Together In Hope Project


Brian Schmidt

Brian Schmidt

Executive and Artistic Director

Brian A. Schmidt is a GRAMMY©-nominated conductor with a twenty-year career focused on developing meaningful musical experiences for audiences and artists alike. Schmidt has a passion for championing unsung musical heroes past and present and is known for presenting modern premieres of rarely heard and newly discovered composers.

Schmidt founded the South Dakota Chorale in 2009, conducting and leading the organization through rapid growth and recognition. The Chorale released several acclaimed recordings which Gramophone Magazine described as “luminous,” Audiophile Audition called “stunning,” and the ensemble was hailed as “one of the most exciting choral ensembles in America” by Sounds Choral (WWFM). Their 2017 recording of Tyberg Masses, received three GRAMMY© nominations including ‘Best Engineered Album, Classical,’ ‘Best Surround Sound, Classical,’ and ‘Best Choral Performance.’ His discography includes recordings found on Pentatone, MSR Classics, Gothic Records, and Oxford University Press Music.

Currently, Schmidt is Associate Professor of Choral Music at Baylor University and leads the Baylor A Cappella Choir and Chamber Singers along with the graduate program in choral conducting. With the A Cappella Choir, they won The American Prize in the Collegiate Choral Division in 2020. He is also the founder and director of the Baylor International Choral Conducting Masterclass and Young Artist Program (ICCM), an intensive summer program providing training for the next generation of young conductors.

In demand as a clinician and lecturer across the United States, Schmidt most recently presented at regional conferences of the American Choral Directors Association (ACDA), on ‘Combining Visual Arts and Choral Music’ and ‘Using Instruments with Renaissance Choral Music’. Previously, he was conductor of the Duke Vespers Ensemble at Duke Chapel, where he also founded both a monthly Bach Cantata Series and Cappella Baroque, a professional period-instrument orchestra specializing in early music.

As a guest conductor, Schmidt has appeared with St. Jacob’s Choir of Stockholm, Phoenix Chorale, Magnum Chorum, Boston Early Music Festival, The Rolling Stones, and at ACDA’s National Conference. ACDA also selected him to represent America in the International Conductor Exchange Program in Sweden. In 2022, Schmidt will guest conduct the British Colombia Honour Choir in Vancouver, Canada and in 2023, he will make his Lincoln Center debut leading the choral music of Ola Gjeilo, presented by Distinguished Concerts International New York.

A Minnesota native, Schmidt was recently named Executive and Artistic Director of the Together In Hope Project in Minneapolis. Schmidt studied choral music at South Dakota State University and holds a master’s degree and doctorate of music arts in choral conducting at the University of North Texas.

Gary Aamodt

Gary Aamodt


Gary Aamodt has had a life-long commitment to choral music. For many years, he was an active participant in community and church choirs, as both soloist and ensemble singer. In college and graduate school, he sang in the St. Olaf Choir and the Yale Russian Chorus. He knows that music has a transformative power to move people to new understanding and action.

After teaching philosophy at Yale University and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Gary co-founded A-R Editions, Inc., a publisher of historical musicology. In 1979, his company invented the world’s first computerized system for setting music. Years later, Gary created MusicNotes, the world’s largest online library of digital sheet music. From 1992-95 Gary served as President and CEO of Augsburg Fortress, Publishers. In retirement, he has been an active real estate investor and has served on several nonprofit boards. Gary is especially grateful that he has had the privilege of commissioning several significant musical compositions for choir and orchestra.

Gary holds degrees from St. Olaf College and Yale University.

Celia Ellingson

Celia Ellingson


An amateur musician who plays five instruments, Celia Ellingson founded the Together In Hope Project with Gary Aamodt. The organization grew out of their efforts to make a difference in the world through music.

Celia has had a successful business career as a marketer, consultant, and philanthropy executive. She spent many years with Arthur Andersen as a marketer and business consultant in the areas of strategy and organizational change. After leaving Andersen in 2001, Celia helped build a management consulting practice for a regional CPA firm before launching her own consulting business in 2006. From 2011-2017 Celia led philanthropic strategy development and organizational ramp-up of a major new US grantmaking organization.

Celia holds a Bachelor of Arts with double majors in History and Child Psychology and a Masters’ in Library Science from the University of Minnesota.

Board of Directors

Together In Hope Project is a Minnesota nonprofit corporation and 501(c)(3) organization governed by a Board of Directors composed of Gary Aamodt, Celia Ellingson and Diane Shelgren.

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P.O. Box 398094
Minneapolis, MN 55439