Music and Arts

Central has a rich musical tradition, and engages in a variety of styles and genres, both in worship and as a performance venue.

Welcome Adam Van der Sluis, Tenor Section Leader!

Adam headshotAdam Van der Sluis is excited to return to Central Presbyterian as the tenor section leader. Adam is moving back to the Twin Cities after 6 years living in Boston, MA where he worked as an educator. Adam sang in a variety of Boston-area ensembles, most regularly with Chorus Pro Musica (a chorus that has twice received Grammy nominations) and the Tanglewood Festival Chorus (TFC). As a member of the TFC, Adam sang with the Boston Symphony in concerts performed in Symphony Hall and Carnegie Hall. Adam earned a B.A. at Macalester College and an M.Ed. at Harvard Graduate School of Education.

Announcing our Composer-in-Residence:  Abbie Betinis


The Worship, Music, and Arts Committee, along with the Session and staff, is proud to announce that we have hired Abbie Betinis as our composer-in-residence for 2018-2019!

Abbie is one of America’s most-performed living composers. From Carnegie Hall to Disney Hall, grade school assemblies to wedding ceremonies, state prisons to capitol buildings, cathedrals to summer camps, her music is being performed somewhere in the world every day. Working largely by commission, she has created new music for over sixty organizations, including the American Choral Directors Association, American Suzuki Foundation, Cantus, Boston’s Chorus Pro Musica, the Dale Warland Singers, Flying Forms Baroque, James Sewell Ballet, LyricFest, Minnesota Chorale, New England Philharmonic, St Olaf Choir, VocalPoint, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, Zeitgeist, and the Zodiac Trio.

An eager collaborator, she has created new work with Minneapolis poet Michael Dennis Browne, soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw, choreographer James Sewell, and renowned British clarinetist Michael Collins. Recent projects incorporate elements from early American shape-note singing, Chinese mantras, Eleanor Roosevelt’s bedtime routine, Gaelic keening, and the mysticism of medieval Sufism. In the 2018-19 season, she will be the American Composers Forum’s “ChoralQuest” composer, traveling to schools around the U.S. to write new choral music with middle school singers.

A two-time McKnight Artist Fellow, Abbie has won awards from the American Composers Forum, ASCAP, and the Minnesota Music Educators Association, among others. At age 31, she was deemed one of the nation’s top 100 Composers Under 40 by New York’s WQXR-FM and National Public Radio.

On Minnesota Public Radio, her annual premiere of a fresh, new Christmas carol has become a beloved holiday tradition. On public television, her early career as a cancer survivor finding her voice is profiled in the Upper Midwest Emmy award-winning documentary “Never Stop Singing.”

Abbie’s publishers include Augsburg Fortress, G. Schirmer, Graphite, Hal Leonard, and others, as well as her own venture, Abbie Betinis Music Co, through which she distributes her scores from her St. Paul studio to musicians around the world. A small business advocate, she has presented on copyright and publishing at national conferences, moderated a publishing panel for Minnesota Orchestra, and is the publisher and co-editor of the new Justice Choir Songbook.

Inspired by deep friendships, new ideas, and other curious minds, Abbie continues to seek partners for creative endeavors. She has held Composer-in-Residence positions with The Rose Ensemble, New York State School Music Association, The Singers-Minnesota Choral Artists (10 years) and The Schubert Club (12 years), where she continues to host the weekly Courtroom Concert series.

Abbie is a graduate of St. Olaf College (B.A.), the University of Minnesota (M.A.), and holds a diplôme from the EAMA Nadia Boulanger Institute in Paris, France. She is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Concordia University-St Paul, and Executive Director of Justice Choir.

What does a Composer-in-Residence do? Abbie is particularly eager to:

  • Write an original hymn based on our new branding.
  • Create a new table grace, unique to Central, to sing together before our meals.
  • Compose a new anthem for the choir
  • Facilitate creative music-making workshops with the children.
  • Lead an Adult Ed on the creative process.
  • Advise or collaborate on songs and carols for the children’s Christmas pageant.
  • Lead community singing outside of worship, with some possible ideas: grace together before meals, Justice Choir Community Sings, lullaby evening for Project Home families, and more!


The Central Choir

Consisting of both volunteer and professional singers, the Central Choir sings in worship weekly September through May.  Rehearsals are Wednesday evenings and all are welcome!

Rehearsals each Wednesday evening at 7:15 from September through May.  Need childcare?  Need more info?  Please contact Jennifer Anderson if you have questions, or would like more information about joining us!

Music Ministry Upcoming Events

September 2 – Steve Swanson, piano

September 9:  Rally Day!  We welcome the choir back in worship!

September 16 – The Central Choir sings

September 23:  Eva Beneke, guitar and Jennifer Anderson, organ; The Central Choir sings

Born in East-Berlin (Germany), Eva Beneke first laid hands on her father´s guitar at age 8, and later went on to study guitar at the Berlin University of Arts with Prof. Martin Rennert. Her success there led her to the Franz Liszt Hochschule in Weimar to pursue a solo artist diploma with Prof. Thomas Müller-Pering, one of Germany’s most influential guitarists.

In 2007, upon receiving a full scholarship to attend the prestigious USC Thornton School of Music, Eva moved to Los Angeles, where she continued her studies with Scott Tennant, Pepe Romero and jazz-guitar legend Bruce Forman and graduated with a doctorate with honors from the University of Southern California in 2012.

A prize-winner at international guitar competitions in The Netherlands, Italy and the U.S., Eva Beneke is now known as an internationally acclaimed soloist, chamber musician and published arranger.
Her performances are being broadcast nationally and internationally on radio and television, such as NPR´s “Performance Today”, KUSC and ABC-tv.

Highlights of her career include appearances with the German Symphony Orchestra under Kent Nagano, invitations to international music festivals in China, Peru, Germany, Lithuania, the U.S. and Canada, and a live performance with Carrie Underwood at the 2010 American Country Music Awards.

Her solo debut-CD “Coming Home” with works by Bach, Beneke and Domeniconi was praised by Classical Guitar Magazine´s reviewer Steve Marsh as worthy of “a place on my ‘special’ shelf which contains all the recordings which stand out from the rest and get played time and time again.” (2010)

A frequent collaborator, she has quickly become one of the most sought-after chamber-musicians of her field: her 2012 album “In Dulci Jubilo – A Classical Guitar Christmas” is a duo-collaboration with Grammy®-winning guitarist Scott Tennant of the Los Angeles Guitar Quartet and was released by Guitar Salon International.

Her latest album is a NAXOS recording of Fernando Sor´s “Complete Works for Voice and Guitar” (released in 2017) with Spanish mezzo-soprano Nerea BerraondoThe American Record Guide writes: “These performances are anything but boring. Eva Beneke´s playing is…consistently beautiful, sensitive and expressive, with a flawless technical command”.

September 30 – The Central Choir sings

Percussion Ensemble

This group of musicians gather occasionally throughout the year to play in worship.  If you have some rhythm, and want to play with us, please join us.  Contact Jennifer Anderson for more information.

Ars Nova Brass Quintet, artists-in-residence

The Ars Nova Brass Quintet was formed in 1980 when two of the original members, Dean Shea and Ehrich Koch, were attending St. John’s University. Ars Nova means “new art” or “new technique,” and is a phrase first used in 1322 to distinguish the new music of the Late Middle Ages (1310–1377). Ars Nova contrasted with the music of the immediately preceding age, known as Ars Anitiqua. Ars Antiqua was monophonic, with simple rhythms and accompaniment; Ars Nova introduced independence of rhythm and harmony to each musical line, leading to the development of greater musical expressiveness and variety, an evolution analogous to the revolutionary introduction of perspective in painting.

The Ars Nova Brass Quintet engages and entertains its audience by presenting an innovative perspective: Brass instruments are not just for marches and fanfares. The Quintet performs music of variety and expression from all time periods, styles and moods. Their repertoire includes music of the Renaissance, Classical and Romantic periods, both religious and secular, as well as gospel, jazz and ragtime.

VocalPoint, chorus-in-residenceDSC_3280

VocalPoint (a non-profit 501 c 3), is an intense choral experience that challenges people through music to build a better world. We donate 100% of performance-driven donations to a worthy cause that will make a dramatic impact in everyday lives. We have worked with such gifted musicians as Maria Jette, Jearlyn Steele, Zenon Dance Company, Copper Street Brass Quintet, Peter Mayer and The Sounds of Blackness

In our first six seasons, we have raised over $180,00 for  non-profit organizations (Open Arms of Minnesota, Avenues for Homeless Youth, Neighborhood House, The Advocates for Human Rights, Upstream Arts, One Heartland and Twin Cities R!SE.)

Audition information can be found at


Contact Jennifer Anderson, Director of Music, at or ext. 103.