The RRVAGO Chapter Officers, Pipeline Staff, and Archivists
Throughout its history, our chapter officers consist of a dean, sub-dean, secretary, and treasurer. Technology has prompted us to add a publicist officer and a webmaster officer. Our activities are chronicled by the editors of our newsletter, Pipeline, and our long, rich history has necessitated adding archivists.
Benton Schmidt, Dean
Michael Olson, Sub-Dean
Michael is the Minister of Music at First Lutheran Church in Fargo. He assists in planning worship for the sanctuary services. He is the organist for the
sanctuary worship services and the Wednesday Fellowship worship services, plus most funerals and weddings held at the church.
Michael accompanies the Children’s Choir, Men’s Choir, Women’s Choir, and Cathedral Choir, as well as directs the Heavenly Bells handbell choir.
Everyone is invited to hear his organ recital each Wednesday afternoon during the school year. Michael maintains a private studio of piano and organ students.
He is in demand as an accompanist at DGF High School, Fargo South and Fargo Davies High Schools, Concordia College, NDSU, and MSUM. Michael is a native of Omaha, Nebraska.
His Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education was obtained from Concordia College in Moorhead. His Master of Music degree in Organ Performance was earned from Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
Michael has belonged to the RRVAGO since the 1980s, and in addition to Sub-Dean, he has also served as Dean, Secretary, and other positions and committees.
He is also active in the Red River Theatre Organ Society where he has held various offices.
Oliver Knudson, Secretary
Oliver Knudson is a Brainerd, MN native. From a young age he has had an interest in the organ that would eventually become a new passion. Oliver is currently a fifth-year senior at Concordia College, Moorhead, where he began studying Vocal Music Education and now studies Organ and Church Music with Andrew Steinberg. He is also very involved within the choral department, singing in the Concordia Choir under Dr. Michael Culloton since his sophomore year, Concordia Vocal Jazz, and Tactus, a student vocal chamber ensemble he now directs.
Oliver is currently an accompanist at St. Joseph Catholic Church in Moorhead, where he accompanies the Chancel Choir. He also sings frequently at St. Joe’s, organizing the College Choir for the 11:45 college mass during the school year. After graduating in the spring of 2024, Oliver hopes to pursue a master's degree in Organ Performance, with an emphasis on Church Music and Choral Conducting.
Oliver has served as the secretary for the RRVAGO since 2022, through which he has greatly appreciated the opportunity to get to know many of the organists in the Fargo-Moorhead area.
Alex Swanson at the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organ at the Fargo Theatre
Alex Swanson, Treasurer
ALEX SWANSON was raised on a farm near Moorhead, Minnesota, graduated from Moorhead High School, attended Minnesota State University Moorhead and earned a B.A. in Communication Studies, and then attended the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis and earned a B.S. in Mortuary Science.
He was an active member, organist, and historian of the Oak Mound Congregational Church until its closing and has since belonged to North Buffalo Lutheran Church in Kragnes Township, where he serves as church treasurer, substitute organist, historian, and sings in the choir.
He is also member of the Red River Theatre Organ Society where he has held various offices, and is also a house organist of the Fargo Theatre on the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organ there.
He has belonged to the Red River Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists since 2017 and has held several offices and served on various committees.
He is employed as a mortician at West Funeral Home in West Fargo, ND.
Alpha Roeszler, Publicist
Alex Swanson, Webmaster
Ruth Discher, Pipeline Newsletter Editor
Alex Swanson, Pipeline Newsletter Proofreader
Alex Swanson, Archivist & Historian