Meet the new, young voices of Classical MPR

Madeline Peterson is a new board operator at Classical MPR.Elena See/MPR

January 16, 2019

Editor's note: This feature was written by Emily Green, a music student at the University of Minnesota, where she majors in horn performance and minors in management with a public/nonprofit focus in the Carlson School of Management.

Recently, you might have heard new voices on Classical MPR. They're not just from new people; they're also younger than a typical classical host.

Madeline Peterson and Severin Lier, who are music students at St. Olaf College in Northfield, bring a unique perspective to the field of on-air radio hosting as two of Classical MPR's newest and youngest board operators.

"One way Classical MPR can help develop the future of classical music is by providing opportunities for young talent," program director Julie Amacher says. "I recently approached some music students at St. Olaf College to encourage them to consider classical radio as a possible career path. Maddie and Severin jumped at the opportunity and are currently learning what it takes to bring you the classical music you love, in particular the Metropolitan Opera Saturday matinee broadcasts."

Lier, a Colorado native, developed his love and appreciation for music by listening to classical radio stations throughout his childhood. He is now a senior at St. Olaf studying music and management. After he graduates, he plans to work in arts administration in the Twin Cities. During his time at MPR, he hopes to gain a broader understanding of how radio stations operate and expand his musical knowledge.

Peterson sang in choirs while growing up in St. Michael and fell in love with choral music. She studies vocal music education at St. Olaf, singing in the Chapel Choir and working in the Halvorson Music Library. One day, she hopes to become a school choir director. She says she's thrilled to be a part of the public radio station she grew up listening to.

New board ops at Classical MPR
Severin Lier is a new board operator at Classical MPR.
Elena See/MPR

As board operators, Lier and Peterson will manage the soundboards in Classical MPR's studio during live broadcast performances, which include concerts and operas originating from the Twin Cities or elsewhere.

"It's my job to be in the studio operating the soundboard while the producers and hosts are running the show onsite at the performance," Lier says.

Peterson adds, "Sometimes, I get to play music after the concert, which is great since I love to hear new music and I get to introduce the pieces on air."

Lier and Peterson went on to explain why they love classical music.

"Music has always been a constant in my life. It has the power to move me in ways which no other aspect of life can," Lier says. "Music also has the potential to make significant and positive changes in this world, improving the lives of individuals and communities all over. That's what makes me passionate about music."

Peterson says, "I'm passionate about music because my choir classes have always been a safe haven for me. No matter how badly my day would be going, I'd have something to look forward to. I'd walk into choir and instantly feel better."

She adds that her choir director at St. Olaf, Tesfa Wondemagegnehu, has taught her how powerful, healing and uniting choral music can be.

The two St. Olaf students can be heard on the air during many of Classical MPR's live broadcasts. Peterson will be handling Saturday's broadcast of the Met Opera, starting at 11:30 a.m. Lier will do that broadcast the following Saturday, starting at noon.

Amacher says, "We're excited that Maddie and Severin will be in our studio and on the air sharing the power of classical music!"

Other new voices

Alex Simpson
Alex Simpson is a new board operator at Classical MPR.
Elena See/MPR

Madeline Peterson and Severin Lier aren't the only new voices you'll be hearing on Classical MPR.

Alex Simpson recently joined the fold, too. In addition to his on-air work for Classical MPR, Simpson serves as one of MPR's master control specialists. He spends his free time recording local bands and working on music of his own. Before working at MPR, he was an engineer and on-air host for the University of Minnesota's student-run station Radio K (KUOM).

Other new board operators will be joining Classical MPR in the near future.