Bemidji Choirs Kick Off 2018 Spring Tour March 16 in Moorhead

Bemidji State University’s Bemidji Choir and Chamber Singers will begin their annual spring concert tour March 16 in Mankato, culminating with a March 20 home concert in Bemidji.

Download tour program

Under the direction of Dr. Dwight Jilek, assistant professor of music, the tour will include daytime performances and workshops at local high schools followed by public concerts in the evenings. The tour dates are:

  • March 16, 7:30 p.m.: St. Joseph’s Catholic Church, 218 10th St. South, Moorhead, Minn.
  • March 17, 7:30 p.m.: St. Mary’s Cathedral, 25 8th Ave. South, St. Cloud, Minn.
  • March 18, 7 p.m.: St. Olaf Catholic Church, 215 S. 8th St., Minneapolis, Minn.
  • March 19, 7:30 p.m.: St. Agnes Church, 210 Division St., Walker, Minn.
  • March 20, 7:30 p.m.: First Lutheran Church, 900 Bemidji Ave N., Bemidji, Minn.

Jilek said the choir is developing a rotation to visit multiple areas in the northern Minnesota region, and this year’s tour stops were selected from areas in which BSU has traditionally recruited music students — and where music alumni currently call home. The Walker concert is hosted by renowned costume designer Fred Rogers, who has worked with the Department of Music on both its Madrigal Dinners and Opera Theater productions.

All concerts are free of charge and open to the public. Free-will offerings will be taken at all three locations to support the choir’s planned spring 2018 international tour to the Baltics.

This year, the BSU choirs have performed in support of mental health awareness and to advocate for suicide prevention and at a Martin Luther King Jr. remembrance event on campus and as a group are preparing for their spring tour of the Baltics. The 19-song set list for this year’s tour reflects all of these activities, along with classical and sacred choral music standards.

“Part of the beauty of going on tour is that it not only provides essential professional growth for our students, but also the opportunity to put together everything you’ve worked on and present it in a program,” Jilek said. “Suicide prevention and mental health have been at the forefront of our discussions and performances all year, we have our upcoming Baltics tour, and the MLK event featured two of the more famous composers to come out of Bemidji State. It’s an opportunity to take an audience through multiple time periods and ideas and feelings and emotions, and those are some of the more rewarding and fun parts of a tour like this.”

During the tour, the BSU choirs also will make several stops at regional high schools for performances and workshops. BSU will visit Fargo North, Fargo Shanley and Fargo South high schools in North Dakota on March 15-16, and Staples-Motley High School on March 19.

Dr. Dwight Jilek

Dr. Dwight Jilek joined the Bemidji State faculty in 2016 as just the fourth director since BSU choral music programs began in 1937. He came to Bemidji from the University of North Texas, where he received the school’s 2016 Outstanding Graduate Conductor award, conducted UNT’s Concert Choir and was conducting associate with the Dallas Symphony Chorus. Jilek arrived at North Texas in 2013 after completing his master’s degree at Michigan State, and prior to that he spent six years as vocal music director at Northfield (Minn.) High School. There, he oversaw five curricular and four extracurricular choirs. Under his direction, the Northfield Concert Choir was accepted by audition to perform in the inaugural Minnesota American Choral Directors Association (ACDA) Choral Arts Finale in 2006, at the Dorian Choral Invitational and the Minnesota State ACDA Convention in 2007, and at the Minnesota Music Educators Association convention in 2008. Northfield also was a featured choir at the 2009 St. Olaf Choral Festival.

In addition to his doctorate from North Texas, Jilek has a bachelor’s degree in vocal music education from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn., and a master’s degree in choral conducting from Michigan State University.


The Bemidji Choir was founded in 1937 by Carl O. Thompson and has gained an international reputation for excellence. The choir has toured extensively throughout the United States and Europe, including performances at Carnegie Hall and in Austria, the Czech Republic, Germany, Hungary, Italy, Scotland, Switzerland and England. For nearly five decades, the choir has produced Bemidji State’s annual Madrigal Dinners.


The Chamber Singers is an ensemble of 17 singers chosen by audition from The Bemidji Choir. They specialize in early music from the ancient, Renaissance, Baroque, and Early Classical eras. During the fall semester, The Chamber Singers serve as the Royal Court for BSU’s annual Madrigal Dinners.

In 1996, The Chamber Singers performed in Carnegie Hall as the centerpiece of the inaugural National Madrigal Festival, and in 2002 they performed at the North Central Division Convention of the American Choral Directors Association in Des Moines, Iowa. The group returned to Carnegie Hall in April 2015 for the annual Gotham SINGS! Choral Showcase.

  • The Bemidji Choir on Tour | 2018 Spring Tour Program (PDF)

Bemidji State University, located amid the lakes and forests of northern Minnesota, occupies a wooded campus along the shore of Lake Bemidji. Enrolling more than 5,100 students, Bemidji State offers more than 80 undergraduate majors and eight graduate degrees encompassing arts, sciences and select professional programs. BSU is a member of the Minnesota State system of colleges and universities and has a faculty and staff of more than 550. The university’s Shared Fundamental Values include environmental stewardship, civic engagement and international and multicultural understanding.