Hastings High School choir director honored with surprise concert

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Hastings High School choir Director Lin Warren wipes away a tear at a special surprise concert held in his honor.

Lin Warren spent the past three decades pouring his soul into his love of vocal music.

A love he shared with thousands of students--since 1984--at Hastings High School.

In 1988 Warren received the Outstanding Young Choral Director Award from the Minnesota Chapter of American Choral Directors Association, and in 1989 was selected as “Teacher of the Year.”

In 2009, he was selected “Employee of the Year” for the Hastings Public School System and in 2014 received the Minnesota Choral Director of the Year, also from the Minnesota Chapter of American Choral Directors Association.

Over the course of his 33 years at Hastings High School Warren took his choirs to state, regional and national conventions and most recently served as the Facilities and Local Arrangements Chair for the National ACDA Conference held in Minneapolis in March 2017.

His accomplishments reflect only a portion of why Sunday afternoon at least 700 of his current and former students filled the high school’s auditorium to celebrate his latest milestone--Warren’s upcoming retirement.

“So much of what I learned about really how to be a man came through the arts and came through Mr. Warren,” Minnesota Gopher, Super Bowl Champion and former Colts tight end Ben Utecht said. “I had to juggle playing football, hockey and track, alongside being a part of five choirs. He was more of a coach for me than anything else."

Also among those who sung Warren’s praises was Hastings City Council member Laurie Braucks, who officially declared May 24 "Lin Warren Day." The declaration is in tune with a trend students who revered Warren began on social media recently by sharing photos of Warren hard at work--and play--coining the term “Warren Wednesdays.”

“I can’t say thank you enough,” Mr. Warren said.

Warren is passing the baton to his son Lukas, who honored him with a beautiful gift–a poem by Rumi, originally composed by Ralph M. Johnson--commissioned just for Warren--titled "Where Everything is Music."

The Alumni Choir–comprised of 200 of Warren’s current and former students— surprised him with the commissioned piece at the end of the program.

“What better way to honor a vocal music legend than through voice and through song?” Hastings High School principal Mike Johnson, whose children were also Warren’s students, said. “Having his son conduct the premier of it at his retirement party was incredibly meaningful and inspiring."

The commissioned piece embodies Mr. Warren’s life-long love of the craft and marks a milestone conducted in harmony with the inspiration only he could impart.

“It really stands for everything I’ve always believed my whole life,” Warren said with tears in his eyes. “I’m a lucky man. When you love everyday of what you do, work, play, how could you not be happy?”

Even in retirement Mr. Warren plans to stay busy.

Following the 2016-'17 school year he plans to host Gateway Music Tours and work in real estate on his own schedule.