DECORAH — Andrew Last has been named conductor of Luther College's noted Nordic Choir.
Last, a Mason City native, will begin his duties as director of choral activities at the beginning of the 2017 fall semester. He is assistant professor of music at Luther College.
The Luther College Nordic Choir, created in 1946, gained international recognition during the 57-year tenure of Weston Noble, a Riceville native who retired in 2005 and died Dec. 21, 2016.
Last will succeed Allen Hightower, who was professor of music, director of choral activities and conductor of Nordic Choir from 2010-16.
"Dr. Last's talents as a conductor, his gifts as an educator and his love for Luther will enable him to build on the legacy of musical excellence that Weston Noble created for Nordic Choir," said Luther President Paula Carlson. "Andy's ability to encourage and inspire students and his warm and welcoming presence will mark his leadership of the choir."
Last has been assistant professor of music at Luther since 2012, conducting Collegiate Chorale and the first-year men's ensemble Norsemen. He also teaches conducting and high school choral methods, and serves as camp director of Dorian Summer Music Camp.
Under Last's direction, the Luther College Collegiate Chorale was selected to sing at the regional American Choral Directors Association convention and the national ACDA convention in 2017.
Last is a member of Pi Kappa Lambda and Phi Kappa Phi honor societies, as well as the American Choral Directors Association.
He graduated from Luther in 1997 with a bachelor's degree in music education, earned a master's degree in choral conducting from Northern Arizona University and the Doctor of Musical Arts in choral conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music.
He is son of Michael and Colleen Last of Mason City and grandson of Melvin and Clara Samuelson of Storm Lake.
He served as director of choral activities at Tipton High School in Tipton from 1997-2002. While studying at Northern Arizona University, he conducted the University Singers, and was assistant conductor of the Shrine of the Ages Choir and the NAU Vocal Jazz Ensemble.
He was director of choral activities at Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, from 2004-10, conducting the Xavier Chorale, Voce Chamber Ensemble, Singing Saints and Xhilaration. He was camp director of the Xavier Show Choir Camp, the contest director for Xavier Xtravaganza and the event coordinator for the Metro Catholic Choral Festival.
During graduate studies at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, Last was conductor of the Big Red Singers and the City Campus Choir, assistant conductor of the University Singers, camp director for the Nebraska Show Choir Camp and contest director for the Midwest Cup.
From 2011-12, Last was on the voice faculty at Concordia University in Nebraska.