Axel Theimer

Born in 1946 in St. Johann in Tirol, Austria, music has been part of Axel Theimer’s life from the very beginning. It started with folksongs sung around the campfire, while hiking and at evening gatherings. His parents were managers of a children’s retreat/vacation camp, operated by the health services of the city of Innsbruck. A first milestone was when an old upright piano was delivered to the farm-like setting by horse cart halfway up a 7000-foot mountain in the Austrian Alps. Receiving piano lessons (at age four) also meant walking down into the village for about an hour every other week to see the teacher.

Acceptance into the Vienna Boy’s Choir at age seven prompted a move to Vienna. Axel joined one of the touring groups when he was nine and remained in the ensemble until age fourteen. Members of the choir have the option to stay in the boarding school (special building for graduates) until finishing High School. Both he and his brother decided to make use of this opportunity, which allowed him to remain musically active and continue voice and piano lessons plus the addition of cello/bass study.

After serving what was then mandatory time in the Austrian armed services, he enrolled in the Veterinary School of the University of Vienna. Despite the demanding schedule, he continued his involvement in music with the “Chorus Viennensis” (adult male chorus of the Vienna Boy’s Choir), and after a year became interim director, preparing them for special concerts and recording projects, including Bach’s B-minor Mass and St. John’s Passion with the Concentus Musicus. Membership in other choirs, as well as serving as an ‘extra’ singer in the Vienna State Opera Chorus provided the opportunity to observe and sing under the direction of the great conductors of that era.

In 1969, the invitation to join the Music Department at St. John’s University came as a total surprise…. Gerhard Track, at St. John’s since 1958 and one of Axel’s directors in the Boy’s Choir, had decided to move to Colorado. He recommended Axel for the job.

After accepting this position at 23, he completed a B.A. at SJU – while serving as an Instructor of Music at St. John’s - and earned an M.F.A. (Choral conducting – student of Dr.Thomas Lancaster) ) and D.M.A. (Vocal Performance – student of Prof. Roy Schuessler) from the University of Minnesota. His duties at St. John’s and St. Ben’s have included directing choral ensembles, teaching theory, piano, voice, conducting, vocal pedagogy, diction, and vocal and choral literature. In addition to directing the Men’s Chorus he is also founding director of the two colleges’ mixed voiced “Chamber Choir,” and the non-auditioned “All-College Choir”, as well as founder and artistic director of Twin Cities-based “Kantorei,” founder and music director of Central Minnesota’s  “Amadeus Chamber Symphony”, is on the faculty and Board of Directors of “The VoiceCare Network and is Artistic Director/Conductor of the National Catholic Youth Choir. The Chamber Choir and Men’s Chorus tour nationally every year and abroad every four years.

Axel retains active membership and has served in leadership roles in several professional organizations. His involvement in founding and hosting events includes the annual MN-ACDA Men’s/Women’s Choir Festival, MN-NATS Auditions, MN-ACDA “Dialogue” (a chance for choral conductors to share knowledge in a retreat setting) and hosting the MMEA All-State Choirs. In addition to conducting choral festivals, honors choirs and all state choirs throughout the United States, Japan and China, he has presented interest sessions at state, regional and national conventions of various professional organizations and continues to appear as a vocal soloist, serve as an adjudicator and offer workshops here and abroad. Axel cherished his opportunity to conduct the 1998 MMEA All-State Men’s Choir and was thrilled to be invited to direct that choir again in the summer of 2011. He continues to work with singers of all ages through education outreach events with Kantorei and his choirs at St. John’s/St. Ben’s. He and his colleagues at the VoiceCare Network provide mentorship to many Minnesota music educators and others nationally and internationally. ACDA of Minnesota named him “Choral Director of the Year” in 2001 and in 2004 he was inducted into the MMEA Hall of Fame. His love for folk music is evident in the release of two CDs featuring folksongs, lullabies and Christmas carols from Austria and Germany, a collaborative effort with guitarist and faculty colleague O. Nick Raths, founding member of the Minneapolis Guitar Quartet. Axel’s choral compositions and arrangements for women’s, men’s, mixed and children’s choirs are published by Alliance Publications, Inc. in Wisconsin.