Laurie Redmer Minner
Laurie Redmer Minner, violinist, violist, singer, and conductor, is director of the Southern Adventist University Symphony Orchestra and head of the string department, a position she has held since 2000. An associate professor of music, she also teaches viola and violin lessons, string methods, conducting, and music education classes.
Laurie was born in Clarkston, Washington, the younger of two daughters of Gordon H. and Audrey Redmer. Although her father was not a musician, he and her mother, an amateur organist and pianist, fully supported her early interest and study in violin:
When I was five I took the lid off an old cigar box and strung string across it. I found a branch outside, placed “my violin” under my chin and pretended to play it with the branch. My parents took one look at what I was doing and said, “We need to get this child a violin.”
I began taking lessons at six, studying with Gregor Agranoff, a Russian who had fled from Russia with his father just before it became a communist country and was now living in Ephrata [Washington]. He had been a student of Leopold Auer, noted violin teacher in Russia. I studied with him for nine years before I left home to attend Walla Walla Valley Academy, where I studied with Glenn Spring, the string teacher at nearby Walla Walla College [now University] for the next two years.
Laurie graduated from Walla Walla Valley Academy in 1979, where she had played violin in the orchestra at nearby Walla Walla College, and in the Walla Walla Symphony. She enrolled at Atlantic Union College and completed a bachelor’s degree in music education with violin as her performance area in 1983. She then completed master’s degrees in viola and conducting at the New England Conservatory of Music in 1990 and 1992, respectively.
During her studies, she taught at the New England Conservatory Extension Division, Greater Boston and South Lancaster academies, the Walnut Hill School for the Arts, and the Thayer Conservatory of Music at AUC. She also played in the Boston Philharmonic, Symphony Pro Musica, the Salisbury Lyric Opera, and the Salisbury Chamber Orchestra. She directed the Salisbury Singers during their 20th season in 1994. For six years, 1992-1998, she conducted one of the divisions of the Western Massachusetts Youth Orchestra, The Young People’s Philharmonic, based in Springfield.
Throughout her undergraduate and graduate study and in the decade that followed, Redmer was a member of the New England Youth Ensemble under the leadership of Virginia-Gene Rittenhouse. She toured with the NEYE as a member and soloist in Europe, Russia, Australia, Asia, China, and the U.S.
She also toured with her Greater Boston Academy choir to Russia in1996 and 1998, and with her choir at South Lancaster Academy. The SAU orchestra under her leadership toured in Europe in 2005 and 2008, and in Poland in 2011. Her mother and father traveled with her on many of the Youth Ensemble Tours and with her groups at the two academies, her father particularly enjoying the tour to China with the NEYE in 1982.
Beginning in 1998 Redmer became a faculty member at Columbia Union College, now Washington Adventist University, where she taught viola, oversaw its music education program, ran the preparatory program, and also directed the string and choral program at Takoma Academy. She also led the Sligo SDA Church choir and when the NEYE toured in Australia formed and directed the Maryland Consort of Instruments for that trip. In 2000 she was appointed to her present position at SAU.
In 2002 she traveled to Peru, where she spent a week as guest conductor of the National Conservatory Orchestra in Lima. She conducted the orchestra at the General Conference Session of SDA’s in Atlanta in 2010.
Minner has yet another interest in her life besides that of music. Since she was ten, she has been an avid participant in sports, starting with softball. She was one of the first persons in Miss Softball America, a pioneer group in girls’ sports. She has continued to be involved in other intramural school sports, including basketball, serving as coach of girls’ basketball teams in the academies, and volleyball wherever she has attended or taught, including SAU, where she is also involved in summer league sports.
In 2001 she married Ray Minner, a communications graduate of SAU who taught history and literature and had worked in public relations. He unexpectedly died suddenly on July 3, 2012, and is survived by Laurie, three adult daughters, a son, and three grandchildren.
Sources: Interview, September 2013; Biographies at Southern Adventist University (2013); Rachel Sauls, “Community mourns Minner,” community.times freepress.com, 18 July 2012; joelance, “In memory of Ray Minner,” 25 Octoer 2012; Obituary, Gordon H. Redmer, Columbia Basin Herald, 30 May 2013; International Adventist Musicians Notes, Autumn 1992, 20; Winter 1994,15; Spring 1996, 20; Spring 2000,18; personal knowledge.