Anton Armstrong, Conductor

The 2023-24 season is Anton Armstrong’s 34th year as Conductor of the St. Olaf Choir, marking him as the longest tenured conductor in the ensemble’s storied 112 year history.  He is the Harry R. and Thora H. Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College, becoming the fourth conductor of the St. Olaf Choir in 1990 after ten years in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he served on the faculty of Calvin University and led the Calvin Alumni Choir, Calvin Campus Choir, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the St. Cecilia Youth Chorale.   He is a graduate of St. Olaf College and earned advanced degrees at the University of Illinois (MM) and Michigan State University (DMA).  He is editor of a multicultural choral series for Earthsongs Publications and co-editor (with John Ferguson) of the revised St. Olaf Choral Series for Augsburg Fortress Publishers.  In June 1998, he began his tenure as founding conductor of the Oregon Bach Festival Stangeland Family Youth Choral Academy.  Dr. Armstrong currently serves as Chair of the National Board of Chorus America and has returned to serve on the National Board of The Choristers Guild.

During the 2023-24 season  Anton Armstrong will lead choral festivals at Carnegie Hall, New York, NY. and Schermerhorn Symphony Center, Nashville, TN    He will also serve as a guest lecturer and clinician at the University of Illinois, Duke University and Baylor University.  In October 2023, he will return as President of the Jury of the Busan International Choral Festival in Busan, South Korea.  Additional guest conducting appearances will take place in Charlotte, NC., Santa Fe, NM., and Manassas, VA.  In June 2024 he will lead the St. Olaf Choir on their first tour to South Africa.

Dr. Armstrong has frequently conducted ensembles and appeared before regional, national and international gatherings of the American Choral Directors Association, International Federation of Choral Music, National Association for Music Education, Choristers Guild, American Guild of Organists, Association of Lutheran Church Musicians, Organization of American Kodaly Educators and the Orff-Schulwerk Association. In recent years he has guest conducted such noted ensembles as the Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra at Temple Square, the Utah Symphony and Symphony Chorus, the Utah Voices and Salt Lake City Symphony,  the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Westminster Choir, the American Boychoir,  The Houston Chamber Choir, The Vocal Arts Ensemble of Cincinnati, The Phoenix Chorale, Indonesia Youth Choir, and the Ansan City Choir, South Korea.  He has also collaborated in concert with Bobby McFerrin and Garrison Keillor.   

In March 2017, The St. Olaf Christmas Festival, one of the oldest musical celebrations of Christmas in the United States begun in 1912 by F. Melius Christiansen, founder of the St. Olaf College Music Department was featured by invitation in two major performances at the National Conference of the American Choral Directors Association at Orchestra Hall, Minneapolis, MN.  Since 1990, Anton Armstrong has served as Artistic Director of the St. Olaf Christmas Festival which features nearly 600 student musicians who are members of five St. Olaf Choral ensembles and the St. Olaf Orchestra.  

In January 2006, Baylor University selected Anton Armstrong from a field of 118 distinguished nominees to receive the Robert Foster Cherry Award for Great Teaching.  He spent February-June 2007 in residency at Baylor University as a visiting professor.  In March 2007 Anton Armstrong was the first recipient of the Distinguished Alumni Award from the American Boychoir School and in October 2009 he received The Distinguished Alumni Award from Michigan State University. In June 2013 Dr. Armstrong received the Saltzman Award from the Oregon Bach Festival.   The festival’s highest honor, the Saltzman Award is bestowed upon individuals who have provided exceptional levels of leadership to the organization.  In the Fall of 2014, The St. Olaf Choir and Dr. Armstrong received a Regional Emmy for the PBS television program Christmas in Norway with The St. Olaf Choir.  In 2021, Anton Armstrong was named an Honorary Life Member of the National Collegiate Choral Organization.  Honorary Life Members are recognized as members of the choral profession who have devoted their life to the enhancement and artistic growth of the choral art. The award recognizes those leaders in the choral profession who have mentored young conductors, inspired singers, supported music educators in the arts, and shared their talents and gifts in the United States and abroad. In September 2022, Dr. Armstrong will receive the Distinguished Legacy Award, from the College of Fine and Applied Arts at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the 2022: 50 Over 50 Honoree in the Arts Award from AARP-Minnesota and the Pollen Midwest.