Douglas Amman, of Muncie, Indiana, and John Kiltinen, of Marquette were the recipients of the 2001 U. P. Choral Leadership Awards.
Dr. Douglas Amman, currently Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, was Director of Choral Activities at Northern Michigan University from 1972 through 1982. During that time Dr. Amman was conductor of the NMU Arts Chorale, the Marquette Choral Society, and the Upper Peninsula Youth Choir, and served as the Director of Music at Messiah Lutheran Church in Marquette.
Under Dr. Amman's leadership the NMU Arts Chorale toured extensively in Finland, Sweden, Central Europe and throughout the United States. The European tours were partially conducted by Robert Shaw and Neville Marriner, two of the most influential conductors of the twentieth century. In 1978, the Arts Chorale was invited to perform for the Regional American Choral Directors Association Convention in Minneapolis (based on tapes of the three previous years). Then in 1979, it was chosen to perform for the National American Choral Directors Association Convention in Kansas City.
Dr. Amman played a prominent role in the history of the Marquette Choral Society, assuming the role of conductor the year after its first season. Choral Society members who sang under Doug’s leadership recall his sensitive musicianship and his clear, concise conducting techniques. During his ten years here, the Marquette Choral Society performed such major works as Haydn’s “The Seasons” and Bach's “B-minor Mass” along with several contemporary compositions including Bernstein's “Chichester Psalms” and Walton’s “Belshazzar's Feast.”
For many years Dr. Amman was a strong force in choral music in the Upper Peninsula, educating and influencing students of all ages. Many of his students, inspired by his sound training and fine example, dedicated their lives to careers in music throughout the United States.
With Dr. Amman the medium of instruction was music, but the larger lesson was the pursuit of excellence. “That’s very close” was a phrase his students heard often while he taught them never to be satisfied with “very close” if there was another chance to reach for perfection. A former Arts Chorale member, now a church music director, relates, “Dr. Amman taught me so many things I have needed every day in my work with different choirs. I still find myself using his practical ways of explaining good voice production—‘Think of your voice as an airplane coming into the landing field instead of trying to push the voice up… ’ .”
He continues to inspire his students today with his convictions, energy, and fine musicality, always reaching for the goal of producing quality choral music.
Dr. John Kiltinen, a Professor of Mathematics at Northern Michigan University, is the first person to receive the Choral Leadership Award who is not a professional musician. However, his volunteer work over thirty years more than meets the criteria for the category of the award which recognizes “service to and support for quality choral music in the Upper Peninsula.”
His choral music activities began in his boyhood and are now centered around the Marquette Choral Society, of which he is a charter member, and St. Mark’s Lutheran Church. In addition, he has provided musical leadership through organizations such as the Marquette Community Concert Association, FinnFest USA ’96, the Marquette Senior High School Band and Orchestra Booster Club, and the Pine Mountain Music Festival.
Dr. Kiltinen’s leadership involvement with the Marquette Choral Society has touched many different areas and has extended over more than twenty years of the group’s thirty year history. He helped to draft the Society's bylaws in 1972, and his commitment to detail set the standard for concert arrangements from 1977 through 1988. He served as President from 1989 through 1992 and led the Society through it’s gala 20th Anniversary celebration with the memorable Dave Brubeck concert. Since 1989, he has offered his computer skills to do the layout work for the printed programs, the posters, and display advertisements. Since 1990, he has coordinated the use of day sponsorships on public radio to promote Choral Society concerts. In 1998, John created a web site which makes the history and current activities of the Choral Society available to virtually anyone in the world. He continues to maintain the web site. In 1997, he and his wife Pauline underwrote the commissioning of the “Qui tollis” movement of Jackson Berkey’s “Mass over a period of time” which was premiered by the Choral Society.
John used his leadership role with FinnFest USA ’96 which was held in Marquette to advance choral music and to realize a dream of premiering a choral work by a Finnish composer. The result was “Main Paras Vaif”, a cantata for baritone, chorus and orchestra by Atso Almila that was given its premiere by the Marquette Choral Society and visiting choirs from Finland and the USA. Not only did he and Pauline underwrite the commissioning, but his work as impresario of this project extended to engaging a world class operatic soloist, Jorma Hynninen, helping the librettist gather “Finglish” dialect examples for use in the work, writing the program notes, producing a recording which features this work, and arranging for its inclusion as a radio program in the nationally syndicated series, “Finland Festivals.”
John’s other work in support of music includes two projects to make available Community Concert artists for performances in the Marquette schools, raising funds during 1988-89 for new high school band uniforms and for a tour by the high school orchestra, helping to raise over $90,000 for the 1992 renovation of Kaufman Auditorium, and organizing over a dozen local concerts by visiting ensembles such as the St. Olaf College Band and Orchestra, the Duquesne University Tamburitzans, the Ball State University Chamber Choir, and the Detroit Symphony Orchestra Brass Quintet.
Dr. Kiltinen's long-standing and many faceted contributions and dedication to choral music have been an invaluable asset to the Upper Peninsula music community.