Lyle Gilbert,  director

Lyle Gilbert, director

 
 
 
 
 
 Dolph Bezoier,  director

Dolph Bezoier, director

 
 
 
 
 Gary Bangstad,  director

Gary Bangstad, director

 
 
 
 Bill Hughes,  director

Bill Hughes, director

 Lucille Rud,  director

Lucille Rud, director

 
 
 Robert Peterson, 1978

Robert Peterson, 1978

 Diana Leland,  director

Diana Leland, director

 
 David Henderson,  director

David Henderson, director

In the early 1940s, with no public school classes of their own past eighth grade, Edina-Morningside residents began lobbying for their own junior-senior high school. After delays from World War 2, the Edina-Morningside Junior-Senior High welcomed its first students in 1949.

Lyle Gilbert was the first director at Edina-Morningside, conducting the school's two choirs, Senior Choir and Junior Choir.

 Edina-Morningside High School Senior Choir, 1959

Edina-Morningside High School Senior Choir, 1959

In 1956, Edina-Morningside Junior High opened to grades 7 and 8 in its own new building (now South View Middle School). Donald "Dolph" Bezoier become director in 1956 of the senior high choirs. Under Bezoier's leadership, the structure of choirs changed to a mixed choir and a girls' choir. Among the highlights of the 1950s and 1960s were the Lake Conference Choir Festivals and the choirs' annual Christmas programs.

 Christmas Program, 1958

Christmas Program, 1958

The 1960s saw "Morningside" dropped from the senior high's name. On the west side of the city, Valley View Junior High opened in 1964. Bezoier continued at the helm of the Edina High School choirs through the 1970-71 school year. Gary Bangstad took over as choral director in 1971-72.

 Girls' Choir in rehearsal, 1972

Girls' Choir in rehearsal, 1972

A major change occurred in the fall of 1972. After years of growing enrollment and overcrowding at the senior high, a second high school opened adjacent to Valley View Junior High on the city's west side. The state-of-the-art building was aptly named "Edina-West Upper Division," (with Valley View becoming the "Lower Division"); the original campus was renamed "Edina East." 

The newly-completed Edina-West Campus, 1972

A new high school brings opportunities to establish brand new traditions, and in the fall of 1972, William "Bill" Hughes presided over the development of a new choral program. Hughes directed the Edina-West Concert Choir, while colleague Lucille Rud conducted the Girls' Choir.

It was under Hughes' leadership in 1973 that the phenomenon of "Current Jam" began at Edina-West. Students quickly seized on the opportunity to perform pop tunes and arrange their own songs in the spring of each year. Not long after, "Happenin'" was established as the Varsity Choir's version of the spring production.

 The cover page of the first Current Jam program, 1973

The cover page of the first Current Jam program, 1973

 Current Jam album cover, 1974

Current Jam album cover, 1974

 

Hughes left at the conclusion of the 1975-76 school year; later that fall, Dr. Robert L. Peterson began his 22-year tenure leading the choral program at Edina-West, and later the reunified Edina High School. 

 

Diana Leland was Peterson's long-time colleague, teaching Varsity Choir and Choraliers at the high school for several years in the 1970s, as well as leading the choral program at Valley View Middle School until the spring of 2000. Leland returned to EHS to once again direct the Varsity Choir from 2000 through the 2004-2005 school year. 

 Bob Peterson conducting Concert Choir at Orchestra Hall in 1981

Bob Peterson conducting Concert Choir at Orchestra Hall in 1981

In the Spring of 1981, Edina-East closed its doors, and in the fall of that year, Edina-West opened as the sole Edina High School with all of the district's sophomores, juniors, and seniors attending there. Peterson remained at the helm of the choral program, merging traditions from both schools.

The 1980s saw subtle changes: changing enrollment, new building schedules, and even construction projects, to name a few. However, the mainstays of the program held fast. In 1990, Concert Choir performed at the Mid-Winter Clinic of the Minnesota Music Educators' Association. Current Jam continued to grow, with new technologies in video and lighting become standard elements of the production.

Peterson retired from Edina High School in the spring of 1998. His successor, Dr. David O. Henderson, however, was not a newcomer, having worked with Peterson for several years, including directing Varsity Choir.

The 2000s have seen both good stability and enhancements in the program. In 2003, the community approved an $86 million referendum to improve all district buildings. At the high school, significant renovations took place alongside the addition of new spaces, including an arts wing with both small and large rehearsal rooms for band, orchestra, and choir, as well as a state-of-the-art music-theater auditorium. The new facilities were completed in 2007.

 Edina Men's Chorus rehearsing choreography for Current Jam.

Edina Men's Chorus rehearsing choreography for Current Jam.

In 2014, following several years of study and planning, the Edina Board of Education approved grade-level reconfiguration of the middle schools and high school. Beginning in September 2017, Edina High School added ninth grade; the choral program grew significantly in enrollment, as did staffing to three full-time directors. The growth warranted additional rehearsal spaces for all music classes, so careful planning resulted in a new choral department suite with two large rehearsal rooms, storage, and office space.