Torkelson, Aiello will be honored by USD music department

Torkelson, Aiello will be honored by USD music department Vermillion native Carla Connors will sing a medley of Irish traditional songs, accompanied by Susan Keith Gray, piano, and the USD Community Orchestra, as the Department of Music and College of Fine Arts celebrate the careers of two outstanding individuals, Professors Frank Aiello and Larry Torkelson. The free concert will be at 3 p.m. on Sunday, April 28 in Slagle Auditorium.

Professor Frank Aiello, longstanding senior member of the vocal division, will retire after 33 years in the department of music. His loss will be especially deeply felt because of the retirement last spring of Professor Larry Torkelson after a tenure of 30 years.

Coming to USD in 1968 and 1971 respectively, these wonderful musicians and dedicated teachers have touched thousands of lives, and their students have taken their influence with them to the far corners of our land and beyond. Aiello was born in Des Moines, IA. He earned bachelor's and master's degrees in music from Drake University in Des Moines, and a doctor of music arts degree from the University of Oklahoma. He also studied with Grant Williams, professor of voice at North Texas State University; Norman Tattersall, fellow of the Royal Academy of Music, England; and Margaret Swain, coach-accompanist for the late Dame Eva Turner, Royal Academy, London.

Aiello performed extensively, including at the Kennedy Center in 1976. In addition to performing and teaching, he has been very active as an adjudicator, both regionally and nationally, and maintains a full schedule of clinics, master classes, and festivals. He has served on the national Music Teacher's National Association board for vocal literature and contest requirements.

Aiello's students have won Music Teacher's National Association contests at the national level, and Metropolitan Opera auditions at the state, regional and national levels. Several former students are professional performers in Europe and the United States, and many others are teaching in colleges and public schools. In 1994 he was honored as recipient of the coveted Belbas-Larson Award for Teaching Excellence at USD. He also twice served as Department of Music Chair, and, with Professor Dennis Ondrozeck, guided European study tours for USD students.

Torkelson retired last spring after 30 years at The University of South Dakota, where he was director of choral activities, conducting the USD Chamber Singers, Men's and Women's Chorus, and University Choir. He also taught voice, choral conducting, choral literature, and vocal-choral methods. He continues to be in great demand as a guest conductor and clinician throughout the region, and has presented concerts and clinics in 11 states.

An alumnus of The University of South Dakota, Torkelson took his ensemble far and wide, including the North Central regional conferences of the Music Educators National Conference and American Choral Directors Association. He made his Carnegie Hall debut on April 16, 2000, as conductor of the Upper Midwest Youth Chorale comprised of 350 singers from South Dakota, Iowa, and Colorado. Under his direction, the USD Chamber Singers became a premiere ensemble in the region, and recorded choral selections for two books � A Concise Introduction to Music Listening and The Understanding of Music. They also recorded a special holiday broadcast for South Dakota Public Television, and a CD entitled Songs of USD Plus Holiday and Concert Selections. Torkelson served the state as president of the South Dakota Choral Directors Association for three years, and was awarded the status of emeritus professor upon leaving USD last spring.

To celebrate the careers of these two distinguished musicians and educators the department of music and college of Fine Arts will establish a scholarship endowment in their honor. Two special events are planned to recognize their long tenure at The University of South Dakota, and the countless lives they have touched.

The scholarship fund will be officially announced at the April 28 concert of the USD Community Orchestra, at 3 p.m. in Slagle Auditorium. This free concert, an event in the College of Fine Arts "Ireland and the Americas" celebration, will feature USD alumnus and Vermillion native Carla Connors, who will sing a medley of Irish traditional songs.

Connors was a student of Aiello and sang in Torkelson's choirs while at USD. After graduation from The University of South Dakota, Connors earned masters and doctoral degrees at the University of Michigan. Her numerous accomplishments include concerts at Carnegie Hall and Weill Recital Hall in New York, and featured roles in major opera companies, including the New York City Opera, Glimmerglass, Atlanta, Orlando, Opera Carolina, and Chautauqua.

Later in the year, on Oct. 12, 2002, Dakota Days, choral alumni will return to once again sing under the baton of Torkelson. After the football game the College of Fine Arts will sponsor a picnic on the college grounds between Old Main and Slagle Hall, after which participants will briefly rehearse and then present their concert, accompanied by the USD Chamber Orchestra. All those who would like to participate in this event should contact the department of music, or return the interest card that has been mailed to them previously.

The department of music extends an invitation to all who know them to come to these events to celebrate the careers of Aiello and Torkelson. For additional information please contact Richard Rognstad at (605)677-5722 or rrognsta@

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