The Rosemount High School Choral Arts program comprises seven curricular choirs that meet during the day and six co-curricular choirs that rehearse outside of the school day. The curricular choirs include Cantabile (ninth-grade treble chorus), Cantemus (ninth-grade tenor-bass chorus), Bella Voce (intermediate treble, grades 10 through 12), Vox Nova (intermediate tenor-bass, grades 10 through 12), Bel Canto (advanced treble, grades 10 through 12), Vivace (advanced tenor-bass, grades 10 through 12), and Concert Choir (advanced mixed, grades 11 and 12).
Our co-curricular choirs include Da Capo (freshman/sophomore select mixed chamber ensemble), Aurora (select treble singers, grades 10 through 12), Luminos (select tenor and bass singers, grades 10 through 12), and Chamber Singers (select mixed ensemble of 24 singers, grades 11 and 12).
The program emphasizes the development of comprehensive, lifelong musical skills for all singers enrolled in the program. Each year, RHS vocalists are chosen for participation in the Minnesota Music Educators All-State Choirs, as well as for various honor choirs throughout the United States. Many RHS alumni continue to sing at the collegiate level and several have chosen careers in music.
Numerous choral performances are given each year from September to June. Choir students and staff are also heavily involved in a number of RHS Theatre Arts productions, including OnStage: an annual musical revue show and a Broadway musical. In addition, the music and dance department sponsors a dual summer camp, VocalMotion and Ovation, for students in grades two through five and six through eight. The overall choral program at RHS has grown significantly, doubling in enrollment since 2000.
1976 – Presented “Oklahoma” as the first big musical production in RHS Student Center
1977 – Chamber Singers sing for MN State School Board
1977 – Presented “The King and I” at the District Theatre (AVHS Theater)
1979 – First Dakota Valley Choral Festival
1980 – Additional staff hired
1981 – Chamber Choirs sing for Schmitt Music Clinic
1981 – First Madrigal Dinner
1982 – First OnStage production
1982 – Chamber Singers tour to Japan
1984 – Chamber Singers performance at Macalester College Choral Invitational
1984 – Concert Choir performance at St. Olaf Choral Festival
1985 – Treble Choir performance at MMEA
1985 – Concert Choir performance at Luther College Dorian Choral Festival
1986 – Choir tour to New York
1988 – Concert Choir performance at ACDA-MN Fall Conference
1989 – Concert Choir performance at St. Olaf Choral Festival
1989 – Choir tour to Europe
1994 – Choir tour to Europe with ISD196 sister schools
1995 – Concert Choir performance at Dorian Vocal Festival
1995 – Concert Choir performance at ACDA-MN Fall Conference
1996 – Opening of the RHS Performing Arts Center
1999 – Concert Choir performance at ACDA-MN Fall Conference
1999 – Choir tour to Europe with ISD 196 sister schools
2003 – Additional staff hired
2004 – Concert Choir performance at Luther College Dorian Choral Festival
2005 – Choir tour to Italy with Eagan High School
2005 – Concert Choir in concert with Chanticleer
2007 – RHS Choir tour to Germany, Austria, and Czech Republic
2007 – Concert Choir performance at St. Olaf Choral Festival
2007 – Women’s Ensemble performance at Choral Arts Finale (Orchestra Hall)
2008 – Concert Choir performance at MMEA midwinter clinic
2009 – RHS Choir tour to Italy
2010 – Concert Choir performance at UW - Eau Claire Choral Festival
2010 – Men’s Ensemble performance at Choral Arts Finale (Orchestra Hall)
2010 – Concert Choir performance with The Singers - Minnesota Choral Artists
2011 – Concert Choir performance at Luther College Dorian Choral Festival
2011 – Chamber Singers performance in Commissioning Consortium at ACDA-MN Fall Conference
2012 – RHS Choir tour to France and Spain
2013 – Concert Choir performance at MMEA midwinter clinic
2013 – Irish Belles and Bella Voce participation in VocalEssence Witness program
2014 – Irish Bards performance at St. Cloud State University’s Real Men Sing Festival
2014 – Irish Belles and Bella Voce participation in VocalEssence Witness program
2015 – Concert Choir performance at Luther College Dorian Vocal Festival
2015 – Concert Choir performance at Wartburg College Meistersinger Festival
2015 – Irish Belles and Bella Voce participation in VocalEssence Witness program
2015 – RHS Choir tour to France
Rosemount High School choir students have the unique opportunity to study with highly respected voice teachers from the Twin Cities area. These independently contracted instructors use the facilities at Rosemount High School during the day and after school to provide tuition-based vocal instruction to individual students.
Why take private lessons?
Students in curricular choirs are required to participate in individual vocal instruction in some capacity as part of their class grade. Each student receives two or three 15-minute lessons each trimester with his or her choir instructor free of charge. The choir instructor is able to get to know the student's voice, but the total amount and extent of instruction is very limited by the brevity and infrequency of lessons.
By contrast, students who study with the independently contracted voice teachers have one 25-minute lesson every week – approximately 30 lessons per year, at an average of three to four lessons per month – which is up to eight times the amount of instruction they receive in three trimesters of curricular lessons. This allows for very careful investigation of each student's voice and time to explore vocal growth. The regular schedule of lessons develops a beneficial regimen of practice, skills acquisition, and study of vocal literature.
Private voice study doesn’t just lend itself to improved singing. It also helps students learn better study and memorization skills, improve the quality of their speaking voice, hone their performance skills, learn more effective facial and body expression, increase their creative and artistic awareness, and gain more overall confidence and poise in front of others.
Taking lessons through the private voice program at RHS has at least two other significant advantages: cost and convenience. The tuition rates for the private voice program at RHS are very competitive with private lesson rates elsewhere around the Twin Cities. And taking private lessons once a week during choir class is much easier than making extra time and arranging transportation to take lessons elsewhere after school.
Do you do fundraisers, and if so do the profits go to the program or to individual students?
We do a number of fundraisers every year (more when preparing for a big event like an international trip), and in almost every case the profits go directly to individual students who participate in the fundraisers. Only our annual coupon book sale benefits the program as a whole, and students who sell more than the two-book minimum can actually earn profit for themselves.
Where is the money kept? Do students have individual accounts?
Per school district policy, all fundraising profits go into our program’s Student Activity Account. We use an online system called Charms to keep track of how much money in our SA Account was raised by each student. So every student has a running balance within the RHS Choir SA Account, and for the sake of simplicity we refer to that balance as their individual “choir account” or “Charms account.”
How do I find out how much money I’ve earned, and how can I use it?
Charms – the online management system that allows us to keep records of students’ fundraising profits –has an interface for students and parents. When you log into Charms, you can see how much you’ve earned from each fundraiser. Charms also allows you to manage the money you’ve earned by transferring funds to pay for things like choir field trips, solo-ensemble contest fees, choir apparel, and more. (You can print records and receipts from Charms.)
2022-23 will be Laura's 20th year at Rosemount High School, where she teaches Vivace, Bella Voce, beginning music theory and AP Music Theory. Previously, she spent four years in Fresno, California, teaching middle school choir, high school choir, high school band, piano, and music theory. Laura is a graduate of Luther College, where she earned her undergraduate degree in vocal and instrumental music education, and of Northern Arizona University, where she completed a master’s degree in choral conducting and did additional master’s coursework in music theory and composition. She also studied Arts and Cultural Management at Saint Mary’s University of Minnesota.
Additionally, Laura has served as a church choir director, music director and pit orchestra conductor for theater productions at the elementary, middle, high school, and college levels, including several RHS productions. She also plays the oboe – her major instrument in college and primary “voice” for most of her early life – though pretty infrequently, as it's hard to make time for it. An introvert, Laura most cherishes the work she does with individuals and small groups, especially when it involves helping students discover and develop their own unique creative and academic gifts. She is grateful for the new things she learns every day from the people around her, and feels incredibly fortunate to work in a field abounding in light-bulb and goosebump moments.
Gina Stutzman Toso is currently in her twenty-third year as vocal music instructor at Rosemount High School. Mrs. Toso directs the Cantabile freshman treble choir, Bel Canto advanced treble choir, the Da Capo choir, and the RHS Chamber Singers. She was also the vocal director for the school's annual musical for 13 years.
Mrs. Toso holds a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, a Master of Music degree in Choral Music from Arizona State University, and presently holds the status of ABD in the Arizona State University Doctor of Musical Arts (D.M.A.) program. She has conducted choirs at the post-secondary level serving as the Women’s Choir Director at Minnesota State University-Mankato and as the Women’s Choir Director at Arizona State University (Tempe, AZ). She is a member of the National Association for Music Education (NAfME), the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA), and she served on the board of the Nebraska Choral Director’s Association. Mrs. Toso is an accomplished vocal soloist who enjoys teaching private voice lessons from her home and she is frequently called upon to adjudicate vocal clinics and competitions in the region. She is currently the soprano section leader for the National Lutheran Choir.
As an educator and parent, Mrs. Toso is interested in the development of all students. For this reason, she serves on Rosemount High School’s Equity Team, Educational Improvement Plan Team, and has served on the district committee for writing the district music curriculum. Her favorite part of teaching is watching her students grow as musicians and as young adults.
Mrs. Toso resides in Rosemount with her husband, Nathan Toso, and her two children, Peter (19) and Ella (15).