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 social media 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.
Michael Olson, Dean
MICHAEL OLSON, Dean of the Red River Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, is the Minister of Music at First Lutheran Church in Fargo, a position he has held since May 1985. He is also the North Dakota District Convener for the American Guild of Organists and serves as the Vice President of the Red River Theatre Organ Society.
A native of Omaha, Nebraska, Michael graduated from Burke High School. He received a Bachelor of Music degree in Music Education from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota and a Master of Music degree in Organ Performance from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, TX.
Michael maintains a studio of piano and organ students
and is in demand as an accompanist at area high schools
and colleges. He has served as an accompanist for the Red
River Boy Choir and the Fargo-Moorhead Chamber
Chorale. He also was the organ instructor at Valley City State University from 1993 to 1995.
He is a member of the American Guild of Organists, the American Theatre Organ Society, Choristers Guild, and the Handbell Musicians of America.
Dillon Swanson, Sub-Dean
Bradley Steen, Secretary
BRADLEY J. STEEN, Secretary of the Red River Valley Chapter of the American Guild of Organists, is Cathedral Organist at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fargo, ND, a position he has held since May 2017. He has also served as an organist, pianist, and accompanist at Sts. Anne & Joachim Catholic Church in Fargo since January 1996. He has been a ringer in the hand bell choir during part of his tenure there.
Bradley is originally from Fergus Falls, MN where he graduated from Fergus Falls High School. He is a graduate of Minnesota State University Moorhead where he received a BA degree in History and Music. He retired from North Dakota State University in November of 2014 after being employed at the NDSU Bookstore for thirty-seven years.
He is a member of the American Guild of Organists where he has held various offices in the Red River Valley Chapter through the years, the American Theatre Organ Society, and the Knights of Columbus.
Bradley enjoys reading, listening to music, viewing classic television and cinema, and has an avocational interest in architecture, church history, and transportation history including automobiles, trains, ships, and airplanes.
Alex Swanson, Treasurer
ALEX SWANSON was raised on a fifth-generation family farm north of Moorhead near Kragnes, Minnesota, where he has lived all his life. While growing up, he was active in community affairs and belonged to the Oak Mound 4-H Club. He graduated from Moorhead High School in 2014 and attended Minnesota State University Moorhead where he earned a B.A. in Communication Studies in 2018. In 2019, he earned a B.S. in Mortuary Science at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis.
He was an active member, organist, and historian of the Oak Mound Congregational Church until its closing and has since been a member of the North Buffalo Lutheran Church in Kragnes Township, where he held offices in the Luther League and sang in the church choir, in addition to serving on various committees and as substitute church organist. He has also served as part-time and substitute organist for many other area churches.
Alex Swanson at the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organ at the Fargo Theatre
In addition to his treasurer duties with the Red River Valley Chapter of the AGO, Alex is also treasurer of the Red River Theatre Organ Society and has served as its president and vice president. He was a house organist at the Fargo Theatre on the "Mighty Wurlitzer" theatre pipe organ there for four years.
Alex is Vice President of the Oak Mound Cemetery Association and was secretary and vice president of the Probstfield Farm Living History Foundation board of trustees.
His hobbies include collecting and restoring vintage farm tractors, music, and genealogy. He belongs to the Lake Agassiz Two-Cylinder Club and currently serves as its president, and is also active in the Western Minnesota Steam Threshers Reunion, where he is a committee chairman.
Alex lives on his great-grandparents' farmstead near Kragnes and works as an intern funeral director at West Funeral Home & Life Tribute Center in West Fargo.
Ryan Hardy, Social Media Officer
Dr. Jean Hellner, Webmaster
As a musicologist, theorist, pianist, and organist, JEAN HELLNER enjoys performing, studying, and teaching music. She earned a PhD in musicology from the University of North Texas, where she also taught, performed in the new music ensemble, and played the viola da gamba in the early music ensemble. She holds a master's degree in musicology from The Florida State University in Tallahassee, and, as part of her undergraduate education, she studied piano with Rosario Marciano and music history with Friedrich Heller in Vienna, Austria.
Being an active scholar and performer, Jean has given
several papers and lecture recitals locally, nationally,
and internationally. Having a broad range of interests,
her research encompasses a wide variety of topics from
eighteenth-century opera to nineteenth-century symphonic music to the music of
Jean currently studies organ with Peter Nygaard, and she serves as an organist at Peace Lutheran Church in Fargo and as a substitute organist at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead. In addition to being a member of the RRVAGO and the Society for Eighteenth-Century Music, she is a founding member of the Edvard Grieg Society of the Dakotas and the Community Orchestra Academy.
Ruth Discher, Pipeline Newsletter Editor
Alpha Roeszler, Pipeline Newsletter Proofreader
Dr. Jean Hellner & Alex Swanson, Archivists