Source Song Festival’s 5th Annual SongSLAM! team Senko/Wilson/Holm-Johansen places 3rd!

It was such an exciting night to be part of Source Song Festival’s 5th Annual SongSLAM! Local poet Kathleen Cassen Mickelson had written such a colorful poem “Fall Farmers Market”, one in which all three of us connected with and related to, from the start! Here is the poem – enjoy! (The actual composition by Scott Senko took on the title of “The Many Colors of Love”).

Melissa Holm-Johansen, soprano / Bryon Wilson, piano / Scott Senko, composer

Fall Farmers Market
by Kathleen Casssen Mickelson

Splotches of red, green, purple, orange and yellow
Monet together until I put my glasses on,
grocery list in hand, morning air crisp, clear.
Farm trucks form two parallel lines,
back ends facing each other,
tables straining beneath this morning’s harvest.
I can’t resist the warty pumpkins
even though Halloween is over a month away.
Nor can I pass up perfect purple eggplant,
cherry tomatoes of red and gold,
shiny orange peppers,
earthy inky beets with bits of dirt
still stuck to their skins.
I dream of baba ghanousj, vegetable kebabs,
sheet pans of roasted goodness.
In this moment, pandemics seem far away,
cruelty impossible in the face of such abundance.
All I want is to cook for everyone,
show them the many colors of love.

Grieg: Songs From The Heart

Melissa Holm-Johansen, Soprano

Stephen Swanson, Piano


Tracks and full album are available for preview and purchase on Apple Music:…/songs-from-the-heart/1541274660

Physical CDs are available here:

This all started with an idea from my friend and Grieg scholar Bill Halverson, to record Grieg in English. The recording took place in August. During COVID. Under challenging space conditions and frankly under much stress not knowing if we even would have a venue to record this music in, so to make our deadline. But we did. Here you have 25 of Edvard Grieg’s beloved songs. I am so overwhelmingly grateful for and humbled by the stunning work by my friend and collaborator Steve Swanson! For the incredible star production team of Matthew Culloton (producer) and John Scherf (sound engineer) and of course, the tireless work resulting in these beautiful new English “gjendiktninger” by Dr. Bill Halverson. Thank you to Norway House & Edvard Grieg Society for your support and trust. And a special thank you to Ethan Bjelland for the beautiful booklet cover and getting this work online!I’m grateful I can return to singing these timeless songs that continue to inspire, haunt and transport me time and time again.

To view the concert performance:

Tracks and full album are available for preview and purchase on Apple Music:…/songs-from-the-heart/1541274660
Physical CDs are available here:

Voice lessons with Melissa

I have room for a few more students as we head into winter quarter! As always, I am offering a free introductory lesson to new students.

The only thing better than singing is more singing.

– Ella Fitzgerald

Life is better when you sing.  It’s been proven to

  • increase lung capacity
  • reduce anxiety
  • increase longevity!

I can help you find your unique, natural and free sound. Whether you want to sing classical, music theatre, jazz or pop, I have the knowledge and training to assist you in finding your true vocal self. I work with recreational singers, emerging artists, and working professionals.  My clients are all ages, from “young belters” all the way to mature voices.  All lessons are currently offered via the zoom platform.

I would love to chat with you if you have any questions for me. Please visit the contact page to reach out.

— Melissa

Singing During a Pandemic

I am wondering how you are all doing. Are you singing? Practicing at all? Does it feel easy? Or good? Or not? Some days do and some days don’t, right? That’s my general sentiment right now. There is perhaps nothing anyone can say to make you feel better. But for what it’s worth, what helps me to remember is the following quote by the Greek philosopher Heraclitus: “There is nothing permanent except change.”

Hi all. Happy Autumn!

This is my favorite season by far. The crisp days, cooler temperatures, the colors changing, sweaters, boots and and else all that comes with it. It’s also a time when I gear up for competitions and festivals with my voice studio. If you like singing for valuable feedback and insights given by reputable voice professionals in the field of classical song and music theater, then this might be something for you? Anyway, competitive singing isn’t for everyone. And it’s certainly not the “means to an end”. However, preparing for a competition gives you a determined concrete goal to strive toward. And that can never hurt. If it doesn’t lead to that semi final or final round, so be it. What it hopefully leads to thought is more determination. More motivation and strive. And the sense of accomplishment. That is a necessary for all of us.

If you don’t feel like it… sing anyway!

As I strap on my skis and take off down the path outside my apartment I’m reminded of how beautiful and magical this time of year can be, even though the Minnesota winter also comes with its share of treacherous driving, slick roads, lots and lots of snow and bitter cold. If I can remember to see the beauty in it, I seem to be able to cope with it better. I am sure that makes sense to all of you, and that the majority of you can agree with this notion.

My relationship to music and singing is similar in some respect. Some days it’s very hard to find the beauty and significance in what we do as singers…the saying “Some Days When You Don’t Feel Like Singing- Sing Anyway!”, might resonate with you? I love that quote. And it sums up completely how I feel sometimes. And more so, this time of year.

I wish you all a lovely rest of your February and a beautiful start to spring 2019!

Happy December busy people!

Here are some gigs I have lined up for late December. I hope you can make a performance! 🎶❄️

I’m biased, but I always favor “Christmas at The House Of Hope”. It’s always filled with lovely music…beautiful lessons & carols, gorgeous orchestral arrangements by Aaron David Miller played by the Bach Chamber Players Of Saint Paul and lots of classical choral favorites sung by the Motet Choir led by Matthew Culloton.

1. Christmas at The House Of Hope

The House Of Hope, Saint Paul, MN

Monday December 24, 2018 / 7:30 PM & 10:00 PM

Vivaldi; Gloria (10 PM service only!)

Ferko: A Festival Of Carols

Soprano soloist (Vivaldi)

2. Traditional Tableaux Service

The House Of Hope Presbyterian Church, Saint Paul, MN

Saturday December 22, 2018 / 5:30 PM

Soprano soloist (Silent Night)

3. The Norwegian Memorial Church

Traditional Candlelight Service / Høytids Gudstjeneste

(This Service is held in Norwegian)

December 24, 2018 / 4 PM

Soprano soloist

4. Handel’s Messiah with The Singers & The Saint Paul chamber orchestra

December 20 & 21 The Basilica Of Saint Mary / 8 PM

December 22 & 23 Ordway Music Theater / 8 PM & 2 PM

Tickets might be sold out! Check

Happy September folks!

Thanks for checking out my website! Hope you’re enjoying fall and the changing of seasons 🍁🍂🌞

Here are a few gigs I have lined up for what looks like a busy October:

1. Fauré: Requiem, 1887-1890 (soprano soloist)

Prior Lake High School Choir Program

Shepherd of the Lake

3611 Berens Rd NW

Prior Lake MN

Monday October 15 / 7 P.M.

2. Handel: Foundling Hospital Anthem, 1749/1753 (soprano soloist)

Vespers with Hymnus

Gethsemane Lutheran Church Of Hopkins

715 Minnetonka Mills Rd

Hopkins MN

Sunday October 28 / 4 P.M.