Between music, math and memories, a gift for Oles – St. Olaf College

By | November 16, 2022

Richard Steen '69 at his piano in his New York home.
Richard Steen ’69 credit his liberal arts schooling with offering him with the talents he wanted all through his profession. An endowment he created and can help by an property present will assist Oles creatively discover connections between music and different disciplines by faculty-led analysis.

It is type of the proper liberal arts story. A music lover turned mathematician main, double main turned technologist. A life and an expertise to share. Ask Richard Steen ’69.

Margery Mayer, Richard’s mom, was a broadly acclaimed main contralto with New York Metropolis Opera. His father, Sigvart Steen ’31, was a first-generation Ole and likewise a Luther Faculty graduate who based Luther’s Nordic Choir. The Steen household moved to New York for Margery to pursue her profession; the household continuously visited New York’s vibrant cultural scene. Each taught music at Wagner Faculty in Staten Island the place Sigvart additionally led his choir.

“From early childhood, I used to be immersed in a wealthy and delightful world of my mom’s songs,” Steen explains. “I could not assist however take up a number of his innate potential by listening to and imitating him and his voice college students. In highschool, I had additionally caught my father’s ardour for a cappella sacred music.

But arithmetic was additionally an integral a part of their household. Lynn Steen, Richard’s older brother, studied arithmetic at Luther Faculty,

“Arithmetic was such a dominant artistic endeavor for Lynn that I feel he thought of it a brotherly favor to always tease me with math and verbal puzzles,” Steen says.

A lot to their father’s delight, the 2 brothers landed at St. Olaf Faculty within the fall of 1965. Richard arrived on campus as a freshman. Lynn had simply accomplished her doctorate. on the Massachusetts Institute of Expertise and was employed within the math division at St. Olaf’s alongside together with his spouse, Mary Steen, who started educating within the English division.

Like Lynn, Richard first majored in math, including physics and chemistry for good measure. He additionally sang as a baritone within the Chapel Choir after which within the St. Olaf Choir. He struggled at first with a heavy load of introductory science and math courses.

Music trainer Kenneth Jennings, the choir director with whom Steen studied singing, seen his pleasure in singing and inspired him to audit a music principle class.

“I shortly discovered my calling in music and continued to take math courses till I used to be on my option to a double main in each,” Steen says.

The important reasoning, analysis, communication, and private relationship expertise I developed at St. Olaf, and honed with life expertise, have been important for me throughout every of my profession transitions.Richard Steen ’69

Jennings taught Richard about stage presence and constructing his confidence as a performer whereas serving to him put together for graduate college. Steen additionally related with Affiliate Professor of Pure Sciences and Paracollege, Paul Fjelstad ’51, who helped Steen research the interconnected relationship between music and arithmetic. Steen thought of each Jennings and Fjelstad his mentors.

“We delved into every kind of questions on music, philosophy, science and extra,” Steen says. “The participating debate of concepts coupled with the private consideration I skilled at St. Olaf was elementary to me.”

This potential to pivot and interconnect studying throughout disparate fields was for Steen one of many key advantages of his upbringing, permitting him to pursue a distinguished profession in each music and expertise. After graduating, Richard earned a doctorate in music from Yale College College of Music, performed collegiate choral and vocal music as a music trainer, and even operated knowledgeable voice studio in New York Metropolis. He has been knowledgeable soloist in oratorios, operas, vocal recitals and music festivals.

Then, mid-career, Steen turned to expertise. After incomes a grasp’s diploma in pc science, he led pc companies at Harvard College and the Metropolis College of New York, Queens. These experiences led to twenty years as a healthcare info technologist as an affiliate companion at Ernst & Younger and IBM. Now retired, Steen enjoys making use of expertise to music from the house he shares together with his spouse, Robin, close to Lincoln Heart in New York Metropolis.

I hope the combination alternatives supported by this new fund will assist college students develop the important pondering expertise and curiosity wanted to discover music from a number of angles.Richard Steen ’69

To honor his mentors and the ten Steen household family members who preceded him as St. Olaf graduates and musicians, Steen just lately included a present in his property to determine the Richard S. Steen Endowment Fund for Music. as an interdisciplinary artwork. Due to charitable distributions from his particular person retirement account, he was in a position to fund a part of the present now. Its revenue will help analysis by college students supervised by professors who creatively discover the hyperlinks between music and the opposite arts and sciences.

“The important reasoning, analysis, communication, and private relationship expertise I developed at St. Olaf, and honed with life expertise, have been important for me throughout every of my profession transitions” , says Steen.

His donation additionally honors Lynn and Mary’s work to advance analysis alternatives for college kids throughout every of their 44-year phrases at St. Olaf.

“Each are dedicated to serving to Oles conduct impartial analysis, offering versatile pathways of their liberal arts experiences,” Steen stated. “I hope the combination alternatives supported by this new fund will assist college students develop the important pondering expertise and curiosity wanted to discover music from a number of angles.”

Following his ardour wherever it might lead, being open and versatile, and making experiences potential for Oles is a superb present.