Faculty and Staff
Lawrence Burnett holds a BM degree in vocal music education from Texas A & I University, a MM degree in choral conducting, vocal pedagogy, and vocal performance from Eastern New Mexico University, and a doctoral degree in choral conducting from the University of Texas. His professional background includes solo and stage work with numerous orchestras, choruses, and festivals throughout the country. In 1992, he was awarded the Governor's Award for African-Americans of Distinction in New York State. He is a member of many professional music organizations, including the Music Educators National Conference and the American Choral Directors Association, for which he has served as state, regional, and national chair of the Repertoire and Standards Committee on Ethnic and Multicultural Perspectives. For more information, visit his web page.
Benjamin Allen received the B.M.Ed. from Wartburg College. He has studied with C. Robert Larson, Donna Pegors, Lawrence Weller, and, in New York, with Bernard Taylor. He has performed as a soloist with numerous regional and national organizations including the Saint Paul Chamber Orchestra, the Minnesota Orchestra, the Detroit Symphony Orchestra, the Duluth-Superior Symphony Orchestra, and the Minnesota Opera. He has taught at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, Bethel University, Macalester College and the Minnesota Center for Arts Education. Ben is currently on the voice faculty and coordinator of the voice department at The International Music Camp. His interest in understanding the "cultural voice" to better serve the needs of international students who don't have experience with Western Vocal concepts, led him to become involved with the East African community in Minneapolis where he sang in the Minnesota Swahili Choir. In several trips to Africa, Ben collected and transcribed original African choral music and several of his transcriptions of the works of Tanzanian composer, Israel Kagaruki have been published by Hal Leonard Publishing. Ben is a past Board Chair for a non-profit agency, Compassionate Solutions for African Development (COSAD) which undertakes economic development using the African choir as the target community within which to develop sustainable enterprise projects.
Rick Penning holds degrees from Luther College (B.A.), the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati (M.M.), the School of Music at the University of Minnesota (D.M.A.). He has a wide range of performing experience including operatic roles and concert appearances with leading American regional opera companies, orchestras and choral ensembles. In addition, he has served as the Interim Music Director at the Episcopal Cathedral of St. Mark, conducting the highly regarded Cathedral Choir in Sunday services and Concert Evensongs with orchestra and brass. He also maintains voice studios at Augsburg College and at his home.
VICTORIA VARGAS (Applied Music Instructor in Voice) holds a Master of Music degree in vocal performance from the Manhattan School of Music and a Bachelor of Music degree in vocal performance from the State University of New York at Fredonia. She has performed with some of the finest opera companies in the United States including the Opera Theater of Saint Louis, Chautauqua Opera, Sarasota Opera, the Ash Lawn-Highland Opera Festival, and was a resident artist with Minnesota Opera. Mrs. Vargas is also on the faculty at MacPhail Center for Music in Minneapolis.