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Mankato Riverblenders History


Award of Harmony: given annually to an individual (non-barbershopper) who has contributed to harmony in our community.


Elmer Fritz


Betty Painter


Dorothy Foster


Fr. Robert Crosbie


Roy B. Moore


Ray Kraus


Bunny Just


Don Paap


Sara McKay


Harold Paul


Allen Wortman


Dagne Pearson


Jean Sorenson


Dr. Eillis Jones


Chuck Pasek


Robert Warrent


Fred Lutz


Lowell Schreyer


Carol Grimmer


Claire and Hazel Faust


Martin Larson


Bob Wirtz


Jack McGowan


Paulette Redman


Angie Miller


Sue Splinter


Pamela Determan


Denny & Karen Sandersfeld


John Berg


Truman Wood

2010 Pam DeMarce 2011 Win and Shirley Grundmeir
2012 Jerry and Carol Larson 2013 Jeanne Makela and Denny Wahlstrom
2014 Gretchen Etzell 2015

Scott Wojcik

2016 Barbara Frank 2017 Sandy Stenzel
2018 Christine Schulz 2019 Robin Hughes

Each year the Mankato Area Riverblenders present our Award of Harmony to someone who is creating harmony in our community and making a significant contribution to all of us by what they have done.  Over the years, we’ve recognized outstanding community leaders, business people, educators, volunteers, artists, and musicians.  And in each case, our award winners have created unusual harmony by what they had done.  Often it has been done through their music and again this year, we are privileged to recognize a wonderful musician who has enriched our lives with her beautiful music. 
Our recipient was born in Fort Dix, New Jersey and graduated from high school in Clifton, New Jersey.  Our talented musician was just 12 months old when her parents noticed she memorized nursery rhymes and often woke with a smile while singing every word.  She played the piano and took advantage of every singing opportunity in high school and church.  She nurtured a deep faith in God and had a tremendous sense of responsibility to whatever she put her mind to – whether it was a singing a solo, preparing her school work, finding a good summer job or giving a sermon in church.  But, she always wanted to be a choir director.  She was a member of the National Honor Society and the student director of the high school choir.  When it came time for college, her pastor knew of a college with a very good music program, but, it was way out west.  She came for a campus orientation on a cold winter day in February but knew immediately that Gustavus Adolphus College would be her home for the next 4 years.
That fall, it was her very first day on campus when she met a very important person.  He was a Gustavus football player there to help freshman move their belongings into the dorm.  There must have been a special connection, because after that chance meeting they were inseparable for the next 4 years.  She majored in music and sang in the Gustavus Choir for 4 years under Karl Erickson.  She practice taught at Mankato West High School and soon gained a reputation for her attention to detail and excellence in music.  When she graduated she married her football sweetheart and they began their lives together in St. Peter. 
For a short time she was the youth director at First Lutheran Church in St. Peter and soon was hired to teach music in the St. Peter School system for 17 years.  She taught elementary music and then became the Senior High School Choral Director.  There were only 23 members in the high school choir when she began and just a few boys.  So she began working with the high school football coach to get guys interested in music and soon, as more guys joined the choir, it seemed more girls wanted to join.  Eventually, there were over 150 singers in her choral music program and before she left St. Peter, 80% of senior high school students were participating in some sort of music program. 
In the fall of 2004, she joined the faculty at Mankato East High School where she is currently the Director of Choral Activities and the vocal director for all musical productions.  The Mankato East Concert Choir was selected to perform in 2009 and 2012 at the Minnesota Music Educators Mid-Winter Clinic and they have been a featured guest choir at Luther College, MSU/Mankato, the University of Wisconsin/Eau Claire and Gustavus Adolphus College.  In addition, she conducted the Minnesota State University/Mankato Women’s Chorale from 1997-2005 and is the Senior Choir Director at Christ the King Lutheran Church.
She has served the Minnesota Music Educator’s Association as Choral Vice-President, Choral Assistant, Regional Representative and All-State Team and Section Leader.  She served the American Choral Director’s Association (ACDA) as the Southwest Chair and in 1996 received the Minnesota ACDA, Young Choral Director of the Year Award.  She has served as an adjudicator, clinician and guest conductor for contests and festivals at various academic levels throughout the area.  In 2008, she was presented the KEYC Golden Apple Award for her excellence in teaching. 
In 2015, she was selected to be Choir Director of the Minnesota Ambassadors of Music.  Every other year, this prestigious group represents the state on a 16-day tour of seven European countries and is comprised of Minnesota’s best band and choir students.  Last summer, over 350 students toured providing them with amazing musical experiences and wonderful life changing opportunities abroad.  Along with her college sweetheart and husband, Al, she has raised 2 wonderful children, Robert and Allison, and is the proud grandmother of 5 grandchildren.   The secret to her life of musical excellence is that she creates music through others with deep respect and love for each one.
Ladies and Gentlemen, please join me as we recognize the recipient of our 2019 Award of Harmony – Robin Hughes!

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