The After-Hours Artist

For the MSUM faculty and staff members profiled below, art is an essential component of their lives. Some of them once considered artistic careers but ended up going a different direction. Allison Wallace was a music major for two years before she recognized she wanted to be a scientist. Rebecca Sundet-Schoenwald received a master’s degree in flute performance and then went to work as a reporter at a daily newspaper. Derek Lien made his living in a band for several years in Nashville before moving back to Minnesota to work as a graphic designer. And Earnest Lamb pursued a career as a professional cellist before becoming a teacher.

“Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time,” wrote theologian, writer and activist Thomas Merton.

These eight MSUM Dragons would wholeheartedly agree.

Alison Wallace
Professor, Biosciences Department
Violinist in the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony


“I promised myself I would always find time to perform no matter what type of group, or style of music available to me. Aside from the three years in my twenties when I was in graduate school with two small children, I have kept that promise. Music has allowed me to stay mentally healthy during times of stress in my life. It centers me and never fails to show me the beauty of humanity. As a biologist, I explore and wonder about life. As a musician, I celebrate it.”

Marsha Weber
Interim Vice President for Academic Affairs


“I have always loved music, especially playing the piano. Music has always been important to me. Playing piano is a great stress reliever and something that makes me feel happy. I’ve met lots of good friends throughout my music activities.”

Larry Schwartz
Actor and Director Fargo-Moorhead Community Theatre


“Directing and acting have been an outlet for me to manifest the creative ability I have and crave. I have met some wonderful people during my time in theatre, and being among theatre folk, artists and musicians is tremendously rewarding.”

Paul Sando
Associate Professor, Anthropology and Earth Science Department
Trumpet player in the Red River Valley Veterans Concert Band


“Music is very much like a second language and challenges your brain in similar ways that learning another language does. I really appreciate the honor it is to bring live music to those who cannot get out and would not otherwise hear it. It is especially moving to watch those elderly veterans and how much they appreciate what we do.”

Rebecca Sundet-Schoenwald
Assistant to the Dean of Arts, Media & Communication
Flutist in the Fargo-Moorhead Symphony


“Nothing makes sense to me the way music does. I don’t play every day, but it’s always with me, always in my head and heart. I especially love performing with the symphony. There’s just nothing else like sharing the stage with 70 or so other musicians unified by the power that this music has over us all, and by our desire to create something meaningful, together.”

Earnest Lamb
Dean of the College of Arts Media and Communication


“Music communicates. Not just emotions and feelings, but who you are as a person. When I would visit acquaintances, back in the days of CDs, I would always look at their CD collection. Their musical taste spoke volumes about who they were as a person. I think this is why people say music is a language.”

Gary Edvenson
Professor, Chemistry Department
Singer for Great Plains Harmony Men’s Chorus


“I love the sound we make together as a chorus and am energized by the music. I have songs in my head almost all the time. My mother was a professional singer with the Chicago Symphony Chorus for 25 years. She passed away three years ago after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for quite a few years. One of our favorite activities during her last few years was singing hymns and old songs together. Amazingly, she remembered the lyrics and melodies of songs from when she was in her twenties and thirties. These singing sessions were full of joy for both of us.”

Derek Lien
Graphic designer, MSUM Marketing and Communications
Drummer for the local band, Redline


“Playing in the live music scene for so many years has helped solidify my drumming and has shaped me into a well-rounded drummer. Through these experiences, I’m able to share what I’ve learned with my two boys. It’s fun teaching them different aspects in percussion, and I’m looking forward to watching them grow as musicians as they get older.”