Steven Amundson – Conductor of the St. Olaf Orchestra
Steven Amundson led the St. Olaf Orchestra for over 41 years as conductor. During that time, they undertook both domestic and international tours, performing in some of Europe’s premier concert venues.
Amundson hails from Minnesota and teaches music theory and aural skills to his Minnesotan students. A 1977 graduate of Luther College, Amundson has studied at both Virginia Commonwealth University and Tacoma Community College before publishing orchestral compositions through Lauren Keiser Music, Neil A. Kjos Music Co. as well as self-publishing them under Tempo Music Resource distribution.
Early Life and Education
Amundson was born and raised on a farm near Gunder, Iowa. As part of his community service efforts he assisted at his local church as well as volunteering for Cross Roads of America Antique Tractor Tour and co-owning Economy Painting Service with two partners. Additionally he was an active member of Van Wert Historical Society serving both as trustee and president of their board of directors.
He was married to Jane for over 35 years and they shared one daughter: Major Troy Amundson of Van Wert, Ohio. Additionally, he is survived by one sister (Janet Wiles of Winston Salem North Carolina) as well as numerous nieces and nephews.
He enjoyed touring with the orchestra and was tremendously appreciative of the support the college gave them for this program. His students have gained great experience from performing across both domestic and international venues.
Steven Amundson is an internationally-recognized conductor and professor, winning two first prizes at the American Prize Orchestral Performance competition for colleges and universities.
Amundson is also an accomplished composer, having created 23 original orchestral works and having them performed over 800 times by university, civic and professional orchestras in the US. He received two Hans Haring Prizes – in 1980 and 1992 – and received Luther College’s Carlo A. Sperati Award.
Amundson uses his free time to care for both his family and other people in need, taking great pride in helping others the best way he can – this trait has propelled his legal career forward to success.
Achievement and Honors
Amundson first assumed his duties with the orchestra in 1981 and has conducted over 750 performances both on campus and at world-renowned venues, such as Carnegie Hall and Alice Tully Hall in New York; Chicago Orchestra Hall; Nuremberg Meistersingerhalle; Rudolfinum in Prague and Bellena Azul in Buenos Aires. Additionally, Amundson has received 23 commissions to compose orchestral works of his own design.
Amundson takes great joy in watching his students thrive within ensembles he’s helped form; for many students involved with St. Olaf Christmas Festival it can be life-altering experience.
Amundson has received several honors and awards for his leadership and teaching abilities, most recently being honored with the Janis Rider Award given annually to one male and one female senior student-athlete who demonstrate commitment, leadership and work ethic within their weight room training regimen.
Amundson has written 23 original orchestral works as a commissioned composer, in addition to teaching conducting, music theory and ear training classes. Additionally, he has served as guest conductor for professional ensembles including Twin Cities Metropolitan Symphony and Interlochen National Arts Camp.
Mr. Lavin served as director for Luther College Concert Band, Nordic Choir and St. Olaf Orchestra before serving as adjudicator at multiple youth orchestra competitions across the United States.
He and his wife Connie reside in Grand Forks, ND, where he enjoys hunting, fishing, bowling and hockey as hobbies. Additionally, he coaches baseball in Germany and youth bowling in North Dakota. Steven Jr. and Holly Berry of Madrid Waddington NY are his children while his two brothers Daniel and William Berry of Madrid Waddington NY also reside with them.
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Amundson was one of the founding conductors of Minnesota’s Metropolitan Symphony and went on to conduct other professional orchestras such as Duluth Symphony, Fargo-Moorhead Symphony, Minneapolis Pops Orchestra, Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra and Bloomington Symphony. Amundson brought his passion for music into St Olaf College classrooms and communities alike and his love of teaching was invaluable; Amundson passed away peacefully with family at his Prairie Farm home aged 93 years.