This fall, Elisabeth Cherland joined the Maverick family as the new Director of Choral Activities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Cherland will be teaching music education classes along with conducting the three chorale ensembles at MSU.
Cherland hails from Regina, Saskatchewan in Canada, where her childhood was shaped by music performance in all forms.
“I’m a fourth generation choral conductor. It’s always been part of my life. I sang in my dad’s high school choir and I always loved that. I went to college on a violin scholarship, but my favorite time was in choir,” Cherland said.
Cherland earned her masters in music education from Vandercook School of Music in Chicago. Her career includes seven years of public school teaching in Custer School District in South Dakota and Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota where she currently resides.
“I articulated that I really wanted to be a director of choral activities in my own program, and realized that I would be pleased to do that in a variety of contexts,” said Cherland about applying for the position.
The hiring process took place over the summer. Amy Roisum-Foley, director of bands in the music department, was on the hiring committee.
“One of the things that was really important to all of us was that, because the director of choral activities works with music education majors, we wanted someone who has successful public school teaching experience in addition to teaching at the college level. She came with the experiences that beautifully matched the job description,” said Roisum-Foley. “She brings a passion, a dedication to working with our students and making their experience positive, and she… fit.”
Although Cherland did not enter the position with set plans for the choral program, there was an immediate opportunity for positive change.
“We’ve actually returned to how things were pre-pandemic. We had so many auditions this fall coming back from COVID that we re-created the University Chorale,” Cherland said.
Previously, there were only enough students to fill Concert Choir and Chamber Singers. Cherland filled the vacancy left by Aaron Humble when he accepted a new position elsewhere.
“It’s always hard when you come in and someone was so well loved previously. I’m really grateful to Dr. Humble for setting up such a great program. Students are coming in ready and wanting to learn and make good music. He left it in such a good space and I’m looking forward to getting started,” Cherland said.
Cherland also hopes to feature lesser known composers in upcoming programs.
“I try to make sure there’s a variety of composers and make sure we have composers of color on all programs, as well featuring different styles and places that our music is coming from,” Cherland said.
As she settles in, Cherland looks to the future of the choral program.
“I always love doing things for the second time. I can’t wait to start year two and year three, and have a solid sense of what the possibilities are. I’m so pleased to be here,” Cherland added.
The three choral ensembles will perform Oct. 30 and Dec. 4 at 3 p.m. at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church.
Header Photo: Elisabeth Cherland recently became the new Director of Choral Activities at Minnesota State University, Mankato. Cherland teaches music education classes and conducts the three choral ensembles. (Lilly Anderson/The Reporter)
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