UNIVERSITY OF WISCONSIN River Falls
Elliot Wold was born in Barron, WI, on January 31, 1930. He earned his Bachelor of Music from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, and then his Master of Music degree from the University of Wisconsin - Madison. From 1966-1968 he did additional post-graduate work at Northwestern University in Evanston, north of Chicago.
Mr. Wold joined the Music Faculty at UW-RF in 1963, the same year as Nick Karolides joined English, Mary Barrett joined the Art Department, and Terry King joined the History Department. Elliot served as department chairman from 1969-78 and again from 1994-1997. It was during his tenure, in 1973, that the Kleinpell Fine Arts Building opened, and the East Wing was devoted entirely to Music. For the first time in many years, all the members of the department were together in one place with spacious facilities. When Elliot first came to River Falls, his office was on the 3rd floor of South Hall facing south. There were also History Department offices on the third floor. The large windows were always left open in nice weather, and in the spring and fall, if you were walking through the heart of campus late in the afternoon, you could hear students singing or playing trumpets as the sound wafted over the lawns. The choirs rehearsed in Room 310 South Hall, at the top of the stairs in what is now the Alumni Office. Other offices and studios were in Hathorn Cottage.
Mr. Wold taught private voice lessons, choral conducting, and vocal and choral pedagogy. He directed the University Concert Choir and the Chamber Singers. He guest conducted many choir festivals in high schools and universities throughout the Upper Midwest and was well known. He continued the tradition of touring begun by Nick Jadinak. One year they would tour in the United States, usually throughout the Midwest, and then they started to travel internationally. He was state Chairman of the American Choral Directors Association.
Elliot was also a great showman, and enjoyed showing off the talents of his choirs on American and international tours. Under his direction, the Concert Choir performed eleven international tours including Canada, Japan, Taiwan, and Western Europe plus England and Scotland. The tours were an opportunity for Europe and Asia to learn of the talents of American college students, and for UW-RF students to learn of other parts of the world and other cultures. Many of the students felt their lives were changed forever by the experiences. And they had many adventures along the way.
In 1970 Mr. Wold was invited to participate in the production of a Medieval Madrigal Banquet Program at the university. He sprang at the chance. He utilized both the Concert Choir and the Chamber Singers. The Theater Department graciously allowed the use of their costume collection, and so everyone was dressed in an authentic 15th or 16th century costume, including the Master of Revelries, Mr. Wold himself. An authentic 15th century menu was served, without silverware since it has not yet been invented. Wenches and churls dressed in burlap bags served the dinner at Rodli, which was decorated with splendid medieval banners, a roast boar appeared, and Elliot and his choirs entertained with wonderful medieval music for several hours. The tradition continued for ten years. It was the best Madrigal Banquet in the Upper Midwest, and hundreds of people from the Twin Cities, as well as people from River Falls, came each year to enjoy themselves.
The Christmas Concerts at the university were always special events and important markers of the season. His choirs were always very well rehearsed and trained, and the audiences appreciated the professionalism and beautiful music produced.
Mr. Wold also guest-conducted many other groups, including the Bach Society Chorus and Orchestra of the Twin Cities, the Eau Claire Arts Chorale, and a "British Cathedral Spectacular" at the St. Paul Cathedral in 1986.
Since he retired from the university in 1998, Mr. Wold continues to lead Alumni Choir international tours, and UW-RF Music alumni have traveled to Italy, the Czech Republic, Germany, England, France, Switzerland, Austria, and other destinations. It is a great enrichment to everyone's life, an opportunity to maintain contact with good friends from university days, and always a chance for new adventures.
Today Mr. Wold continues to live on the west side of River Falls, to lead alumni choir tours, and to enjoy his pipe.