Luther College Chips

Alums welcomed back as faculty: Mark Potvin (‘01) in music department

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Mark Potvin graduated in 2001 and sang for both the ensembles he now conducts.

Mark Potvin graduated in 2001 and sang for both the ensembles he now conducts.

Photo Courtesy of Mark Potvin (‘01)

Photo Courtesy of Mark Potvin (‘01)

Mark Potvin graduated in 2001 and sang for both the ensembles he now conducts.

Karl Nycklemoe, Staff Writer

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To current Norsemen and Cathedral choir participants: could you see yourselves directing the very ensembles you sing in today? Visiting Instructor of Music Mark Potvin (‘01) did just that. Potvin has assumed the role as the new conductor for Norsemen and Cathedral choir. Potvin, himself a former member of Norsemen and Cathedral, is excited to enter this new role.

“As an alum, conducting Norsemen and Cathedral has been an indescribable joy,” Potvin said. “Singing with these two ensembles as a Luther student shaped who I am as a teacher and musician more than virtually any other musical experience I had.”

The job opened last year due to Director of Choral Activities Andrew Last’s (‘97) appointment as Nordic Choir conductor. Assistant Professor of Music Jennaya Robison (‘96) stepped into the role as conductor of Collegiate Chorale while maintaining her leadership of Aurora Choir.

After graduating Luther Potvin conducted at Princeton High School, gained his Master’s Degree at St. Cloud State University, and is now pursuing a doctorate in musical education at Boston University. Upon hearing that a position in the music department had opened, three things led Potvin back to the Oneota valley: the sense of vocation, the desire to train musicians and future music teachers, and his love of Luther College.

“I have a pretty strong pull in my heart to help pre-service music teachers find their center as artists and pedagogs,” Potvin said.

His passion for music and teaching future musicians and educators is also well-recieved by students. Cathedral Choir member Sanna Berdahl (‘20) shared the positive impact he is already bringing.

“He’s so passionate and excited,” Berdahl said. “Even in our first rehearsals he was getting down into finessing the pieces and making sure we really knew what we were doing, and immediately getting into the emotion of the song.”

Placing emphasis on the emotion of a piece is a part of Potvin’s vision for the upcoming academic year. For Potvin, music is more than just notes off the page. It allows performers and listeners alike to explore their individuality.

“I hope to empower students to identify [their] sense of identity,” Potvin said. “I hope to explore who we are in our multidimensional state as human beings with our hearts, minds, spirits, and voice.”

Along with aiding personal development, Potvin hopes to solidify a particular group identity for each of the choirs. For Norsemen, his first tangible goal is to increase the number of singers in each section by the second semester. He also hopes to foster a sense of community among his students, which he experienced during his time as a student in Norsemen.

“[On] my very first day of Norsemen at Luther, I felt invigorated as a musician, inspired as an artist, and connected to a community,” Potvin said. “It caused me to recall people I met in Norsemen that, 20 years later, are my closest friends.”

This idea of community is reflected in Potvin’s positive and enthusiastic attitude that he brings to every rehearsal. Norsemen member Colton Ironside (‘21) has felt the positivity from Potvin.

“Potvin is very good at negating any negative feeling,” Ironside said. “Any time something goes wrong he instantly picks it up and helps us learn from it.”

Potvin’s positivity is not all that his students notice. His passion for music stands out as well.

“He deeply cares about music,” Berdahl said. “Not just singing the notes correctly, but the power of the music.”

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