The Arts and Culture Commission of the City of Northfield has named Dr. Paul Niemisto as the 2013 recipient of its Living Treasure Award. 

The award annually honors a Northfield area resident who makes an outstanding and lasting contribution to the city’s identity and quality of life through and behalf of arts and culture.

Niemisto founded the Cannon Valley Regional Orchestra and has served as its conductor for 34 years. The CVRO offers opportunity both to area musicians and to area audiences the opportunity to classical music.

He also founded, directs and performs with his own Finnish brass septet and the Northfield Trombones. As well, he conceived and organizes the International Vintage Band Festival which during the summers of 2006 and 2010 brought more than 25 brass bands from Europe and across the United States to Northfield, and offering more than a hundred free performances in parks and halls around town.  A third Festival is scheduled for 2013. 

“Tuba Christmas,” another of Paul’s endeavors which he initiated 15 years ago, brings hundreds of tuba and euphonium players of all ages flocking to St. Olaf from around the state and the Midwest each year to play Christmas Carols in Buntrock Commons. The whole communituy is invited to listen to this exuberant holiday concert, which occurs during St. Olaf’s annual Christmas Festival.

With a doctorate in Music Education from the Universiitiy of Minnesota, Niemisto currently holds the position of Associate Professor of Music at St. Olaf College, where he specializes in the teaching and performance of low brass instruments. His influence nationally and internationally has encompassed research and writing, working as a clinician and soloist at music festivals, and leading student volunteers in efforts at Lutheran congregations in Russia.

In nominating Niemisto, Jane Rinehart, Heather Scott and Joan Behr affirm that “three qualities of Paul’s contributions exemplify his genius in reaching out to the whole community: inclusiveness, collaboration and enrichment.”

In announcing Niemisto at this years Living Treasure Award recipient, Arts and Culture Commission Chairperson Philip Spensley said Niemisto is indeed a living treasure.

"Because of Paul Niemisto, Northfield is a better place,” he said. “The community is richer for his contributions and we’re fortunate and grateful to have him in our midst, and we are delighted to designate him as a living treasure.”

Throughout the next year, Niemisto will serve as an ambassador for the arts in Northfield, as well as a continuing his other duties and activities.

A community celebration honoring the award recipient will be held early in the new year.  Watch the Northfield News for an announcement.  The award is sponsored by the News.

Previously named as Northfield Living Treasures have been Carleton Professor, artist and renowned sculptor, Ray Jacobson, for 2011; NAG theatre founder, actress and theatre director, Myrna Johnson, for 2011; and Northfield Children’s Choir founder, long time director, and music educator, Cora Scholz, for 2012.