All-City Choir Festival set for Tuesday, April 5 in Detroit Lakes

The festival will be something like an all-choir reunion, as the four guest conductors taking part in the event are alumni of Detroit Lakes High School's vocal music program, and Laker vocalists past and present are invited to take part in a grand finale concert.

Mark Potvin.jpg
Mark Potvin, Detroit Lakes High School Class of 1996, is among four alumni set to take the stage as guest conductors at the 47th Annual All-City Choir Festival on Tuesday, April 5, 2022.
Contributed / Mark Potvin
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DETROIT LAKES — Every spring for nearly five decades, choral students from across Detroit Lakes have joined together to participate in the public school system's annual All-City Choir Festival.

The festival, which is set to take place this year on Tuesday, April 5, is a community-wide celebration of choral music. Traditionally, it takes place over two days and includes Detroit Lakes Public Schools vocal music students in grades 6-12, giving them an opportunity to work with some of Minnesota’s finest choir conductors.

When Detroit Lakes High School vocal music director Kathy Larson was informed that the middle school would not be participating this year, she took the opportunity to freshen up the format a little, condensing it into a one-day event and inviting four DLHS alumni to serve as the guest conductors.

"It's a way of showing the community the success our students have found through participation in Detroit Lakes' vocal music programs," said Larson, noting that all four of the guest conductors are involved in teaching and conducting choral music in some fashion.

"We are so excited to be welcoming back to our community conductors to work with our students who have themselves participated as singers in the All-City Choir Festival," she added.


This year's guest conductors include:

  • Mark Potvin, DLHS Class of 1996 and current conductor of Cathedral Choir and Norskkor at Luther College, where he also teaches conducting, secondary choral methods, class voice, and musical theater.
    Wendy Suoja.JPG
    Wendy Suoja, Detroit Lakes High School Class of 1992, is among four DLHS alumni set to take the stage as guest conductors for the 47th Annual All-City Choir Festival.
    Contributed / Wendy Suoja
  • Wendy Suoja, DLHS Class of 1992 and current choir director for White Bear Lake Area High School, where she also directs the high school musical each year.
    Jacob Kempenich.jpeg
    Jacob Kempenich, Detroit Lakes High School Class of 2014.
    Contributed / Jacob Kempenich
  • Jacob Kempenich, DLHS Class of 2014 and current vocal music instructor at Albany Public Schools.
    Ashley Morben.JPG
    Ashley Morben, Detroit Lakes High School Class of 2011.
    Contributed / Ashley Morben
  • Ashley Morben, DLHS Class of 2011 and current kindergarten music specialist at Mounds View Public Schools.

These conductors will work throughout the day with vocal music students in the Ninth Grade Choir, Varsity Choir, Concert Choir and Laker Singers, rehearsing the music to be performed at the festival's grand finale concert, which takes place at 7:30 p.m. in the high school's Ralph Anderson Gymnasium.
The goals of the festival are:

  • To provide the incentive to all music students to strive for the highest musical standards.
  • To give recognition to and support for musical excellence among Detroit Lakes Public Schools' music students.
  • To raise the musician’s level of awareness of higher performance standards through their exposure to effective guest conductors, advanced literature, and their equally talented fellow musicians.
  • To provide all participating music teachers an opportunity to share mutual goals and ideas.

In addition to the guest conductors, Larson has invited all Detroit Lakes vocal music students past and present to take part in a mass choir performance at the end of the concert. Though the music for all three songs to be included in the massed choir segment has been posted on Potvin's Facebook page, Larson said there will also be a mass choir rehearsal on Tuesday.
The All-City Choir Festival, Larson explained, is a program designed to develop musical artistry and inspire excellence in every student while experiencing the impact of choral participation on singers and their community.

The singers perform for an audience of parents, family members, and friends in the Detroit Lakes High School Ralph Anderson Gymnasium.

Tickets are available at the door; students in grades five and under are admitted free of charge.

"Our goals as music educators are to develop music literacy in all students using performance (singing and playing), listening, and composing," Larson said. "The All-City performance by these young musicians is a demonstration of their music learning."

If you go

What: Detroit Lakes All-City Music Festival Grand Concert
When: Tuesday, April 5, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Ralph Anderson Gymnasium, Detroit Lakes High School
How: Tickets will be sold at the door; all students in grades 5 and under are admitted free of charge.

A reporter at Detroit Lakes Newspapers since relocating to the community in October 2000, Vicki was promoted to Community News Lead for the Detroit Lakes Tribune and Perham Focus on Jan. 1, 2022. She has covered pretty much every "beat" that a reporter can be assigned, from county board and city council to entertainment, crime and even sports. Born and raised in Madelia, Minnesota, she is a graduate of Hamline University, from which she earned a bachelor's degree in English literature (writing concentration). You can reach her at
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