Langford, Plankinton, Clark, Aberdeen and Stratford public schools. He taught music history, applied organ and piano, exploring music, class piano and occasionally music theory at Northern State from 1955 to 1986. In 1976, Leonard and his son, David, an NSC graduate assistant at that time, introduced two courses to the music department which are still being taught to this day: Organ Literature, Registration and Materials and Class Guitar. He served as the faculty sponsor of Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia for many years and as a violinist in the College-Civic Symphony until the last year of his life.
According to his daughter, Jane, Northern State played a big role in her father's life, as well as the lives of the rest of the family. Palmquist and his wife, Alice, met at NSU, where each earned a music degree. Three of their four children also attained music or music education degrees from NSU. "I remember helping construct Gypsy Day floats as a child and as a college student...It was as a fifth grader, watching Dad make purple copy dittos of an exam that I decided to become a college professor," she explained.
In addition to his many contributions at NSU, Palmquist was a member of Sacred Heart Catholic Church, where he was organist and choir director from 1971 to 1988. He also was organist and choir director at Zion Lutheran Church from 1954 to 1968.
Jan Pearson - Janis Pearson retired from NSU in May 2000 after 36 years of teaching private voice, class voice, music appreciation and the study of opera. She grew up on a farm near Hecla, SD and sang in Los Angeles, CA before teaching at Northern. Her private voice students placed regularly in the annual SDMTA Collegiate Student Auditions. Other students have soloed with the University/Civic Symphony and various University ensembles. She was editor of the South Dakota Musician Magazine for many years and was the advisor for Sigma Alpha Iota, a professional music fraternity for women. Jan continues to live in Aberdeen. She keeps busy with church choir, music clubs and travels frequently.
Lonn Sweet - The late Lonn Sweet was a member of the music faculty at NSU from 1974 to 2000. From Scotland, S.D., he received a Bachelor of Science Degree from the University of South Dakota-Springfield. In 1976 Lonn was named Outstanding Alumnus. He served as a clinic/festival guest conductor all over the Midwest. Lonn was active in various local, state and national music organizations. His duties at Northern over the years included directing the marching/symphonic band, teaching low brass, teaching upper class music courses, serving as chair of the music/theatre department chair from 1975 to 1985 and serving as Dean of the School of Fine Arts from 1985 to 2000. In 1997 the Aberdeen Area Arts Council selected him as the Arts Educator Friend of the Arts. He recently was named to the South Dakota Bandmaster's Hall of Fame.
Ben Vandervelde - Though he was not actually named an emeritus faculty member, Ben conducted the College/Civic Symphony and taught private strings and music theory for 21 years at NSC. For a time, he also taught orchestra students at Central High School three mornings a week. Ben retired from NSC in May of 1980 and recently passed away.