Björling Recital Hall: G Choir Again—38 Years (and More) Later

Posted on January 14th, 2019 by

—dispatch from Kris Potter ’81, G Choir alumni companion

I remember the last Gustavus Choir concert of my senior year, walking from the risers and thinking to myself, I will never sing in a choir this good again, this is it, these days are done. I was uncharacteristically stoic…just grateful that I had sung exquisite music with beautiful people, in stunning churches and chapels throughout the United States and Canada for four blissful years.

Of course, I have sung with other very, very good choirs filled with mature adult voices that have a rich timbre so different from young, limber college-aged voices. I’ve sung in choirs that recorded at Paisley Park, premiered original music written just for that particular choir, choirs that raised the hair on the back of my neck (a sure sign of a magical musical moment for me). But none of these amazing choirs was the choir that I came to Gustavus to sing for. The choir that my Mom sang in, the choir that was one of the A’s on her first college report card (the other was in voice). The other unmentionable grades on that card were worthy of a stern, firm letter from her father lovingly encouraging her to apply that same focus to her other courses.

So to walk into Bjorling Concert Hall, step on to the stage where I quivered in fear as a young soloist and recitalist, and stand within the sound of the Gustavus Choir as an alumni singer was overwhelming. Literally there were so many beautiful voices around me that it was disorienting. Like being drawn into a river of sound and breath.

Almost six decades old, and there I was again—welcomed by the generous young singers patiently adjusting to our new voices. Allowing us into a sacred musical space. What maturity, what generosity. How Gustavus of these students. Traveling is a liminal act, a passage to the new. And here are we as older singers as the choir is in a liminal space moving from conductor to conductor. Just as the choir did during my four years as a student.

I’ll be singing my best, striving to blend in with the young and new voices, but I’ll be wearing something very, very old—the Gustavus Choir pin that belonged to my mother, Gloria (Anderson) Samelian ’52. It’s golden hue matches the honey-colored tones of her voice, a voice that colored her choir, a voice that led me to embark on this adventure to Europe. 



  1. Juli Ilchert says:

    Growing up I was blessed to hear your Mother Gloria Samelian in less prestigious settings sing. Doing yard work, in her kitchen, emptying her car of groceries, walking her beloved dog… but always singing. My favorite was always with you and family as we blessed each meal in song. You Kris are my inspiration always, your life as you have lived it so beautifully and with joy. Sing my friend always, your heritage and your gift. Friends forever, Juli

  2. Lee Zopff says:

    I am so glad Kristen that you and Mike were able to go on the tour. Thanks for the pictures and memories of your Mom, Gloria.