The 90-member St. Olaf Orchestra is recognized nationally and internationally.
Richard Ostling of Time magazine once said, "I've always known about the great St.
Olaf Choir, but when I tuned in the St. Olaf Christmas Festival (on National Public
Television) I was astonished by the music of the St. Olaf Orchestra. In my
estimation, it has to be one of the best college orchestras in the nation."
The roots of the St. Olaf Orchestra date back to 1906. The ensemble has toured
annually since 1949, traveling throughout the United States, Scandinavia and Central
and Eastern Europe. It has appeared in some of Europe's finest concert halls and
performed with some of the world's most noted conductors and artists. In the summer
of 1998 the orchestra toured in Austria, Hungary, the Czech Republic, and Slovakia.
In the summer of 2005 the orchestra toured in Norway with the St. Olaf Band and St.
Olaf Choir, and in 2008 they concertized in Spain. In November 2001 the orchestra was
featured on National Public Radio's "A Prairie Home Companion" with Garrison Keillor,
which was broadcast from the St. Olaf College campus.
Steven Amundson has led the St. Olaf Orchestra in more than 400 performances since
becoming its conductor in 1981. Under his direction, the orchestra has developed into
an ensemble with few peers among colleges and universities in the United States. A
professor of music, Amundson teaches conducting, music theory, ear training, and
instrumentation. Before coming to St. Olaf, he held conducting positions at the
University of Virginia and Tacoma Community College and served as music director of
the Tacoma Youth Symphony. He is also the founding conductor of the Twin Cities-based
Metropolitan Symphony, which he led for five years. Amundson has served as resident
conductor and guest conductor at the Interlochen National Arts Camp and spent nine
summers as the orchestra conductor for the Lutheran Music Program. From 1984 to 1997
he served as music director and conductor of the Bloomington Symphony Orchestra. He
remains active as a guest conductor of community and professional ensembles in
Minnesota. He is a clinician and presenter at state and regional music conventions
and an adjudicator for young artist competitions in the Midwest. Amundson is also a
frequent conductor for All-State and Honors Orchestras throughout the United States.
An active composer and arranger, Amundson is published by MMB Music, Boosey and
Hawkes, and the Neil A. Kjos Music Company.