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2018 Mentor Teachers:  Jerry Elsbernd, Alison Feldt, Robert Jones & Stephanie Thorpe

Jerry Elsbernd

Private Voice Instructor, Jerry Elsbernd, holds Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in Vocal Music Education from North Dakota State University.  A former adjunct voice professor at Concordia University St. Paul and Northwestern College in Roseville, Elsbernd enjoys a thriving career as a full-time teacher of singing in his private Shorewood, MN studio and as a part-time private voice instructor at Wayzata High School, where he teaches classical and contemporary styles.  He is a frequent contest adjudicator and master class presenter in the Twin Cities metro area.  


Jerry is an active member of NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing), serving as the MN Chapter Treasurer and member of the executive committee since 2014.  He was awarded the 2011 MN NATS Grant for research and was a presenter at the NATS National Conference in 2012 in Orlando, FL on the topic of collaboration between the singing voice studio and the speech pathologist’s office.  Jerry chaired the auditions committee that brought the music theater divisions to the MN chapter for the first time in 2014.  He has served as a judge in the state, regional and national NATS Student Auditions. He also served on the NATS National Student Auditions Rules Committee to review and revise the rules for the Music Theater divisions in 2017. 


A passionate student of voice, Jerry continues his vocal education through private study and by frequently attending workshops, master classes and continuing education courses that pertain to singing and voice production. He is honored and grateful to carry on the tradition of singing and instruction that he has gained through his extensive study with his wonderful teachers, including Robert W. Olson (a student of world-renowned vocal pedagogue, Oren Brown), Rita Patané of Milan, Italy, and Mary Kay Schmidt (with whom he still studies).  His professional singing experience includes being a member and frequently featured soloist with The Dale Warland Singers, a co-executive producer and member of the national touring tight harmony vocal group Three Hits and a Miss, and as featured soloist in numerous regional oratorio, operetta and concert productions of a variety of styles from classical to Broadway and jazz.  He also directs the Senior Choir at Mt. Olivet Lutheran Church West Campus in Victoria, MN.  


Among his many successful students are several winners and finalists in the NATS Student Auditions at the Chapter, Regional and National levels, two American top 40 achieving pop artists (one with a gold record and one whose records have gone multi-platinum), two top honor recipients of the National YoungArts Foundation award in the HS Musical Theater category, a national honorable mention recipient in the YoungArts Classical Voice category, a National High School Musical Theater (“Jimmy”) award winner, multiple finalists and winners of the Hennepin Theater Trust’s Spotlight “Triple Threat” award, a winner of the Classical Singer Magazine’s High School Vocalist Competition upper Midwest division, a National finalist in the Classical Singer Auditions Plus Musical Theater Awards, two showcase artists in the MN Varsity talent competition through MPR, and several actors in lead and supporting roles in local, regional and national music theater productions, including Broadway tours and on and off Broadway productions.


Jerry’s graduating high school students have gained acceptance in the nation’s top classical and music theater programs, including New York University (Music Theatre-Tisch School of the Arts and Music Theatre-Steinhardt School of Music), Cincinnati Conservatory of Music, the Jacobs School of Music at Indiana University, Fordham Univeristy, Pace University NYC, Hartt School of Music, Rutger’s University, the American Music and Drama Academy (NYC), Oberlin Conservatory, Lawrence University Conservatory of Music, Princeton University Department of Music, University of MN School of Music, University of MN/Guthrie BFA Program, University of MI School of Music, Northwestern University, the Royal Conservatory of Music in London, Belmont University, St. Olaf College, Luther College, Concordia College, North Dakota State University Challey School of Music, and many more.

Alison Feldt

Alison Feldt is an associate professor of music at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota. Dr. Feldt joined the faculty of St. Olaf College in 1989. She teaches Voice Performance Studies. Other teaching assignments have included Vocal Pedagogy, Solo Vocal Literature, and Music and Poetry, Voice Class, and a course for non-majors titled “Music and Poetry”. Dr. Feldt chaired the St. Olaf College Music Department from 2007-2016.


Dr. Feldt has served NATS (National Association of Teachers of Singing) in a variety of roles. Currently she is Vice President for Outreach; however her life-long commitment to NATS began at the grass-roots level where she served as auditions chair and president of Minnesota NATS, Minnesota State Governor, and eventually North Central Region Governor. In addition she served as conference chair for the 2006 NATS National Conference held in Minneapolis.


Dr. Feldt has enjoyed a successful recital and concert career including performances with the Rochester Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Choral Arts Ensemble of Rochester, the Cannon Valley Orchestra and the St. Olaf College Orchestra. Dr. Feldt has presented recitals in Sweden, Germany, Austria, and Switzerland, as well as regional venues including the Owatonna Arts Center, the Volksfest Kulturhaus in St. Paul, the Minneapolis Institute of Art, and St. Olaf College.  She has sung with the Minnesota Opera and the Salzburger Landestheater.


Dr. Feldt has won numerous awards and honors. She was a recipient of a Jerome Foundation Travel and Study Grant, twice been the recipient of a Faculty Development Grant from St. Olaf College, and was twice a finalist for a McKnight Fellowship for Performing Musicians. She won first place in the Minnesota-Western Wisconsin District Metropolitan Opera Auditions and went on to place third in the Upper Midwest Regional Auditions. She received first place in the Minnesota District NATS Artist Award Voice Competition. In Austria, she took first place in the Opera/Lied Competition from the City of Salzburg Cultural Foundation, and first place in the Operetta Competition sponsored by the Nico Dostal and Robert Stolz Foundations.


Dr. Feldt holds the Doctorate of Musical Arts in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Minnesota, Master of Arts Degree in Vocal Performance and Pedagogy from the University of Iowa and the Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from Luther College in Decorah, Iowa. She studied at the Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria with Rudolf Knoll, has participated in master classes with Kerstin Meyer and Rita Streich at the International Summer Academy in Salzburg, and Joan Dornemann at the University of Minnesota.  

Robert Jones


  • D.M.A., University of Oklahoma, 1991

  • M.M., University of Northern Colorado, 1979

  • B.Mus.Ed, University of Nebraska-Lincoln, 1972


Robert Jones, Professor of Voice at NDSU, has appeared as soloist with varied ensembles in the United States, Canada and Bolivia, including the Winnipeg Philharmonic Choir and Royal Winnipeg Ballet, the Nebraska Chamber Orchestra and the Bolivian Chamber Music Society.

Dr. Jones has appeared in leading and supporting roles with the Des Moines Metro Opera Company, Opera Oklahoma and the Fargo Moorhead Opera. Among the leading roles performed with FM Opera include Bartolo in Barber of Seville, the title role in Gianni Schicchi and the title role and Pooh Bah in The Mikado.

Active as a recitalist, Dr. Jones has performed numerous solo and chamber music recitals throughout North Dakota, Minnesota, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Texas and Indiana. Most recently he was a featured performer in a Bolivian Chamber Music Society concert at the Palacio di Simon I. Patino in Cochabamba, Bolivia. Dr. Jones has appeared annually as a baritone soloist with the NDSU Baroque Festival, most recently in Handel’s Messiah. Other appearances include major roles with the NDSU Opera Theater.

Research interests include 20th Century art song and text music relationships. Dr. Jones has presented numerous lecture-performances on 20th century vocal literature at both regional and national CMS Conferences. He is a member of College Music Society, National Association of Teachers of Singing, Lyrica Society and Pi Kappa Lambda.

Dr. Jones received his DMA degree from the University of Oklahoma in 1991 and has taught at Hesston, KS College, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, East Central, OK University, the University of Oklahoma, and the University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma. He has been a faculty member at NDSU since 1995.

Stephanie Thorpe

Dr. Stephanie R. Thorpe, soprano, is a member of the voice faculty in the Department of Music at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where she teaches classical, musical theatre, and contemporary vocal genres. In addition to private voice, Thorpe also teaches Vocal Pedagogy, Diction, Class Voice, and Aural Skills. Prior to her faculty appointment, she performed full-time for seven years in Las Vegas, Nevada. Thorpe is currently a member of Thursday Musical, a performing arts organization in the Twin Cities. She continues to be active in opera, musical theatre, contemporary music, and recital.

As a winner of the University of Nevada, Las Vegas Concerto Competition, Thorpe performed John Musto's Pulitzer Prize-nominated Dove Sta Amore... with the UNLV Symphony Orchestra. She was a Regional Finalist in the Metropolitan Opera National Council Auditions, and a winner of the Nevada District National Association of Teachers of Singing Artist Awards (NATSAA). Thorpe also participated in the prestigious National Association of Teachers of Singing Intern Program, where she worked directly with master teacher and renowned tenor, George Shirley.

Thorpe is an active member of the National Association of Teachers of Singing and the College Music Society. She has served as an adjudicator for the North Central Regional Chapter, the Minnesota Chapter, the Cal-Western Regional Chapter, and the Las Vegas Chapter of the National Association of Teachers of Singing (NATS) Student Award competitions. Thorpe has also served as a judge for the Classical Singer Vocal Competition in Las Vegas, Nevada. Most recently, she adjudicated several Solo and Ensemble Festivals for the Minnesota State High School League.

Previously, Thorpe has served as adjunct voice faculty at Southern Utah University in Cedar City, Utah, the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, the College of Southern Nevada, Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa, and Iowa Wesleyan College in Mount Pleasant, Iowa. She was also a member of the voice faculty at The Nevada School of the Arts in Las Vegas and served as the administrative liaison for the Big Bear Lake Song Festival. Thorpe received a Doctor of Musical Arts degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, where she worked with Dr. Tod Fitzpatrick. She also holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Briar Cliff University. Recently, Thorpe received a Vocology Certificate through the National Center for Voice and Speech under the tutelage of Dr. Ingo Titze and Dr. Katherine Verdolini Abbott.

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