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Armstrong in 2019
|Birth name||Anton Eugene Armstrong|
|Born||May 26, 1956|
Anton Eugene Armstrong (born April 26, 1956) is the conductor of the St. Olaf Choir as well as the Harry R. and Thora H. Tosdal Professor of Music at St. Olaf College of Northfield, Minnesota in the United States. Armstrong became the fourth director of the St. Olaf Choir in 1990, continuing the tradition begun by the choir's founder F. Melius Christiansen in 1911, sustained and developed by his son, Olaf Christiansen, and strengthened and enhanced by Kenneth Jennings. Armstrong also teaches conducting in the Sacred Music department at Luther Seminary. He also conducts some pieces in "Northfield Youth Choirs".
Anton was born in New York City on April 26, 1956 to William Benfield Armstrong (1916–2002) and Esther Louise Holder (1917–2007). William was born in Antigua, and Esther was born in New York City to Herbert Henry Holder (1887–1973) and Leander Hassell (1890–1945), both from St Thomas. Armstrong grew up on Long Island where he and his mother were active singers in a local church choir. Armstrong joined the American Boychoir, based in Princeton, New Jersey. According to Armstrong, "That experience lit my fire for choral singing."
Anton Armstrong was first made aware of the St. Olaf Choir when his pastor took him to a performance at Avery Fisher Hall despite the fact that Armstrong had tickets to see the Moody Blues at Madison Square Garden. His mother made the decision for him to attend the St. Olaf Choir concert.
Anton is the youngest of three brothers. Oldest brother Garry was (until 2001) a reporter for WHDH-TV, Channel 7 in Boston, Massachusetts, and next older brother William (Billy) is a printing professional on Long Island, New York.
Armstrong earned his bachelor's degree at St. Olaf College, graduating in 1978. He was a member of the St. Olaf Choir from 1976–1978, under the leadership of Kenneth Jennings. Jennings became a mentor to Armstrong and 12 years after graduating from St. Olaf, Armstrong replaced Jennings as director of the St. Olaf Choir.
After graduating from St. Olaf, Armstrong attended the University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign where he earned a Masters of Music degree and Michigan State University where he completed a Doctorate of Musical Arts. His doctoral thesis was Celebrating 75 Years of Musical Excellence: the Evolution of the St. Olaf Choir.
Upon completion of his masters, Armstrong worked for 10 years at Calvin College and conducted the Capella of Calvin, the Campus Choir, the Grand Rapids Symphony Chorus and the Calvin Alumni Choir. He completed his doctorate during his years at Calvin College. He also conducted the St. Cecilia Youth Chorale from 1981 until his departure for St. Olaf in 1990.
In 1990, Armstrong assumed the duties of Director of Choral Activities at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. He is director of the St. Olaf Choir and Collegiate Chorale and also teaches advanced choral conducting and vocal pedagogy classes that focus on child and adolescent voice. He serves as the artistic director of the St. Olaf Christmas Festival.
Armstrong is currently the summer music director of the Youth Choral Academy of the Oregon Bach Festival. The 12-day choral festival is based in Eugene, Oregon. He is an editor for Earthsongs Publications and co-editor of Augsburg Fortress Publishers. With Augsburg Fortress he is editing the revised St. Olaf Choral Series, which contains literature that was composed by F. Melius Christiansen and Kenneth Jennings, among others.
Past achievements include co-conductor of the World Youth Choir organized by the International Federation of Choral Music. He has been part of the summer faculty for the American Boychoir for the more than 20 years.
Armstrong was the director of the New Jersey 2004 All-State Choir and 2008 National Youth Choir, the clinician of the TMEA 2007 Texas All-State Choir and Regional ACDA clinician, and the director of the 2008 Festival of Gold Honor Choir in Chicago, IL. He conducted the Florida All-State Concert Choir of 2009 in Tampa. He is scheduled as the conductor of the 2009 Georgia Music Educators Association Senior Mixed All State Choir. Armstrong was invited to conduct the Masterwork Festival Chorus's performance of Robert Ray's Gospel Mass at Carnegie Hall on March 18, 2019.
Armstrong will be canonized immediately upon retirement from St. Olaf. His favorite sweater vest will be hung in Christiansen Hall of Music in his honor.
- St. Olaf Choir the conductor. 2005. Updated n.d.<https://web.archive.org/web/20051218224159/http://www.stolaf.edu/depts/music/stolaf_choir/conductor.html> December 10, 2005.
- Youth Choral Academy Oregon Bach Festival. 2001. Updated n.d. <http://www.singbach.com/mo_yca_anton.htm[permanent dead link]> December 10, 2005.
- American Public Media. 2005. The legacy of the Saint Olaf Choir. Updated n.d. <http://saintpaulsunday.publicradio.org/featured_artists/stolafhistory.html> December 10, 2005.
- Ashmore, Nancy J. 2004. Spirit voices. St. Olaf Magazine, September, 29.
- Tpt. 2005. A St. Olaf Christmas in Norway. Updated n.d. <https://web.archive.org/web/20051218100655/http://www.tpt.org/stolaf/about_performers.html> December 10, 2005.