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.

Announcing our new Alto Section Leader:  Abbie Betinis


ABBIE BETINIS (b. 1980) has loved experimenting with sound since age 3, when her parents – singing in the car – heard an excited squeal from the backseat: “I holded my own hawmony!” Now her catalog of over sixty commissioned works includes projects for the American Suzuki Foundation, Cantus, Dale Warland Singers, James Sewell Ballet, The Rose Ensemble, Young New Yorkers’ Chorus, and Zeitgeist.

As an alto in the Dale Warland Singers she recorded three albums with the group, including the Grammy-nominated “Argento: Walden Pond,” she was a founding member of The Singers—Minnesota Choral Artists where she sang for six seasons, and has been a section-leader for the SPCO Chorale, singing under the direction of Douglas Boyd, Nicholas McGegan, and Dale Warland.  She has also sung with the Minnesota Beethoven Festival Chorale, VocalEssence, and The St. Olaf Choir, soloed with the a cappella group Deviated Septet, and annually leads the MPR Carolers in new carols on Minnesota Public Radio.

A language enthusiast with a penchant for research, Abbie enjoys exploring the world through music, leading her to incorporate into her projects elements from early American shape-note singing, Chinese compassion mantras, ancient Greek binding spells, Gaelic keening, Japanese origami, and – in an extended piece for women’s voices with cello, oud, and Persian hand drums – the mysticism of 14th c. Sufism.

Abbie also enjoys the collaborative process. After completing Nautilus Music-Theater’s Composer-Librettist Studio, where five composers and five librettists study the art of collaboration, she co-created the ballet Ribcage with soprano Carrie Henneman Shaw, electric guitarist Jesse Langen, and the James Sewell Ballet. She and poet Michael Dennis Browne have also recently worked together to create an origami-inspired piece entitled A Blessing of Cranes for the American Choral Directors Association’s Commission Consortium.

A two-time McKnight Artist Fellow, Abbie has also received the American Composers Forum’s Subito and Encore grants, Craig and Janet Swan Composer Prize, Esoterics’ Polyphonos Young Composer Prize, and awards from Donne in Musica(Italy), Minnesota Music Educators Association, and New York’s Sorel Organization, among others. In 2011, she was selected by NPR Music and New York’s WQXR Public Radio in their list of “100 Composers Under 40.” Her song cycle “Nattsanger (Nightsongs)” for soprano, clarinet and piano won an Honorable Mention in ASCAP’s Morton Gould Young Composer Awards and is released on the Naxos label.

Minnesota Public Radio has recorded and produced Abbie’s annual Christmas carol since 2001, and National Public Radio and Public Radio International have aired her music in performances by the Dale Warland Singers, Philadelphia Singers and The Rose Ensemble. Abbie is one of the artists profiled in the Twin Cities Public Television documentary “Never Stop Singing,” which won an Upper Midwest Regional Emmy Award.

Abbie’s music is published by Graphite Publishing, Hal Leonard, Kjos, in G. Schirmer’s Dale Warland Series, and by her own venture, Abbie Betinis Music Co, which she founded in 2006 to distribute her sheet music internationally straight from her studio in Saint Paul. A strong proponent of small business and cooperative models, she co-founded the Independent Music Publishers Cooperative (IMP) in 2012, and served as its president for its first four years. Through cross-marketing campaigns with IMP’s other small publishers, Abbie’s music was performed last year on five continents, totaling over 400 performances.

In 2015, Abbie was a resident composer at the Zodiac Music Festival in the French Alps, where she wrote for the Zodiac Trio. In 2016, clarinetist Michael Collins and pianist Michael McHale premiered her “Rhapsodos” on The Schubert Club’s International Artist Series in Saint Paul.

Abbie is a graduate of the Suzuki piano program in her hometown of Stevens Point, Wisconsin, holds a B.A. in music from St. Olaf College, M.A. in music composition from the University of Minnesota, and has done post-graduate work in Paris, France on scholarship from the European American Musical Alliance, where she studied harmony and counterpoint in the tradition of Nadia Boulanger with Philip Lasser and Narcis Bonet.

A three-time cancer survivor, Abbie lives in Saint Paul, Minnesota, where she is Adjunct Professor of Composition at Concordia University, host of The Schubert Club’s Courtroom Concerts at the Landmark Center in downtown St Paul, and the newest member (singing high tenor) with St. Paul’s long-running doo-wop quartet, The Fairlanes.

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 2017-2018


December 3 TUBACHRISTMAS hosted at Central 4 pm

December 13 Pop Up Classical concert co-sponsored by Minnesota Public Radio, featuring The OK Factor

December 17 Traditional Nine Lessons and Carols, featuring Chione along with The Central Choir

January 21 Linda Kachelmeier, composer, conductor, vocalist

February 10/11 VocalPoint with special guests Sounds of Blackness

March 11  Food Drive Concert at First Presbyterian Church in South St. Paul

April 22 Paul Winter’s Earth Mass for chorus, children’s choir, chamber ensemble, and sounds from nature

April 29 Ahmed Anzaldúa, pianist, conductor, Co-Editor of the Justice Choir Songbook

May 13 Jake Runestad, composer, conductor

May 20 Pentecost music celebration

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-residence

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, and Peter Mayer.

In our first six seasons, we have raised over $140,00 for  non-profit organizations (Open Arms of Minnesota, Avenues for Homeless Youth, Neighborhood House, The Advocates for Human Rights, Upstream Arts, and One Heartland.)

Audition information can be found at


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