Robert Peterson

Bob Peterson was born and raised in Cambridge, Minnesota and was fortunate to have Dr. Maurice L. LeGault as his high school choral director.  LeGault introduced him to his college voice teacher, Professor Roy Schuessler at the University of Minnesota, during Peterson’s junior year.  LeGault arranged for Bob to begin voice lessons that year on a regular basis.  LeGault also introduced Bob to professional choral singing with the Frederick Hillary Chorale.  He remembers attending several concerts while LeGault was singing with the Chorale. 

Bob was selected for the All-State Choir in 1961, under the direction of Dr. Charles Hirt.  This was a life changing event for Bob, and his career path was taking shape.

He began his studies in vocal music education at the University of Minnesota the next year.  Schuessler remained his voice teacher, mentor and friend for the next 22 years.

Bob’s path to becoming a high school choral director deviated slightly during his sophomore year at the University.  After appearing on a the Perry Como Kraft Music Hour national TV show with a barbershop quartet from the U, he heard about a singing group in downtown Minneapolis called the “Shiek’s Singing Sextet..” This was a professional singing group performing selections from Broadway musicals at Shiek’s Café. Bob loved this singing job and getting paid to do something fun.  He remained a full-time professional singer for the next six years – through his Master’s degree.  Bob credits the U. of M. with their flexibility in his schedule to accommodate  singing jobs.

Bob graduated from Minnesota in 1966 with a B.S. in Music Education.  He was also awarded the “Outstanding Senior Student Award” in vocal Music.  He began his graduate studies immediately and was offered a teaching position at University High School.  This continued for two years until he lost his graduate school draft deferment in 1968. This is when his career path got back on track.  He was offered a music teaching position at Johnson Senior High School located on an Air Force Base in Japan.  Bob loved this job, plus building a program from the bottom up.  After his first year, he came home for the summer to turn in and defend his Master’s Thesis, plus returning to his singing job for two more shows. His Master’s now complete, back in Japan, Bob decided to propose to his college sweetheart, Pat (piano, voice major, just completing her teaching degree at the U, and singing at the Edgewater Club in Minneapolis).  She accepted and they were married in Japan.  Pat began teaching in the Junior High School two days later and remained a vocal music teacher for over 30 years.

They left Japan in 1972 when Bob was offered a position in Brussels, Belgium at the International School of Brussels.  After a fabulous year, they transferred back to the U.S. Military Schools where Bob was offered a position at Munich American High School. Upon his resignation from the Department of Defense Schools, Bob received  Distinguished Service Awards from both the U.S. Air Force and the U.S. Army.

After three wonderful years in Munich, Bob was offered the choral music position at Edina Senior High School. His plan was to remain for five years, finish his PhD and move on.  He stayed 22 years.  Roy Schuessler assisted Bob in setting up a private voice program that would employ 8 to 12 voice teachers annually (most were graduate students at the U.)  This strong voice program became the core of his choral program.  Bob still credits these fine teachers for much of the success of his program at Edina.

Diana Leland was on the choral faculty in Edina when Bob began.  She immediately got him involved in ACDA (surprise) and talked him into running for President in 1987.   After his term as President, Bob was a Repertoire and Standards Chair from 1990-1993. 

In 1991, Bob was granted a sabbatical from Edina to complete his course work.  While at the University that year, Bob conducted the Men’s Chorus and assisted Tom Lancaster with the Symphonic Chorus.

During his tenure at Edina, his choirs performed at state, regional and national conventions, plus toured nationally and internationally with major trips to Europe and Asia.

In 1988, Bob received the first “Outstanding Teacher Award” from the faculty at Edina High School.  In 1994, Bob was presented the ACDA of Minnesota Choral Director of the Year Award.  Also that year, Bob completed his PhD in Music Education with an emphasis on choral music. His dissertation centered around his research of solo voice instruction in high school choral programs, and led to the development of the computer software called “Vivace.” (now “Smart Music”) Bob became the primary clinician for that product and traveled extensively around the country giving workshops and presenting materials. He also credits Minnesota ACDA for supporting his research on solo voice with many opportunities for workshops and presentations.

Most recently, Bob’s 150 voice men’s choir of “Lads and Dads” from Edina High School performed at the North Central ACDA Convention in Minneapolis (1998).

Bob retired from Edina in 1998.  His thought was to continue his work with “SmartMusic” and begin looking for another choral opportunity.  He became the conductor of the Minneapolis Commodore Chorus (1998-1999) and had some fun directing this chorus of Barbershop singers.  That same fall, Macalester College called looking for a one-year replacement in the Choral Department.  The software work was put on hold while he had his “dream job” of being a college choral director. After the one-year appointment, Macalester did not know what to do with Bob, so they made him Chair of the Music Department, and promoted him to Visiting Professor of Music.  During that time, Bob assisted Dr. Robert Morris with the Choral Deparment, directed main stage musicals, taught a variety of courses, and chaired the department in a critical time of transition.  In 2004, Bob was appointed Director of Choral Activities and remained in that position until he retired (once again) in 2008.  The Macalester Choir toured extensively in the U.S., and, in 2008, Bob brought this wonderful choir to Japan to relive his earliest memories of being a choral director.

During his first year at Macalester, Bob was introduced to Msgr. Richard Schuler, director of the Twin Cities Catholic Chorale (TCCC) and Pastor at the Church of Saint Agnes in St. Paul.  Msgr. Schuler had gained international notoriety with his performances of major Latin masses from the 18th and 19th centuries during the actual setting of the Catholic mass.  These masses were performed with professional orchestra, soloists and the Chorale.  Hearing this ensemble for the first time was life-changing for Bob.  Two of his professors from the University were soloists and the orchestra was filled with Minnnesota Orchestra players that Bob had come to know through the years.   Bob immediately joined this fabulous ensemble to sing these great works on a regular basis (30 per year).  Schuler asked Bob to conduct a few Masses the following year.  Thus began a mentorship program that lasted until Schuler’s death in 2007.  Over the next few years, Msgr. Schuler would turn more and more masses over to Bob.  In 2003, Schuler turned the Chorale over to Bob.  He remains the Music Director of TCCC.

In 2009, Bob realized he missed teaching high school age students and took a position at a newly formed school, The Chesterton Academy.  Choir was required for all students (what a fabulous concept).  The school began with 8 students, but has grown to well over 100 today.  Bob remains on the faculty at Chesterton, but only conducts a select chamber choir, and teaches private voice lessons.  Another retirement is not in the future – it’s only been 47 years!

Bob and Pat (married 44 years this fall) live in Chanhassen, but spend a great deal of time on Lake Ida in Alexandria.  Their daughter, Laura and her husband Brian, live in West Lafayette, Indiana where she teaches interior design at Purdue University.  They have three beautiful daughters.