Monday, December 23, 2019

Reflecting on a decade

My life has significantly changed in 10 years.

2010 teaching full-time in K-12 in MN, doing some church work, leading a renaissance group and a girls choir, some very hard personnel events and turned 30, got a niece
2011 made some big life decisions and went back to school full time for a Masters in Church Music
2012 surviving as a full-time student, enjoying building relationships with colleagues, and starting earnestly riding a motorcycle
2013 completed work on my second masters degree, made a huge life decision and moved to to Omaha, NE; Started a new job in a new city, bought my 1st Harley, got another niece
2014 accepted my position with the Lincoln Choral Artists, continued to build the program at my full-time church position, launched a fall start with LCA with 2 great concerts! Launched a Handbell festival in Omaha, had my first (and only!) motorcycle accident
2015 continued to have great concerts with LCA including the first GALA fundraiser, met the women who I will be marrying on Sunday, got a national act to headline the handbell festival, went on my first big Harley adventure with my best friend and best man (on Sunday) to Colorado
2016 took over the reigns of NCDA Church Choir festival, spent more and more time with wonderful woman!, did a great bike trip to Mecca (South Dakota), lots of conferences, lots of memories
2017 added Sing Omaha studio teaching to my jobs, accepted position as NCDA Music in Worship R & R chair, more great conferences, more wonderful memories and trips with soon-to-be wife; did another great bike trip with best man and his wife
2018 Got Engaged! Took a great trip to Milwaukee on the motorcycle with great friends!
2019 plans and plans and plans for wedding and honeymoon, solo bike trip, got a 3rd niece! (getting married on Sunday), accepted a job at Doane University, still doing all the jobs and making great music with some many great people.
I can't wait to see what happens in the next decade!

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!
Jason Horner, LCA Artistic Director

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Christmas Time is Here: Chestnuts and celebrations

Our Nov. 3 Concert was a great success! Thank you for supporting the Lincoln Choral Artists and the Lincoln Civic Orchestra. We are looking forward to future collaborations with this group.

So what's next? It's the Holiday Season! I find myself a little less "humbugy" about hearing Christmas music early this year.

I, of course, am always rehearsing and planning Holiday music as early as August. But I try not to listen to music for fun until after Thanksgiving. This year has felt different. I'm not so annoyed when I hear the songs of the season in stores or that radio stations have switched to Christmas music right after Halloween. Some changed at midnight!

For our concert this year, we share the stage again with Bell-issimo. We are presenting familiar and beautiful songs of the season. "Chestnuts" as it were.

So please join us on Dec 12 @ 7:30pm, Holy Trinity Church in Lincoln, for our Holiday Concert:

Facebook Event Page


Thursday, October 24, 2019

Catching up on posts... Alumni Choirs, College Kids, and crazy schedules

So I haven't posted in a couple week. My life has become a crazy train as the looming holiday season is coming. I also had the incredible opportunity to visit my alma mater and sing one more time with René Clausen and the Concordia College Alumni Choir. 
My fiancé had her first taste of October Moorhead snow and the craziness of my wonderful college friends. 
There was incredible music making and celebration. 
Quickly this was followed by more homecoming activities at Doane University and I my first concert with the Collegiate Choir. 
What a blast! Next was a week of catching up and working hard on holiday music planning.
This week got extra crazy as I help out a colleague to cover some more rehearsals. The LCA 40th Anniversary Season Alumni Choir meets tonight for the first time. And I am just blown over by all the amazing singers and players i get to work with each week in my varied jobs. Yesterday alone was Collegiate Choir, Doane Mass Choir, Kids' Christmas Program, Adult Choir, and Brass ensemble. Today is College kids again and the aforementioned alumni. I am blessed to have such great music (and a supportive fiancé).
Stay Strong! Sing On!
May the force be with you!

Thursday, October 3, 2019

So, a choir director gets in front of an orchestra...

Sounds, like a set up for a joke, right?!?!
Singers vs. instrumentalists, and "ne'er the twain shall meet..."
Some people even say singers vs. musicians... ooh, burn!

But I'm not writing today to stir up controversy. So many excellent musicians in community and volunteer groups are both singers and players, vocalists and instrumentalists, soloists and ensemble members. In fact, in my church choir one of the tenors sings in choir, plays in the praise team and brass ensemble, and does his own playing outside of worship.

No today's topic is conducting an orchestra. I am so blessed to have the opportunity this evening to work with and conduct the Lincoln Civic Orchestra. Rob Salistean, the LCO maestro, and myself are doing a director SWAP tonight.

As we prepare for the Brahms, the choir will have an opportunity to rehearse with the LCO conductor tonight. And I am being given a great opportunity to share my thoughts and my arms with the orchestra. I have had a number of opportunities to work with orchestras of many sizes and varying groups of instruments throughout my career. Tonight (and on our concert) I get to stand in front of 80 players, with strings, brass, and percussion. I get test my skills as a conductor. I hope to bring some enlightening ideas to the players on the music we will share. And I get to connect with another great selection of community members.

I know the fruits of our labors tonight will be seen on our concert, November 3rd. I am very excited to step onto the podium and create some wonderful music.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

It's not even October... winter is coming!

Musicians unite as we get ready for (dread) the oncoming storm of the holiday season. In all honesty I have been doing some planning for Christmas and it's related events for several months. I am also in the midst of planning a wedding immediately following the busy Christmas Season. Luckily I have an amazing fiancé who likes planning things too! We are mostly having fun planning this event. On Tuesday night we attended a showing of the new Downton Abbey Movie. It was grand, and we even got some ideas for our event. (I also settled on using my choral arrangement of the theme music on the LCA fundraiser concert in March.)

So with all these big plans, long-term thinking, thematic planning, 40th Anniversary Season celebrations, and several good meetings and emails about LCA you'd think I would feel pretty good about what happen for the holidays. And you would be right!

The Holiday Concert will be fantastic! I can tell that already. I love the direction we as an organization are moving and I think our concert of "Chestnuts" will be a blast! But now, back to Brahms as we continue to prepare for our pre-holiday season (or FALL) concert.

For more info on our entire season, check out:

Thursday, September 19, 2019

Every Breath You Take... rehearsal is a slow process

So I am not quoting a song by the Police (which is not about love, but obsession and stalking!) But it's such a catchy title I had to use it!

Each week in our process to become the choir we want to be, there are steps (and breaths) needed to be taken. Unlike high schools and college choral programs we only get to meet once a week. In our best situations, that means 9 rehearsals per concert. Maybe there is also a "dress" rehearsal, but that is more about logistics and getting a feel for the performance venue. In my mind the "dress" rehearsal is a bit of  a necessary evil, instead of a true focused and meaningful rehearsal.

So back to topic. If we have only 9 rehearsals that's 18 hours of rehearsal. Subtract 15mins each rehearsal for break, announcements, transitions, hopefully some moments of fun and levity. Now we are at 14.5 hours. Let's assume 60 mins (more or less) of music to prepare. Break that down to let's say 8 songs. Somewhere around 7.5 minutes per song (that's not really true, more like 3 minutes, but longer pieces like Brahms on our first concert have 10 minute movements). If evenly divided we might get 1.8 hours of rehearsal on each song, total! That feels like nothing! I ask singers to do some work outside of rehearsal. Let's round up then to 2 hours spread over 9 weeks of rehearsal on each song. As a church musician that's crazy. I have spent 2 hours in one day on some songs and done that for a week in preparation for a 3 mins "performance" on a Sunday morning.

So going back to my blog post title, it was misleading. Yes, sometimes the rehearsal process can feel slow. Sometimes the minutiae we dig into to refine music to make it excellent can feel like an eternity. And in comparison to the fast paced nature of society outside of rehearsal this pace could almost feel grueling. But in reality the rehearsal process for each song is so fast, so incredibly short I am continually appreciative of the work and musicality with which LCA singers continually achieve in performance.

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Throwback Thursday: Videos from the past several seasons and rarities

Today I am sharing a number of youtube videos LCA has produced in the past several seasons. I will also link to a previous blog with some older recordings. In this year of reflection and celebration here is the opportunity to highlight our musical achievements and great music-making!

First up:
City Called Heaven arr. Josephine Poelinitz featuring LCA Soloist, Jessica Bauer
This was performed at the 2014 Holiday Concert in O' Donnell Hall.

I Bought Me A Cat by Aaron Copland
Copland will again be featured on our upcoming concert on Nov. 3

In the Air Tonight (Phil Collins) arr. by Jason Horner
This was an audience and choir favorite on our 2016 Fundraiser Concert at the Royal Grove. 

And finally a link to a previous blog I posted with a performance under the previous name the Lincoln Civic Choir. The chorus was prepared for this performance by John Lauber, who will again be joining the choir to conduct on the fall concert this year. Special thanks to our LCA Historian/ Archivist Kent Remmenga for having the original recording. 

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Brahms Requiem: The Choral Movements

So, this blog title is a little misleading (grad students looking up sources for choral conducting courses!).

The Brahms' Requiem is a complete Choral-Orchestral work. All 7 movements include huge portions for the choir. However, a few movements also include vocal solos.

For our combined effort with the Lincoln Civic Orchestra on Nov. 3 LCA will be preparing all movements without solos (1,2,4,7). Why? Well, many factors play into program planning; leaving time for each ensemble to do some other music, hiring costs of musicians, rehearsal time available to prepare a masterwork, and having a concert that is both well received and timely. I think sometimes we both undersell and oversell our audiences. Hopefully, there is a wide variety of guests at our concerts. Some may have experienced Brahms in its full glory several times with many performing ensembles. Some may be at there first "classical" concert. There are (again, hopefully) families with kids of all ages.

LCA's main job is "to serve the community by providing an excellent experience for our audiences and members." This is our mission statement. It is also something we must work at with every performance. We fulfill the role of servant-leaders through excellent performance and engaging events. We ask the community to come with us in this journey. And by incredible collaborations with other musicians and organizations in Lincoln and the region, like the Lincoln Civic Orchestra, we extend our voices and talents in an act of unique engagement, hoping to show care and justice to a world in need of so much.

Choral music can reach into hearts and open minds to a sense of belonging and community much deeper than might initially be considered. It's so exciting to prepare this music and create what could be considered a "choral movement" of community building. 

Thursday, August 29, 2019

OMLCA! We Return, We Celebrate, We Move Forward

"Tonight's the night!" Tonight we gather together again. We reclaim our sacred space for making music. We work together to create and build community, like this organization has done for 40 years! I am so blessed to work with incredible people and musicians to create something unique. I hope the entirety of the ensemble feels similar. This is a huge season of celebration, of remembering, of collaborating and of moving ahead into the next 40 years!
And we have a new logo and theme for the season.

I am so excited to begin tonight. The beauty of Brahms, Copland, and other incredible musicians of the past will guide us in our celebration season!

Check out the season:

Join us on our social media pages!

Use our season hashtags: #LCA40 #LincolnChoralArtists #LCACelebration40 

Monday, August 19, 2019

Guest Blog Post #2: John Lee...The melodies linger on

I am once again so pleased to offer a guest blog post from an LCA Singer and our Bass Section Leader, John Lee. I hope you enjoy this post! Thank you John.

A couple weeks ago Martha [John's wife] and I went to the Willie Nelson concert, with Alison Krauss, at Pinewood Bowl [in Lincoln, NE]. What a wonderful Saturday evening under the stars! 
Alison led off with her beautiful voice, singing “River in the Rain,” which we sang a few years ago when we did the music of Roger Miller’s “Big River.” She continued with a number of songs she has written, such as “Down to the River to Pray” and “I’ll Fly Away” from “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” and at least one of Willie’s songs, “Angel Flying Too Close to the Ground.”  

Then Willie and his band came out and performed for more than an hour of this own songs, leading off with “Whiskey River” and on through “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” with shout-outs to pals Merle Haggard ("Pancho and Lefty”) and Johnny Cash (“Folsom Prison Blues”). Willie was showing some difficulty breathing, but inviting the audience to sing along on familiar hits like “On the Road Again” and “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys” let him rest his voice a bit. 
What struck me most was that Willie is still singing – and packing the house – at the age of 86! With his “little sister” (age 88) on the piano! That tells me I still have a few years that I can enjoy singing with the Lincoln Choral Artists – and elsewhere. No, I’ve no aspirations to do Pinewood Bowl – unless it’s with LCA! But in my 30 years or so singing with Lincoln Choral Artists I’ve sung at the Lied Center and Lincoln Center (New York) and Holland Center (Omaha) and many other venues – even the Royal Grove! I’ve told this choir before about my decision, as a junior in high school, to give up trying to play football and concentrate on music. I never would have gotten to New York playing football! 

Music is something you can continue to do your whole life. I’m looking forward to starting the next LCA season! 

John Lee

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

It's been too long...

Hi All, Sorry for the lack of posts in recent weeks. I have been visiting family, going to conferences, and enjoying some down time before the busyness of fall is open us. Today I have been thinking about how important our role as musicians/ artists is in the current politics of the world. Sharing our voice in as many settings as possible can build coalitions of trust instead of tearing down hope and creating fear. I try hard not to be political on this blog. (So much so, I have considered writing a seperate blog under a pseudonym just to vent my frustrations and fears.) Our voice for singing and for sharing hope and joy continues to come back to me as more important than being right about the multiple crisis our country and world are in. I want us to strive as citizens of wherever we come from to be better people. To listen more, to hate less, to be smart about our words, and to lift up those in need.

I can't wait to get back into rehearsals with the Lincoln Choral Artists as we prepare for some amazing music in celebration of 40 years of community building. But I'm even more excited to share that joy and hope with the world.

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Guest Blog Post #1: Nick Vacarro

Today's blog was written by LCA singer Nick Vaccaro. I am so thankful for his contribution to the organization as a singer, supporter, and now blog poster! Jason Horner, LCA Artistic Director

Nick Vaccaro, Tuesday, June 11, 2019

Last September I returned to choral singing after about a break of about 20 years. I feel fortunate to have found (thanks to member Dorothy Ramsey)  the Lincoln Choral Artists as a vehicle for doing that.

One of the main reasons that I’ve felt an immediate connection to  LCA is the very broad and eclectic repertoire that we’ve explored. Over the past year, we’ve sung music ranging from Thomas Tallis and Heinrich Isaac to James Taylor and Pat Benatar.   I haven’t loved everything that we’ve sung -  but I’ve liked most of it, loved a lot of it, and learned from all of it.

So, why do I think that performing such a wide range of music is a good thing?
 It isn’t always a good thing. Juxtaposing or combining different styles of musical expression can sometimes produce strange results, and musicians sometimes struggle to do justice to music that falls outside their comfort zone.
All the same, I’ve found that an openness to stretching or crossing musical boundaries has made my musical life a lot richer -  both as a performer and a listener.

Here’s one example. In 2007, I finished graduate school and came to Nebraska. Before I’d made much in the way of social connections here,   I found myself with a lot of alone time when not working.  I also had a melodica (an instrument I’d started playing the previous year), and had recently come across a number of interesting musical performances on a new website called YouTube. So, I decided to pass some time by recording MIDI-accompanied renditions of whatever music that I thought I could make sound decent on the melodica. And that eventually turned out to be… a lot of different things, drawn from a range of musical genres even broader than the programming for LCA’s last season.

The videos are still up on YouTube – all in vintage 240 pixels, but with sound quality good enough that I can go back and watch them fondly from time to time.

Teaching myself to play every one of those (very different) songs was a challenge and a thrill in its own way. The feeling of playing an Aretha Franklin favorite is different from the feeling of playing a Robert Schumann favorite; not better or worse, but different in a way that’s worth experiencing.

LCA seems like a great place to pursue more of that sort of exploration. I look forward to seeing where we’ll go next.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Refreshment, relaxation (maybe), and just a changed in schedule

I love my job with the Lincoln Choral Artists. I love the music we make, the community we build, and the joy we share in singing together. But I am also happy to be in a moment of repose from the the weekly schedule of rehearsal and upcoming performances.

I have spent sometime this week discussing with colleagues, singers, and LCA leadership what is coming soon. But I have also been reflecting on my own need to relax/ refresh in this period of down-time. I don't really know if relax is the right word. That's not really something in my wheel house. But my fiancé Hillary and I went to a baseball game last night. I'm planning a solo motorcycle trip to western Nebraska in mid-June. And Hill and I will make a quick trip up Minnesota to celebrate babies and weddings with family.

But I think the biggest thing that helps me wrap up and move into this season of reflection is simply the change in schedule. Not so many evening rehearsals, not so many work and performance demands, and time to engage my thoughts and hopes for the future. I am exciting about the return of the new season with Lincoln Choral Artists. I am also going to enjoy my time now as I prepare for that return.

Thursday, May 30, 2019

Guest Blogging: singers and supporters

Hey friends! As I write this LCA is finishing up our final fundraising event for the 2019/2020 season with "Give to Lincoln Day." If you would like to contribute please check out our link:

Our singers are our biggest supporters. This summer I will be giving them a voice on this blog to talk really on any subject they would like. I hope this gives you a wider understanding of our incredible group of people who come together to sing and build community.

Please watch for these special blog posts and reach out to us over the summer at all of our social media outlets.

We can be found on FACEBOOK at and our FACEBOOK group

Lincoln Choral Artists Singer, Supporters, and Friends

Our Twitter handle is @LNKNChoir

Our Instagram feed is lnknchoir

Check out a bunch of great videos on our YOUTUBE feed:

Thursday, May 23, 2019

What's Happening for the 2019/2020 Season? We celebrate 40 years!

First of all, I must say thank you to all of you that attended (and participated) in our spring concert last Sunday. The music was beautiful!

One thing that got announced at our concert is some official information about our 40th Anniversary Season 2019-2020.
Our Fall Concert begins with a collaboration with the Lincoln Civic Orchestra who we share our rehearsal evenings with on Thursdays at Nebraska Wesleyan University. We will also be joined by previous Lincoln Choral Artists Artistic Directors, William Wyman and Jon Lauber. They will both have chance to once again lead the choir and orchestra in some wonderful music. We are also invited LCA Alumni singers to participate in this concert. So watch for more details to participate.

Our Holiday Concert will be filled with Chestnuts and Favorites and we will share the stage with Bellissimo, Lincoln's Premier Handbell Ensemble,  as they share secular Holiday tunes.

For our Fundraiser Concert we will be focused on music from the Silver Screen, continuing our theme from this year entitled, The Show Must Go On! We hope to have some very special guests from Lincoln and even from across the country. I can't wait to be able to share more about the possibilities for this great event! #SWmusic #LOTRmusic #everybodylovesjohnwilliams

Our final concert will conclude our season with a special commissioned piece from Lincoln composer, Jean Henderson to celebrate our 40 years of music-making. We will be collaborating with the Lincoln Boys' Choir, and we will present music that looks ahead to our next 40 years.

Stay tuned for some other incredible performances and events related to our celebration season!