By Jeanie

By Eric Buening, Correspondent
Morrison County Record 

In 2014, the St. Francis Music Center celebrates 35 years of providing Morrison County and communities at large, with the opportunity to explore music and performing arts. When the Music Center opened in 1979, they had only four teachers on staff. Since then they have grown to include 15 music teachers and staff. The Music Center is also a Sally Ordway Irvine Award winning community music school.

“The Music Center is a ministry of the Franciscan Sisters,” said Sister Adella Gross. “We attract more than just people from Little Falls. We have people coming from all over the county and even places like Long Prairie, Rice, Staples and even Onamia.”

The music program has a wide age range of people that take lessons or participate in programs. “Our student body ranges from age 4 to 84,” said Sister Adella Gross.

There is a basic fee structure for adults that want to take music lessons. For children there are scholarships and grants available. “We don’t want to turn anyone away. If there is a need we try to meet it.” said Sister Adella Gross.

The Music Center hosts three different choirs which have been sponsored by a grant by the Five Wings Arts Council. The grant allows people who are interested to participate for free.

The men’s choir is called Brothers in Harmony. It is an assembly of adults and teens that meets every Monday night. The St. Francis Community Chorale is open to all adults who wish to participate. This community choir has two annual concerts. The first is during the Christmas season and again in the spring.

“Kids Sing” is a new choir program available to children from 5 – 12 years old. The program is designed to teach children proper vocal techniques while also teaching them to adapt their singing style to their developing voices.

The Center has two orchestras. The youth strings orchestra gives students with two or more years of individual lessons the opportunity to play in an ensemble. Students learn how to employ intonation, different bowing styles and patterns, as well as reading key, time signatures and counting rhythms.

The St. Francis Concert Orchestra is for adults with enough experience to take on the challenge of playing in an ensemble. Playing in the Orchestra requires the dedication to practice on their time and be prepared for rehearsal.

Both orchestras play twice a year at the St. Francis Sacred Heart Chapel.

The URock program is the brainchild of instructor Greg Langlois.

“I was inspired by the movie School of Rock,” said Langlois. “Just after we put URock together they started something similar in St. Cloud, so I knew we were on the right track.”

The URock program is free to middle and high school students thanks to grants by Five Wings Arts Council, Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Catholic Health Initiative. This allows students to participate for free. As a result in 2014 there are a record 30 students in the class.

The camp is designed to give at-risk teens a place to learn about playing in a rock and roll band. Thanks to a grant by the Catholic Health Initiative the URock program will be available to students year round. “We’re going to have a lounge area where kids can meet after school.” said instructor Tony Armagost. “It looks like rock and roll is here to stay.”

The camp itself is an intensive event covering two weekends in July. It culminates in an outdoor concert performance during the St. Francis Green Fair Folk Festival, held on the first Wednesday in August. “The outreach from talented students this year is amazing!” said Armagost. “We have one student from as far south as St. Michael-Albertville and another from Pequot Lakes.”

The goal of the program is to create a venue where kids are exposed to anti-bullying messages and find proper, healthy ways to deal with youth issues. “The grants let us offer them a place to go and do positive stuff instead of getting in trouble on the street,” said Armagost.

The Music Center also has programs for dance and children’s gymnastics.

The dance program is designed to introduce young students to styles such as ballet, tap, jazz, improvisation and ethnic dance. It is broken up into three different levels based on age and experience. “Most students start at age 4, but some children start as early as 3.” said Music Center Director Robyn Gray.

The gymnastics program is offered for children age 4 and up. Classes are determined by each student’s skill level. Each student is taught the basics of tumbling, low-beam, vault and bar skills. They are also taught basic floor routines timed to music.

After 35 years of growth, the Saint Francis Music Center continues to look to the future.

“Our biggest goal going forward is to become more financially independent so we can continue to grow the program,” said Director Robyn Gray. “We also want to develop programs with the grant for violence prevention.”

By Jeanie

URock Against ViolenceSt. Francis Music Center has been awarded a $91,450 grant to support URock Against Violence, a new mentorship program at St. Francis Music Center that pairs local youth with caring adult and provides activities focusing on music and the arts, including music lessons.

“We welcome everyone,” said Robyn Gray, director of St. Francis Music Center. “We are looking for a committed group of young people who want to make a difference with anti-bullying or other unproductive behavior. Perhaps it’s positive peer pressure. Perhaps it’s using music to create a community where people support one another and enrich their own lives as they enrich others.”

The grant is provided by the Mission and Ministry Fund of Catholic Health Initiatives, the national health care system that includes a national Catholic health care system in which the Franciscan Sisters participate.

Since it was established in 1996 with guidance from the health system’s founding congregations, the Mission and Ministry Fund has awarded 409 grants totaling more than $50 million to programs across the globe. The fund was established through contributions from Catholic Health Initiatives’ facilities across the nation.

URock Against Violence will serve youth throughout Morrison County and also contribute to Catholic Health Initiatives’ systemwide initiative to prevent negative behavior in every community where the health care system serves. “We’re grateful to CHI for supporting our efforts to serve the young people of Morrison County and are excited to turn our popular URock summer camp into a year-round program,” Gray added.

The summer camp, now in its eighth year, is a chance for youth aged 10+ to fulfill the dream of being in a band. She said, “Participants learn so much more than playing music. They learn to listen to one another, play together, create harmony, build friendships, interact socially, think critically, communicate, gain self-confidence and learn the power of teamwork. They belong.” The program often draws students who do not normally participate in extracurricular activities or band and choir. The highlight of the two weeks is a chance to perform in front of a live audience – over 1,000 last year – at the Green Fair Folk Festival.

For families that cannot afford lessons, funds are available. “We strive to let music be a vehicle for making positive differences in people’s lives – in and out of the classroom.

“Life is full of choices, as adults well know. We want to teach the younger generation that one positive choice is to turn to music when they feel depressed or lonely. Music, song-writing, performing – it can change lives,” Gray emphasized.

Kevin Lofton, chief executive officer of Catholic Health Initiatives, said, “As providers of health and health care, we see the human cost of violence every day as victims come to us for emergency services. Violence prevention is a systemwide, long-term commitment for us. With the help of grants from the Mission and Ministry Fund, our local organizations are doing excellent work. They are moving ‘upstream’ to find the places and situations in which violence can be prevented.”

St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts established in 1979. Its mission is to provide high-quality arts education to the rural population of central Minnesota. The Music Center is committed to serving all who wish to learn and strives to create an environment where everyone is welcome and feels valued. Gray said, “We have witnessed the transformation that studying music and participating in the arts can make in the life of a child or teen, especially one that is struggling to make good, healthy decisions.”

Catholic Health Initiatives, a nonprofit, faith-based health system formed in 1996 through the consolidation of four Catholic health systems, expresses its mission each day by creating and nurturing healthy communities in the hundreds of sites across the nation where it provides care. One of the nation’s largest health systems, Englewood, Colo.-based CHI operates in 18 states and comprises 93 hospitals, including four academic medical centers and teaching hospitals: 24 critical access facilities; community health services organizations; accredited nursing colleges; home-health agencies; and other facilities that span the inpatient and outpatient continuum of care. In fiscal year 2013, CHI provided $762 million in charity care and community benefit, including services for the poor, free clinics, education and research.

For more information on the program, contact Robyn Gray at 320-632-0655 or


By Jeanie

FiddlersYoung violin players at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, are preparing to fiddle at this year’s Green Fair Folk Festival on Wednesday, August 6, from 4-8 p.m. outdoors on the west lawn at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. These young musicians will perform for the public at 5:30 p.m. Additional music to be featured on the stage will be Woodland Strings, The Rick Family, Sestri—a Slavic women’s choir, bands from St. Francis Music Center’s URock Camp, and a few surprises.  The Fiddle Festival and URock bands are funded by a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council. The evening is free and open to the public and is sponsored by the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls.  


By Jeanie

This summer you rock! If you have always wanted to be in a band, this is your opportunity!  St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is offering URock Summer Camp; it’s not really a camp, it’s a concert in training!  Middle and high school students are invited to participate.  Guitarists, drummers, bassists, vocals, keyboards, and other musicians who want to form a band are all invited to attend.  You don’t need a lot of experience on your instrument, just some of the basics.

URock begins on Friday, July 25, from 5-7 p.m., at St. Francis Music Center. The instructors will get to know the students and their abilities and talk them through what it takes to be in a band.  The next morning the group will be divided up into bands and the fun begins!  Each band will pick a name and three songs they’d like to play.  The rest of the camp is spent learning the music, performance tips, band pictures and getting ready to perform.  All music styles are welcome, from rock to country to Christian, and everything in between.

URock will meet July 26, 27, and 25 and August 2 and 3 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.  Led by Greg Langlois, the instructors will all be musicians with experience in professional bands.  The final concert will be outdoors on August 6 as part of the St. Francis Green Fair Folk Festival.

Thanks to grants from the Five Wings Arts Council, the Mille Lacs Band of Ojibwe and Catholic Health Initiatives, URock is free for all participants.

For more information or to sign up, call the Music Center at (320)632-0637 or stop in at 116 8th Avenue SE in Little Falls or visit their website at

This activity is funded, in part, by the Minnesota arts and cultural heritage fund as appropriated by the Minnesota State Legislature with money from the vote of the people of Minnesota on November 4, 2008.

By Jeanie

Morrison County Record
By David Hoadley, Correspondent 

The words “Van Halen” and “convent” don’t often appear together, but anyone strolling the halls of the St. Francis Music Center on the second floor of the St. Francis Convent in Little Falls on a recent Friday would have heard the unmistakable sound of Van Halen’s “Eruption.” The song is better known as the guitar solo that leads into the band’s cover of the 1964 Kinks hit “You Really Got Me.”

Following the sound to its source that Friday would have led to a guitarist still several years shy of driving age and the rest of a band of four musicians that, combined, would still be younger than the song they were playing.

Zachary Sobania was the man channeling Eddie Van Halen that day and he and three other local musicians make up the band Power Plant. Besides guitars, Sobania, age 11, plays some keyboards and violin. Cary Armagost, 14, also plays guitar, while 13-year-old Logan Gerads mans the drums and Joseph Blair, age 12, handles the bass guitar. All but Gerads, who is from Rice, are Little Falls residents.

Armagost, Sobania and Blair met three summers ago at U Rock, the music center’s summer camp for middle school and high school musicians. They played in a band that summer, but the drummer was from the Twin Cities.

“So we didn’t really go on after the first year of U Rock,” Aramagost said. “But then we all realized that we were all still here. And Tony (Armagost’s dad), our coach, taught drums here and Logan was one of his students and (Tony) recommended him to our band.” All four remain students at the center, with the three guitarists studying with teacher Greg Langlois.

The band is focused mostly on classic rock music and the decision to add a song to the set list usually follows some individual testing.

“People bring up things they’d like to do,” Armagost said, “then we practice them between each practice and see how good it sounded and if it sounded good we put it to the actual set list that we use for gigs.

“We’re all pretty much fans of classic rock,” he added. “That’s what more than half of our music is.” The music center faculty, which also includes Jordan Welinski, has introduced other genres of music such as soul and the blues, but so far performances have generally centered around bands like Led Zeppelin and Paul McCartney.

“I figure they’ve got plenty of years to go,” Langlois said, “so I’m just slowly introducing them to the cream of the crop. And then it’s whatever else they discover on their own.”

The band’s name has a connection to St. Francis Convent, too. Each summer the campus hosts a Green Fair that highlights the U Rock bands, and Sobania found inspiration in that.

“We thought it’d be a good idea to, since it was Green Fair, use something kind of environmental, so eventually I came up with the name Power Plant,” he said. This year’s U Rock camp begins July 25, and information can be found at

The four are aware that having access to a music center with lessons in playing rock music is special.

“It’s really exciting,” Sobania commented, “because many people our age don’t get that opportunity.” And they enjoy the atmosphere of the music center and the convent as a whole.

“It’s a place where we can come together,” Armagost said. “People can hear us downstairs playing and sometimes we feel bad for them because sometimes we run songs multiple, multiple, multiple times in a row.”

“Kind of like a home away from home,” Blair said.

“A fun place to come. Good vibes,” Armagost said.

The musicians have taken advantage of the opportunity for inter-generational conversations by meeting with the sisters on occasion.

“We used to go downstairs after practice and eat with them,” Blair said.

“That was always a fun time,” Armagost said, “because they’d say, ‘Are you the Power Plant band? We heard your music upstairs and you guys sound good.’ A lot of good people here.”

Teachers Langlois and Armagost were sure to mention a list of people without whom the band would probably not exist. The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls top the list, which also includes Catholic Health Initiatives, Five Wings Arts Council and the music center staff, especially director Robyn Gray.

Lest anyone fear that the four are being denied their youth, they told a lengthy story involving crushed Pop-Tarts and another about renting paddle boats on Lake George—well, maybe the less said about that the better.

“That stuff is just as important to these guys as playing music,” Tony Armagost noted. “Being kids.”

“We laugh a lot,” Langlois said. “This is a serious thing what we’re doing, but I think it’s important not to take ourselves too serious and have fun doing it.”

“It’s always a good learning experience,” Cary Armagost said of the lesson time. “We have different stuff we do at every lesson, learn songs, learn different blues scales.” And they’ve been introduced to some music they might not otherwise have been exposed to.

“I can now say I like Led Zeppelin,” Aramagost said.

“And who else?” asked Langlois. “Dio,” the three guitarists said in unison.

“I think the coolest part of being a teacher for these guys for so long is just watching them grow,” Langlois said. “Not just these guys or any one in particular, and just being able to share the gift, being able to give what’s been so freely given to me and give it right back. I think it’s the coolest thing in the world to be a teacher and to be a mentor.

“These are talented guys,” he said. “But they’ve had to work at it. It’s not like they just woke up and were good. They’ve had to work and I think that’s what’s important. We have a lot of fun but we have a good work ethic, too, and when we’re one-on-one teaching, we still have fun but there’s times we have to work hard. We just lucked out with a gifted group of kids.”

There are plenty of opportunities to see Power Plant in the area this summer, starting Sunday, June 15, as part of Falls Festival on Foot, sponsored by Healthy Community Collaborative. The band will play under the Falls Cinema marquee. They also will be at the Dam Festival Friday, June 20, at Maple Island Park and will join other U Rock bands as part of the Green Fair again Wednesday, Aug. 6, on the convent campus. A show at the Morrison County Fair is set but not announced yet and there’s talk of playing for a car show in July. Then the summer wraps up as they open, as they did last year, for the Fabulous Armadillos Wednesday, Aug. 27, for Summertime By George in St. Cloud.

The four all have some high school years yet to go, but it’s hard to predict the long-term future.

“I know we’ll all play music forever,” Armagost said. “I don’t know how long this band will last, but I hope it does last because these are some neat guys.”

By Jeanie

St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to sponsor two opportunities for students and adults from the central Minnesota area to perform in a String Orchestra. St. Francis Preparatory Orchestra is for young students with one or two years of private lessons who are ready for an ensemble experience. At this level, students learn the basic skills necessary for successful orchestral playing. The focus is on intonation and tone quality, bowing styles and patterns, reading key and time signatures and counting rhythms. The group will do mostly unison and canon playing.

St. Francis Concert Orchestra is for more experienced players who have accomplished the skill set of the preparatory group and are ready for the rich and challenging experience of concert performance. Though still educational in nature, this orchestra will focus on rehearsing and performing standard string repertoire at the intermediate to advanced level. Participants are expected to spend individual practice time on their music between rehearsals and come to rehearsals prepared to turn notes on the page into beautifully expressive music. Both orchestras perform twice a year in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls.

Attendees need not be students at St. Francis Music Center to participate in the orchestras.  The orchestras are free. Bobbi French, faculty member at the Music Center, will direct both orchestras and will place participants in the proper orchestra.  Both orchestras will meet on Tuesday evenings starting on June 17. 

For more information or to sign up, please contact St. Francis Music Center at (320) 632-0637 or visit the website at  Join in the fun of creating beautiful music in a relaxed and welcoming atmosphere!

By Jeanie

Now is the time to sign up for summer lessons at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls! Private lessons are available for piano, organ, guitar, bass guitar, banjo, all band instruments, violin, viola, cello, percussion and voice. All ages and all levels of ability, from the very beginners to advanced students, are welcome. 

St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls. The music school is open to all and offers a wide variety of lessons and programs for all ages. Summer lessons begin on June 2, although new students are welcome at any time.

There will also be gymnastics classes held on Thursday evenings. There will be a parent/child class for parents with 2 and 3 year-old children; a preschool class for 4 and 5-year olds; and a class for ages 6 and up. 

Lots of excitement is going on at St. Francis Music Center this summer! For more information, or to sign up for lessons, call the Center at (320)632-0637. Financial aid is available.


By Jeanie

Jenna MillerSt. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is happy to announce that Jenna Miller has joined the string faculty. Jenna Miller has a passion for the cello and loves working with kids. She studied music at Grove City College in Pennsylvania and has always incorporated music—especially voice and cello—into whatever adventures the good Lord has brought her. She earned a master’s degree in library science from San Jose State University in California and worked as a (musical) children’s librarian until later settling in to raise and homeschool her six children—all of whom sing and/or play instruments.

Jenna has lived in central Minnesota for eight years and has performed with various groups in the area, including the St. Cloud Symphony, Water Into Wine (a liturgical band at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church), the Legacy Chorale, as a soloist with the Great River Strings, and as cello principal of the Heartland Symphony Orchestra. Her family also leads the worship music once a month at St. James Catholic Church, Randall. Jenna credits her French-horn-playing father with making music a given in her life and feels that all people can be stirred and shaped in positive ways by musical exposure and training. “He who sings, prays twice.”

Jenna is available to teach cello on Tuesdays starting June 2. She is able to teach all levels.  For more information on cello or any music lessons, please contact St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit the website at


By Jeanie

Power PlantPower Plant, a band formed as part of the URock Camp at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, recently performed at Pioneer Place in St. Cloud. The band, made up of (L to R) Cary Armagost, Logan Gerads, Zachary Sobania and Joey Blair, donated back their earnings from the gig to St. Francis Music Center. To date, the band has donated back $500 to help fund opportunities to create more bands.


(Photo taken by Kari Ross, Community Relations Department, Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, Minnesota.)


By Jeanie

At a reception and awards ceremony on April 3, the Five Wings Arts Council, a regional organization representing five counties, presented Robyn Gray with an award for Leadership in the Arts. Robyn has been Director of St. Francis Music Center since 1994. She was unable to be present for the event as she was in St. Paul at the Minnesota State Arts Board offices reviewing grant applications from groups across Minnesota who are seeking funding for a variety of projects. Sisters Bernice Rieland and Adela Gross accepted the award on behalf of Robyn.

Sue Gens, Director of the Minnesota State Arts Board, paid tribute to Robyn and her dedicated leadership in the arts in Little Falls and beyond. She noted that Robyn has been a leader in many arts organizations over the years and continues to inspire young people with a love of music and the arts. 

Part of the entertainment for the program was provided by URock band Power Plant.  This is a group of four young teenagers, under the direction of Greg Langlois and Tony Armogast of St. Francis Music Center. They were a big hit with the crowd! Greg Langlois, guitar teacher and director of the URock summer program at SFMC, also paid tribute to Robyn for her leadership and her help to him personally by giving him a chance to use his talents to help young people.

Congratulations, Robyn!


Photo L to R: Greg Langlois, Sister Adela Gross, Kevin Steuven, Robyn Gray, Pat Boser and Bobbi French

By Jeanie

St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to announce that Sarah Dahl has been added to their teaching staff. Sarah has been a violinist in the St. Cloud and surrounding area since she was 14, when she joined the St. Cloud Symphony. She also performed with the St. Cloud Orchestra as a soloist as a winner of the Young Artists Competition. She has played in orchestras from California to Washington D.C., and has appeared live on Minnesota Public Radio. She has studied at St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota and continuously seeks new avenues of learning. Sarah has been teaching for almost five years and loves to be part of young minds absorbing music! She has a young son named Oliver who is almost 3. Sarah is available to teach violin and viola.

Sarah joins Bobbi French as the orchestral strings teaching staff at the Music Center. Bobbi French has a B.A. in music education from Augustana College, Sioux Falls, South Dakota. She has studied and performed on violin, voice and piano since her youth and has over 30 years of experience as a teacher and director of community ensembles and musicals. Bobbi’s goal is to teach students of all ages and ability levels to appreciate and create beauty in the world through music. Bobbi teaches strings and piano. Her lessons emphasize music theory, instrument technique, note-reading and sight-reading, ear training and musical expression. Bobbi is also the conductor of the Con Brio Orchestra and the Sforzando Orchestras at the Music Center.

St. Francis Music Center is a community school for the arts located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls.  Everyone is welcome!!  For more information, please call (320) 632-0637 or visit the website at

By Jeanie

St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to announce Christopher Borash and Nina Quillo as the recipients of the 2014 Sister Justina Bieganek Music Scholarships. The scholarship was established in 2004 by family members, friends and fans of Sister Justina in honor of her 75th Anniversary as a Franciscan Sister. Sister Justina worked at St. Francis Music Center since its start in 1979. She passed away at the age of 100, but her spirit of joy and peace still fill the halls of the Music Center and she is remembered with love and respect by the students, staff and faculty.

Christopher Borash is in sixth grade at Royalton Public Schools. He has played piano for the past 5 years and percussion for 2 years. Christopher also participates in North Prairie Youth Group, Royalton Cross Country, 4-H, and the North Prairie Choir. His favorite school subjects are lunch, science and math!  He also enjoys swimming, running, and all sports as well as reading and playing music. In the future he hopes to attend St. Mary’s University in Winona and become a farmer.

Christopher is the son of Ron and Ann Borash of Bowlus. He is the second youngest in their family of 10.  His piano teacher at St. Francis Music Center is Pat Boser.

Nina Paqariy Quillo is in eighth grade at Long Prairie Grey Eagle Schools. She has played violin for 8 years. Nina also participates in gymnastics, Episcopal Youth, Music Camp, and track and field.  Her favorite subjects are physical education, choir, and family and consumer science. In her free time Nina enjoys gymnastics, playing violin, listening and playing music, dancing, singing, running and hanging out with her friends.  In the future she hopes to become a professional musician, singer or dancer.

Nina is the daughter of Lalo and Elizabeth Quillo of Long Prairie. Nina plays in the Sforzando Orchestra and also plays with her family band, “The Quillo Strings.” Nina studies violin under Celo V’ec at St. Francis Music Center.

Christopher and Nina were chosen for this award, which is the highest scholarship honor awarded at the Music Center, based on their many musical achievements, and also for their love of music and for the hours that they dedicate to practicing.  They are responsible, generous and truly exceptional young people. 

By JanR

In 2004 Vicki and Greg Spofford established a scholarship at St. Francis Music Center in honor of Vicki’s parents, Arley and Naomi Lyseng. Both of the Lyseng’s were lifetime music educators, touching the lives of thousands of children. To continue the legacy, the Spofford family made a donation to establish this annual scholarship.


This year’s recipient is Jakob Hyatt, who studies both guitar and piano and has just started percussion. Jakob studies under Bobbi French and Greg Langlois at the Music Center. 


Jakob is in the 5th grade at Pierz Pioneer Elementary School. His favorite subjects include math and reading. He also participates in basketball, bowling, baseball, and sings in the choir at church and school. He is a part of the Prairie Fire Theater each summer and also enjoys playing Romans and Christians with his church group. In his free time, Jakob enjoys reading, playing music, playing family games and playing outside with his friends. He also has two little sisters and a dog that keep him busy. In the future Jakob would like to be a pastor or teacher.


Jakob was nominated for this award for his musicality and his wonderful attitude in his studies and life! He is the son of Joe and Amanda Hyatt of Pierz.

By JanR

St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, is proud to announce that Lindsey Sobania was awarded the 2014 Guy Christiansen Music Scholarship. The recipient of the scholarship is chosen by teacher recommendation and the scholarship committee.


Guy Christiansen was born in 1916 in a log cabin, on a farm west of Eagle Bend, Minn. When he was a boy, his mother taught him to play guitar on an instrument made by her father. It was a beautiful guitar with two five-pointed stars of shell and frets made of cow horn. When Guy was a teenager, he entertained crowds of people who came from miles around to hear him sing and play.


Around 1931 he was offered an opportunity to travel to Fargo to perform on the radio. But, since these were hard times and his family was poor, the trip was considered frivolous and unaffordable. The Great Depression came and went. World War Two came and went, leaving Guy with permanent injuries to his left hand making it impossible to ever play the guitar again. Despite all this, his four children grew up in a home where music was played and sung by everyone. Guy whistled in the morning, sang after dinner and loved to play his many harmonicas.


Guy Christiansen passed away in the spring of 2005. In his memory his children established a music scholarship in his name knowing he would be quite pleased that his scholarship is helping a young person have the opportunity to enjoy life and spread happiness through music.


Lindsey has studied violin for over three years and piano for two years. Lindsey is a student of Celo V’ec at the Music Center. She is in third grade at Mary of Lourdes Elementary School, Little Falls. Her favorite school subjects are art, math and religion. She plays in the Con Brio and Sforzando Orchestra and also plays with her family for church and special occasions. 


Lindsey loves to spend time with her family and enjoys animals, especially horses and kittens. She also enjoys reading and crafts. Her future plans include always playing violin and becoming a nurse. Lindsey is well known for her caring heart; she loves helping other people and is always willing to lend a helping hand.


Lindsey is the daughter of Monique and Rich Sobania of Little Falls.

By JanR

In 2013 the Bernet Family established a music scholarship at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, to honor Sister Maurita Bernet who recently observed her 60th anniversary as a Franciscan Sister. It is also meant to honor their parents Marie and Joseph Anton Bernet who loved music and made personal sacrifices to provide music lessons to six daughters, all whom later attended St. Francis High School. The sisters love music and have shared their musical abilities in church choirs, as church organist, as violinist in orchestras, and more. The Bernet Family cannot imagine a life without music. They understand music is good for the spirit, can be a good discipline, and brings joy to many. With this scholarship they hope to help students find the joy in their own music, to develop and share their abilities, and through music add light and love to our world. 

This year’s recipient of the award is Annika Rick. Annika is in 9th grade and is home schooled. She has taken piano lessons for seven years, guitar for five years, and also studies music theory. Annika’s favorite subjects in school are math and Swedish. She also plays in the Rick Family Bluegrass Gospel Band, helps in her church nursery and choir, and participates in triathlons.

In her free time, Annika spends time raising and caring for the family animals, including horses, dogs, cats, donkeys, mules, chickens, goats and rabbits – and in playing football with her brothers. In the future Annika dreams of attending college and possibly majoring in music education.

Annika studies piano and theory with Kevin Stueven and guitar with Greg Langlois, both teachers at St. Francis Music Center. She is the daughter of Bob and Tammy Rick of Browerville.

By Jeanie

"Jelloslave" the quartet for Jacqueline Ultan, Michelle Kinney, Greg Schutte and Gary Waryan will perform in Sacred Heart Chapel, St. Francis Convent in Little Falls, Sunday, Feb. 16 at 2 p.m. The performance is free and open to the public.

By JanR

St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, recently held their auditions for the 2014 Laura Jane Musser Merit Scholarships. Thirty-five students were nominated by their teachers to participate in the auditions. Each student performed two contrasting pieces for an independent judge. Students were judged on their ability at their level of study, so students of all ages were able to compete.


Eleven exceptional students were awarded a $100 scholarship to be used towards their 2013-2014 tuition. These students are: Kayla Bense and Claire Breitenfeldt from Long Prairie; Elijah Rick, Quinn Rick, and Greta Rick from Browerville; Kalli Sobania, Zachary Sobania, Ana Steadman, and Hannah Veillette of Little Falls; and Brianna Wuebkers and Cheyenne Wuebkers of Freeport.


The judges were impressed by all the students that auditioned. The auditions are open to all instruments. This year piano, violin, guitar, cello, flute, and voice students participated. The Merit Scholarship Program is funded by the Laura Jane Musser Trust for the purpose of rewarding and assisting highly dedicated and talented music students to continue their studies.

By Jeanie

The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls will host an all-you-can-eat Soup Supper fund raiser on Saturday, February 1, 4:30-7 p.m., at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. Three varieties of homemade soups—Chicken Wild Rice, Beef Barley Vegetable, Bean & Ham and a special option for children; fresh baked cracked wheat and white bread, homemade bars and beverages will be served. Ticket prices include: Adults--$8; Children 5-12 years--$4; Children under 5 years—Free. Dinner tickets will be available at the door or by calling (320)632-2981. Proceeds from the Soup Supper will benefit St. Francis Health and Recreation Center and St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls. For more information, contact (320)632-2981 or;

By Jeanie

St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, has many great opportunities for singers! The St. Francis Community Chorale will begin rehearsals on January 30 at 7 p.m., at St. Francis Music Center. The choir welcomes all adults who love to sing, there is no charge to participate, only a willingness to sing and have a good time. You do not have to take lessons at the Music Center to participate or be associated with the Franciscan Sisters, everyone is welcome to join. Rehearsals are every Thursday at 7 p.m.

The St. Francis Community Chorale is under the direction of Barb Stumpf. The chorale will be presenting a Spring Chorale Concert on April 27 at 2 p.m. The concert will feature a mixture of styles of music, sure to please everyone!

Men are also welcome to join a men’s ensemble that meets on Monday evenings starting on January 27 at 6:30 p.m. There is also a women’s group, Sestri, that meets on Sunday evenings at 5:30 p.m. This group sings folk songs of Eastern Europe.

All adults are welcome to join any of these groups; there are no auditions and there is no charge. All rehearsals are at St. Francis Music Center, located on the campus of the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls, 116 8th Avenue SE. For more information, please contact the Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit the website at: You may also call the directors--Barb Stumpf at (320)632-8372 or Vicki Spofford at (320)632-2360.


By Jeanie

Kendra SobaniaKendra Sobania will play her violin in Sacred Heart Chapel on Sunday, December 29, 2013, at 2 p.m., as a celebration of her years playing violin in the Little Falls community before she goes to college next fall.

"My purpose in doing the recital is to share the talent with which God has entrusted me," she said. "I feel very blessed and want to share with others because music can inspire people in so many different ways. Having the recital at St. Francis Convent is important to me because the Franciscan Sisters, St. Francis Music Center staff and my violin teacher, Celo V’ec, have supported me in so many ways, going above and beyond any of my expectations. I wouldn't be where I am today if it weren't for the wonderful people helping me."

Kendra is a student at Interlochen Arts Academy, a nine-month boarding school, in Michigan where she is spending her high school senior year taking academic classes and training in violin to prepare for attending a college music conservatory. One-fifth of the students at the Academy are international and the others come from all 50 states.

She has taken violin lessons from Celo V'ec at St. Francis Music Center for 12 years, from age five to 17. At age 14, Kendra cued the orchestra as concertmistress at the three-week Interlochen Summer Arts Camp in Michigan where she was surrounded by 2,500 talented musicians from 49 states and 45 countries. The Interlochen camp is the oldest and most prestigious summer arts program in the United States.

She will perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto in D Major as well as other selections with V'ec and members of her musical family. "This event will be somewhat like a senior recital and it is our intent to make this a fun event," Kendra said. "It is special to perform in the Chapel because I grew up playing there. No matter where my life takes me, I will always remember my hometown which has given me so much." Cookies and refreshments will be served after the performance.

"Music is a way to express my feelings and a great way to connect with others," she said. "Music is a part of our family: my great-grandma played the piano, my uncle is a great violinist, my mom plays the piano and my siblings play violin, cello, guitar and piano. It's a tradition to play music at family gatherings; it's a great way to spend time together."

Photo by Lisa Sherwood

By Jeanie

U.S Bank donates to SFMCJammi Strunk, left, and Lori Rebischke, right, of U.S. Bank in Little Falls and St. Cloud, respectively, presented St. Francis Music Center with a $1,500 grant in support of its orchestra program. "U.S. Bank is honored to help support the Franciscan Sisters’ music program, which makes the arts more accessible to more children in our community and enriches the lives of many," said Rebischke, vice president and relationship manager for The Private Client Group of U.S. Bank. Accepting the check on behalf of the Music Center are violin student Monica Czech and instructor Celo V’ec who directs the two string orchestras.


By JanR

Celo V’ec, strings instructor and orchestra director at St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, returned to Yale University for the 60th anniversary concert of the Alumni of the Yale Russian Chorus (YRC) on November 10.

He joined the chorus as a freshman in the fall of 1967 and was a featured bass and baritone soloist during his four-year tenure. In the summer of 1968 the YRC toured in eastern Europe. During the tour, the regular conductor became ill and Celo, then 18, was appointed interim conductor as he led the group of 35 men in concerts in Romania, Hungary and Bulgaria.

At the 60th reunion, 140 alumni of the YRC gathered for two days of rehearsal and a Sunday performance in Woolsey Hall, New Haven’s premier concert venue. The event was covered by the New York press as well as by Tass News Agency from Russia.

In 1969, women were admitted as undergraduates for the first time at Yale. That fall, V’ec founded and conducted the Yale Slavic Chorus, an all-women’s group devoted to Balkan folk music. Now celebrating their 44th year, they performed on the same stage. The St. Francis Music Center’s group, Sestri, is modeled on the Yale Slavic Chorus, performing much of the same music and in the same style as the original group.

By JanR

St. Francis Music Center, Little Falls, proudly presents “The Sforzando String Orchestra” and “The Con Brio String Orchestra” in a Christmas Concert on Friday, December 13 at 7 p.m. in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls.

The String Concerts have become a community favorite; all ages will enjoy this free concert. Little Falls is one of the few communities nationwide that is able to claim two string orchestras without having string programs in any area schools.

The concert will feature string artists of all ages playing a wide variety of music. Some of the highlights will be: Christmas Reflections; Prelude to Te Deum; Veni, Veni arranged by Chip Davis; Bach’s Prelude and Fugue in D Minor; Emperor Waltz by Johann Strauss; Balkan Trilogy, arranged by Celo V’ec; Irving Berlin’s White Christmas; and much more.

Directing both groups will be Celo V’ec, professional violinist and strings instructor at St. Francis Music Center.

The finale of the concert will feature the St. Francis Community Chorale joining the Sforzando Orchestra for the Hallelujah Chorus by G. F. Handel and a community sing-along of Silent Night.

The public is invited to attend this free concert and hear wonderful string music in a beautiful setting. There will be baskets for free will donations. The String Orchestras are supported by the Minnesota State Arts Board, US Bank, private donations, and the Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls.  For more information, please call the Music Center at (320) 632-0637 or visit


By JanR

The Franciscan Sisters of Little Falls invite the public to attend Holiday Recitals on Friday, December 6—7 p.m., Room 242 and 244; Saturday, December 7—10 a.m. and 1 p.m., Room 242 and 244; Sunday, December 8—1 p.m., Room 242 and 244.  The event is free and open to the public.

For more information, contact St. Francis Music Center at (320)632-0637 or visit their web site at

By JanR

The St. Francis Community Chorale, Little Falls, will present a Christmas Concert on Sunday, December 1, 7 p.m., in Sacred Heart Chapel at St. Francis Convent, Little Falls. What a wonderful way to kick off your Advent season with beautiful and inspiring music!

The Chorale will present beautiful Christmas music of various styles. Selections include: Celtic Silent Night; We Three Kings; Mary, Did You Know; Christmas Jazz; The Yearning  and many more songs of the season. Also featured will be Brothers in Harmony, a men’s singing group from St. Francis Music Center. This group is under the direction of Kathy Pederson. They will perform: O Holy Night; Little Drummer Boy; Carol of the Bells and more.

The St. Francis Community Chorale is the culmination of a dream of St. Francis Music Center to create a community choir open to all teens and adults who love to sing together. The Chorale meets Thursday evenings to rehearse and is open to all. Under the direction of Barb Stumpf, the Chorale has steadily grown and more are welcome to join after the concert. Joan Wingert, piano and vocal teacher at the Music Center, will be conducting the concert. This concert will be dedicated to the memory of Ray Stumpf, husband of our beloved director Barb Stumpf, with a special performance of Coming Home. The concert is free and open to the public.

The St. Francis Community Chorale is sponsored by a grant from the Five Wings Arts Council through funding from the Minnesota State Legislature. For more information, please call St. Francis Music Center at (320) 632-0637 or visit their website at