The University of Oregon Alumni Association has selected renowned music educator Mr. Lynn Sjolund as its 2014 Distinguished Alumnus, the highest honor the UO bestows upon alumni. Sjolund will be recognized at the university’s Commencement exercises on June 16, and at a dinner for Commencement guests on June 15.
Sjolund, a resident of Medford, Ore., graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in Music in 1951 and a Master of Arts in Music in Education in 1956, both from the UO. The UO’s Distinguished Alumni Award, which was created in 1967, is bestowed annually upon an alumnus or alumna of the university who has served the nation, state or the university, or who has distinguished him- or herself by personal endeavor. The 2014 Commencement marks the first time a graduate of the university’s dance or music programs has been recognized with the award.
Sjolund’s career highlights demonstrate his dedication to music and community. From 1956 to 1986, Sjolund was choral music director and fine arts chair at Medford High School, where he established a reputation as one of the most outstanding choral conductors in the Northwest. Sjolund's ensembles appeared frequently at gatherings of music educators, and he was often asked to conduct honors choirs. Upon Sjolund's retirement from public school teaching in 1986, Medford High School named its auditorium in his honor. When the city of Medford wanted to transform a movie theatre into a long-needed performing arts center, Sjolund was asked to serve as acting executive director. Sjolund was founding director and conductor (1973-2013) of the Rogue Valley Chorale, a tenure spanning 40 years, and interrupted only by a position (1987-1990) as director of choral studies at Loyola University in New Orleans. Sjolund has conducted the Britt Festival Orchestra and the Rogue Valley Symphony in concerts with the Chorale.
Sjolund was named the 1997 Distinguished Alumnus of the UO School of Music and Dance, and served on the school’s volunteer Advancement Council from 2005 to 2007. He has also taught as part of the adjunct faculty of the UO School of Music and Dance, serving as interim director of the University Singers, the university’s premiere large choral ensemble. Honors and awards bestowed upon Sjolund include a 2002 Lifetime Achievement Award from the Arts Council of Southern Oregon, a 2002 Award of Merit from the Northwestern Division of the American Choral Directors Association, a 1993 Distinguished Service to Music Education Award from the Northwest Music Educators Association, and a 1990 Outstanding Music Teacher of the Year award from the National Federation of Interscholastic Music. Sjolund is the only person who has served twice as president of the Oregon Music Education Association. While Sjolund readily allows that being recognized with awards can be gratifying, “All those awards aren't nearly as important as the opportunity to make music with hundreds of students and grownups” over the course of his career, he said.
It was in Ludwigsburg, Germany, where Sjolund studied as the graduate assistant for the German Center for Music Education in 1969-70 that he met his wife, Doris, now founder and Director Emerita of the Rogue Valley Children's Chorus.