A rabbi, a folksinger, and a university professor make up the unlikely trio of “Three Altos.” Rabbi Amy Bernstein, singer-songwriter Sara Thomsen, and Dr. Paula Pedersen have developed their vocal blend from years of harmonizing a friendship over food, conversation, laughter, and song. The trio first performed in Duluth, MN in 2004 for a benefit concert for Northern Community Land Trust held at Sacred Heart Music Center. A year later, the three women released their debut recording, Three Altos: Camaradas, to a standing room only crowd at Mitchell Auditorium. They have performed numerous concerts and charitable events since then in their six years together.
Rabbi Amy Bernstein has served as the rabbi of Temple Israel in Duluth, Minnesota for fourteen years and will soon be moving to Pacific Palisades, CA where she will serve as a rabbi at the largest Reconstructionist synagogue in the world. Originally from Atlanta, Georgia, since coming to the Twin Ports Rabbi Bernstein has served as the President of the Arrowhead Interfaith Council, served two terms on the Board of Trustees of the College of St. Scholastica, delivered several keynote addresses, taught at area colleges and lectured widely in the Northland. She and her daughter, Eliana Fay, are excited about their upcoming move but will miss all of the wonderful people of the Northland who have made their time in Minnesota enriching and meaningful.
Singer-songwriter Sara Thomsen has been performing in and around the Twin Ports as a solo artist, as well as member and artistic coordinator of Three Altos and artistic director of the Echoes of Peace Choir. Sara is an award-winning songwriter and has also been the recipient of various community honors including the YWCA Women of Distinction Leadership Award and Men as Peacemaker’s Community Peacemaker Award for her various efforts to build community through music. Thomsen is the producer of four solo albums as well as the two Three Altos albums.
Dr. Paula Pedersen is Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. She also works as an interculturalist and consultant to educational and leadership groups seeking self awareness and strategies toward intercultural effectiveness. As an educator, singer and global citizen, Paula strives to facilitate understanding of the complexity of multiple perspectives. Paula fantasized about becoming the next Barbara Streisand as an adolescent, using her hairbrush as a microphone, and has been singing in groups her whole life, from high school swing choir, to the esteemed Luther College Nordic Choir, to the lead singer for a local rock band.
While their voices are as different as their personalities, it seems there is something magical that happens when the three women begin to harmonize. The trio's friendship has grown deeper with each chord.
The Three Altos believe that the clearest reflection of the Sacred is the rich and textured diversity that makes each human being and every speck of space dust unique. The energy at the center of it all pulses through the many traditions and styles on their recordings and is the force driving the celebration and affirmation of life found in so many of their lyrics and melodies.