Alyssa Wedin describes Axel Theimer as a mentor.
So it’s fitting that the College of Saint Benedict senior is one of the first two recipients of the scholarship established by the longtime choral director and professor in the music department at CSB and Saint John’s University who retired at the end of the 2020-21 school year.
The other recipient is SJU sophomore Ben Ascheman.
“He is truly the biggest mentor I’ve had at Saint Ben’s and Saint John’s,” said Wedin, a Chanhassen (Minnesota) native who is currently student-teaching in the Bloomington (Minnesota) school district and hopes to find a full-time music teaching job in the Twin Cities at either the elementary or middle school levels by the start of the school year next fall.
“Not only was I in choir with him my first three years, but he was the professor who taught my conducting classes. I also worked in the music department, so I’ve gotten to know him pretty well over the course of my time here. He’s helped shape me into not only the musician I am today, but the educator I am now and hope to be in the future.”
The Axel Theimer Endowed Choral/Vocal Music Education Scholarship Fund was set up to benefit students majoring in choral and vocal music education at CSB and SJU. The award is merit based, available to students in their sophomore through senior years and renewable annually as long as the recipient continues to follow the department’s choral/vocal music education major sequence.
The endowments were established by Theimer in 2013 (SJU) and 2017 (CSB) respectively.
“My main goal was and continues to be making future prospective choir/voice teachers aware of how much music and music education is valued at CSB/SJU,” Theimer said. “That we have a very successful and attractive program, and many highly successful graduates out in the field. Also, to offer financial support to ease the ever-increasing financial burden and financial challenges.
“What would the world be without music? Whatever we can contribute to make education more affordable to any future musicians, I think that’s a worthwhile goal. I hope that the endowment will flourish and we’ll be able to support students in a way that makes them look at our schools a little bit closer because they know that music and music education are valued here.”
Ascheman, a Hastings (Minnesota) High School graduate, got to know Theimer as a first-year student and has continued to have the chance to get to know him this year as Theimer has continued to remain a presence in the music department.
“I’m really grateful for the chances I’ve gotten to work with Axel,” said Ascheman, whose goal is to become a high school choir teacher. “He really understands people and their voice. He’s been doing it so long that it just comes naturally to him.”
Both Ascheman and Wedin said they are grateful to Theimer and the other donors who made this scholarship possible.
“It means a lot to me,” Ascheman said. “It’s so helpful. I’m really appreciative.”
“It’s such a huge honor,” Wedin added. “I just think of all the lives he’s touched over the 50-plus years he was at CSB and SJU. It’s such a huge network of people that he’s influenced, so it’s truly humbling to be named one of the first recipients of a scholarship that will continue his legacy.”