Dr. Lee and Mrs. Betty Aasen Kjelson

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Dr. Lee and Mrs. Betty Aasen Kjelson

Dr. Lee “Doc” Kjelson (1927-2009), Professor Emeritus at The Frost School of Music, left a legacy of excellence in the professional field of choral music, having conducted and taught worldwide. Known for his compassion, devotion, and limitless energy, Kjelson touched many lives in his own unique way, striving for excellence, professionalism and dedication to music throughout his career.

A native of Stromsburg, Nebraska, Kjelson served over two decades as a collegiate educator in four states. He was recruited to the University of Miami in 1967 as Director of Music Education and became Director of Choral Activities in 1968 until his retirement in 1993.

As director of the University of Miami Singers, Kjelson accomplished twenty-two national and international concert tours, presenting a wide range of literature, both popular and traditional. He founded the Civic Chorale of Greater Miami in 1970, and for more than twenty years led the Chorale to be Miami's most prestigious university community choral ensemble, performing regularly with the Florida Philharmonic, American Symphony Orchestra, London Philharmonic, the New World Symphony, Israel Philharmonic, and the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra. Kjelson’s work as a guest conductor had significant influence on the lives of countless young musicians through his involvement with All-State and Honor Choirs in forty states, as well as with choirs internationally.

Kjelson received many community, university and national recognitions. At UM, he was honored with The Frost School of Music’s Excellence in Teaching and Most Meritorious Faculty awards; the UM Alumni Association’s annual Inside-Outside award; and The University of Miami’s prestigious James W. McLamore Outstanding Service award, presented for “going above and beyond the call of duty.”

After his retirement, Kjelson continued to support the arts through community and church activities, publications, and the sponsorship with his wife of the “Lee and Betty Kjelson Visiting Scholars Programs” at both the University of Miami and the University of Nebraska. Betty is a UM alumna and former adjunct instructor who received her Master of Art degree in 1971.