Thursday, September 22, 2016

Music on Our Fall Concert p. 3: Three Giants

For part 3 of this blog topic, Music on Our Fall Concert, I am talking about 3 giants in the choral world; F. Melius Christiansen, Dale Warland, and John Rutter.

 We are performing Christiansen's "Lamb of God." F. Melius was the founder and conductor of the St. Olaf College Choir. He is credited with starting the Lutheran Choral Tradition in the United States. His sons, Olaf and Paul J, went on to serve as conductors at St. Olaf and Concordia (my alma mater) respectively. Students of this family have gone on to serve as conductors in high schools, colleges, and professional organizations across the country and the world. The approach and practices in tone, color, balance, and repertoire can be seen throughout the choral world. Few individuals have had as much influence over the choral arts as F. Melius Christiansen.

Coming out of the Lutheran Tradition, but primarily focused on the professional choral scene, is Dale Warland. We will be performing "To a Young Child" which was commissioned by Clarion Chamber Chorale in Omaha and is dedicated to the memory of the Americans who died in the Challenger Shuttle Mission, on January 28, 1986. Dale says about the piece "I read an inspiring and thoughtful response to the Challenger Tragedy that qouted from Gerald Manley Hopkins' 'Spring and Fall' (1880). The poets words spoke immediately to me. Although I hadn't intended to write a work that addressed such a serious theme, musical ideas flooded my mind and I sketched the entire setting in one sitting."

Reaching across the pond, John Rutter has been a seminal master composer in the choral field for over 40 years. He deftly writes gorgeous and memorable melodic lines and deeply understands the Anglican choral tradition. His "pop" music sensibility in rhythm and phrase has appealed to choir in US and across the globe. We are performing "Look at the World" and will feature the Sacred Arts Home School Choir and children's voices with this piece.

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