Thursday, December 13, 2018

We Are Not Streambait Pop: Live Choral Music as an antidote to the monotony of streaming

I listen to a plethora of podcasts including "If Then" from Slate. If/Then This is a technology show, but often is more about culture and politics. It always relates things from the tech world to other events in the news and culture. There is segment called "don't close my tab" where they discuss a particularly interesting item or article from the web.

Today's episode featured a discussion on a post called "Streambait Pop." Basically, what it says is that the homogenization of streamed music on Spotify is a real thing. streambait-pop-pelly

From my perspective this is NOT news. Pop music from any source, weather it be radio, MTV (in the 90s), actual record stores like Virgin (gone!), or even that time when we were all sharing illegal downloads in zip files, always has a stench of homogenization.

That's kinda the point. It's the most popular to the most people. It is going to be the lowest common denominator in music . It's not going to challenge or necessarily inspire you. It is not the same as seeing the band live! I've got an antidote.
Support Choral Music in your community!!

Guess what? You still might hear your favorite pop song. You will definitely hear something you don't know or at least a performance of a song by someone you have never heard do it quite that way.

Tonight, LCA has a concert where we are doing just this. We are challenging the holiday concert goer. We are stretching the boundary of what a holiday concert can be. Not with flashy lights and pyro. (Even thought that's pretty cool, thanks Chip!) Not with simply singing the most popular Christmas and holiday songs. But by offering beautiful live music in a gorgeous space with two great choirs and a great organist. You won't find this concert on Spotify or Apple Music. You might find the songs. But you won't experience sharing the music with friends or family.
Come tonight! See and Hear! 

The Lincoln Choral Artists present
A Renaissance Christmas of Hope and Expectation
with Dulces Voces

Thursday, December 13, 2018
7:30 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
2110 Sheridan Blvd

Celebrate the hope of the season with a Renaissance Christmas concert featuring a program to uplift throughout the ages. Featuring special guest a cappella choir Dulces Voces and organist John Ross.


Thursday, December 6, 2018

E'en So Lord Jesus Quickly Come - A Legacy Out of Pain

In 1953, Paul Manz and his wife Ruth, were sitting bedside with their son. He was critically ill. The couple was convinced the child's life was ending and they prayed "Lord,  Jesus Quickly Come." Thankfully their son survived. But during the process Paul began composing what would be come to be his most famous composition. Basing the text on Revelation 22:5, Ruth created the lyrics. Paul set the text for acappella choir and history was made. It has become a enduring classic for many choirs from the St. Olaf Choir, The Concordia Choir, and many great educational institutions to Chanticleer, the Washington Master Chorale, and the Kansas City Chorale. Its has enjoyed international success in concerts throughout the world. And it is they way I start every Advent Season (Black Friday I start listening to Christmas Music).

Paul "was Cantor Emeritus at the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Saint Luke, Chicago, Illinois; as well as Cantor Emeritus of Mount Olive Lutheran Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the director of the newly established Paul Manz Institute of Church Music, and was Professor Emeritus of Church Music at Christ Seminary Seminex at the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago." - wikipedia,  

Aside from "E'en So," Manz was most famous for his celebrated hymn festivals. Instead of playing traditional organ recitals, Manz would generally lead a "festival" of hymns from the organ, in which he introduced each hymn with one of his famously creative organ improvisations based on the hymn tune in question. The congregation would then sing the hymn with his accompaniment. Sometimes he would play an improvisation between each sung stanza, as with his well-known variations on the tune, St. Anne, sung to the Isaac Watts text "Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past" with which he would traditionally end each festival. Many volumes of these improvisations have been written out and published and are played by church organists throughout the world."  

- wikipedia, 

I am very excited to present this choral classic at our concert next Thursday. 

A Renaissance Christmas of Hope and Expectation
with Dulces Voces

Thursday, December 13, 2018
7:30 pm
Westminster Presbyterian Church
2110 Sheridan Blvd

Celebrate the hope of the season with a Renaissance Christmas concert featuring a program to uplift throughout the ages. Featuring special guest a cappella choir Dulces Voces and organist John Ross.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Getting Ready for 40!

With one concert under our belt, and a great concert it was, the LCA Board of Directors and myself are earnestly looking towards the future.

I am constantly balancing in my head the short term goals and tasks, season long ideas and concerts, and the longer term goals and aspirations for the Choir.

Next year LCA celebrates 40 seasons! (and we don't look a day over 29 😛)

It is very exciting! And though I am not a liberty to reveal much information I am excited to share a little of my own thoughts on what this means for the organization.

40 years is longer than the lifespan of about 1/3 of our singers. 40 years is just a little longer than the tenure of some of our longest serving singers. 40 years in the Lincoln Community has seen three conductors, a name change, and countless positive events and excellent concerts. (Actually our Historian, Kent Remmenga, would know how many concerts!)  We recently updated our website and there is some wonderful information about our history.

This is my fourth season with the ensemble. Each year I have seen and heard the choir grow and change. Each year I have grown and changed. I know that is something that will continue as we move ahead.

There are some fun and exciting things happening next season. I can't wait to tell you about them.

But also we are currently engaged in an incredible 39th season! Please make it a priority to see us in concert, support us as a member of the music and arts community in Lincoln and Nebraska, and reach out to us via social media. Your engagement and connection keeps us going. We can only offer great music and concert experiences through your support.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Organized Chaos: Concerts, planning, community

On Saturday we had a great concert! It was a day filled with rehearsal, making new friends and partners in music, and ORGANIZED CHAOS! With over 100 participants in the concert there is always a lot to make happen. With tons and tons of support from LCA leadership, singers, and partnering organization Sing Omaha, we had a successful day. There was beautiful music, a supportive audience, and a great time had be all (I hope!).

As we move forward into the holiday season and a concert on December 13 we again have some chaos as new music is handed out, old music collected, new seating arrangements, and new plans with a new venue and collaborations with old friends, Dulches Voces.

The life of a community choir (or any community organization I bet) has these ebbs and flows of chaos as a season or event is planned and executed. I am grateful for having so many supportive members of the choir and friends of the choir to help make these times of chaos as smooth as possible.

Thursday, October 18, 2018

What' Coming Up On the Concert? October 27, 2018, Holy Trinity Church, Lincoln, 3pm

Alright, you may be wondering, why is PAT BENATAR in this post? The LCA Fall Concert is titled, "Love is a Battlefield." LCA is exploring the way gender has and does play a role in relationships, romantically, socially, personally, spiritually. Helping LCA in the journey are the Sing Omaha Boys' and Girls' Choirs. This idea sprang up out of our Season Theme,  Modus Emotus: Exploring Human Emotion.

Pat Benatar's "angsty" love/ heartbreak 80s Rock Anthem touches on a few topics; youth, rejection, vigilance. Besides these emotions and concepts around love, LCA and Sing Omaha explore other relationship ideas.

In Ysaye M. Barnwell's "Wanting Memories" LCA deals with ideas of being comforted and wanting lost love and having regrets in the harsh reality of life. The Sing Omaha Boys reflect on the joy of love, so much love that you must sing. The Girls consider the silliness of a crush and depth of sorrow when someone you care about dies. LCA Women with the girls, reflect on the power of loving yourself for who you are inside, the strength you carry everyday. And the concert ends with the showstopper, "When Love Takes Over, " sharing the joy and excitement of love.

The choirs will "battle" it out throughout the concert and in the end join together to celebrate. Please come and join these great choirs on October 27th, 3pm at the Church of the Holy Trinity in Lincoln, NE.

Please visit our Facebook event page for more info and purchase tickets online.

Facebook Event Page


Thursday, October 4, 2018

Reflections on Collaborative Artistic Endeavors, Grants, and What Drives the wider community to our concerts

First of all I need to say, I have no answers here on any of the topics I listed in this blog title. Also each of those topics could be a separate blog post. In fact, each could be its own entire blog topic.

In the past I have mused about working collaboratively with other organizations. No concert ever happens in a vacuum. We are always working with a venue and its personnel, we often have guest musicians on our concert like our upcoming concert with Sing Omaha. There are also other connections and things that need to be weaved into the construction of a concert, a season, and a culture of a choir.

In my role, I straddle multiple endeavors to prepare for a concert. I view my primary job as rehearsing and preparing the choir to to their very best performance. But with that comes promoting the concert so there is a great audience to support the work and music of the singers. Behind that is a board of leadership who helps shape the structure of the concerts and the season, and brings in money like grants. Receiving any kind of funding requires expertise beyond my abilities. But being able to contribute to that effort is necessary.

Figuring out what will excite a community to support any given concert is difficult. Culture show us that music needs to be ever changing and growing. The experience of the concert needs to incorporate more than just watching a choir sing.

But the biggest factor in this endeavor is the joy and support of the singers. If I do everything I can do in my position and they work hard, do a lot of self promoting and inviting, it seems we can usually pull off this unique artistic mode of expression.

Here are some links to previous musings on related topics form this blog.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

My other job (guest blogging my own blog)

I am blessed to work as a full-time church musician at St. Thomas Lutheran in Omaha, NE. I also serve the Nebraska Choral Director's Association as Repertoire & Resources Chair for Music in Worship. As an R&R Chair I connect with other Church Choral and Worship Leaders throughout the state as often as I can, choose and present music at conferences that I hope is beneficial and useful to church musicians, and I also write a blog. Below is the blog I created for Short Notes, the monthly digital newsletter sent out by NCDA. I hope you enjoy it reading it.

Fill the house with singing and your hearts with praise! Psalm 147
I am finishing up some score selection for my choir today. I am constantly struck by how the Holy Spirit moves to help me find exactly what the Lord needs in worship for each week. I don’t say this without knowing that there will be work, and sweat, but hopefully no blood, involved in getting these pieces up and ready.
Church choirs go through so much repertoire. I recently counted (because I needed to make some selections). My choir will sing over 40 unique pieces of literature between September and May. Some of this is the weekly worship need, some for festivals, and some for special events and services. But I need to find what music will call to the moment. I am grateful for years of experience, colleagues and friends I can ask for ideas, and a great supportive congregation who loves music.
With these blessings I shouldn’t really pull my hair out (or more honestly, get a bunch of gray) over repertoire planning. But by the end of July every year my internal alarm starts ringing strong…
“Remember all those great ideas you had, months ago, about getting ahead, about selecting great music by July 1?!? It didn’t happen, AGAIN!”
In reality, the big pieces – the challenging music, that has been in my ears, on my brain, and in my heart for months. This year it includes Benjamin Britten’s Ceremony of Carols with harp! But also the usual great arrangements by John Purifoy and Jean Berger, John Ferguson and John the Revelator (not actually arranged by John the Revelator! That’s a Caldwell and Ivory arrangement, I think.)
But no matter what, I am pushed to find great things not just ‘cause I need to challenge myself, though that’s a good reason. Not just ‘cause my choir is bored with our usual selection, really they’re not. Not just ‘cause the Pastor wants an “upbeat” anthem, a term I loathe (plus my Pastor doesn’t use that language). But because this is music for worship. Its place is to support the praise and thanksgiving of a loving and caring God, who, through us, works with those who are in need, those who hunger, those who are heavy laden down with burdens and hurt, and hopes, and fears.
We are coming before the creator of the universe to “Speak, O Lord” through us. We are to speak so that “truth prevail[s] over unbelief.” As you embark on the journey of repertoire selection, as you begin to engage with your singers, and your church lifts up its song in praise, take the time to choose the best, most meaningful pieces. It is what you are called to do in the church and in the world.
“Speak, O Lord” Keith Getty and Stuart Townsend, arranged by John Ferguson, MorningStar Music Publishers, 2005 and 2007.

Music in Worship – R & R Blog post – NCDA – September 2018
Jason M. Horner, M. Mus.; MSM, B.A. Mus.Ed.
Director of Music Ministries, St. Thomas Lutheran Church, Omaha, NE
Artistic Director, Lincoln Choral Artists, Lincoln, NE

Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Having (more) fun at Choir rehearsal!

I sincerely hope that at every rehearsal singers enjoy, and even have fun, singing. So many people say that music lifts their soul and they feel better after having made music with others. We also work hard, trying to remove imperfection; trying to make music emotively and honestly. With this work can sometimes come a very serious attitude. This can be useful. We must always act professionally, treat each other with kindness, and be aware of each other in rehearsal. But that doesn't mean we can't have fun too! Here are some things we are doing this season to get to know each other, learn to care more about each other, and have FUN!

September 13 Fall Concert Rehearsal, ALMA MATER or Favorite Team Gear Day!


October 11 Fall Concert Rehearsal, Funny Hat, Tie, or scarf night! 

October 25 Fall Concert "Love is a Battlefield" Rehearsal, “Woo Your Lover” Night – we perform music for each other!

November 15 Holiday Concert Rehearsal, Comfort Food Night- Bring something to share during the break!

November 30, Holiday Concert Rehearsal, Ugly Christmas Sweater or Red and Green night!

February 14, Big Show Rehearsal, HAPPY VALENTINE’S DAYBring some food to share!

March 14, Spring Concert Rehearsal  – Wear you favorite Choral or Music Gear!

April 4, Spring Concert Rehearsal – Share a Bite Night! Bring a snack to share!

Tuesday, September 4, 2018

New Season, New Friends, New Music

We are back! That's right, we have officially started the 2018-2019 Season here at Lincoln Choral Artists. I will try to put new blog content up every week. Here are some great things that have already begun.

We launched the Season Theme and Concert Themes a few weeks ago!

OCT 27
Love Is A Battlefield ConcertOur first concert of the 2018-19 is on October 27, 3pm at Holy Trinity Episcopal Church in Lincoln. We will be joined by the Sing Omaha Girls' and Boys' Choirs and their directors, Jen Hill and Mark Harman. This concert will feature folk songs, pop and gospel music, as well as some choral greats as we sing about the difficulties of relationships and the joys of our varied identities! Exploring the changing and progressing notions of gender and genders in the arts and society through music. An uplifting program of music for boys’, girls’, women’s and men’s as well as combined ensembles celebrating gender diversity.

DEC 13
A Renaissance Christmas of Hope and Expectation
Thursday, December 13 at 7:30 PM – 9:15 PM
This Holiday Concert will feature guest musicians along with the Lincoln Choral Artists in performing music of and inspired by the renaissance focusing on Seasonal Music at the gorgeous Westminster Church in Lincoln. Come and Enjoy beautiful music and atmosphere as you enjoy the holiday spirit and season. Celebrate the hope of the season with a Renaissance Christmas concert featuring a program to uplift throughout theages. Featuring special guest a cappella choir Dulces Voces and organist Dan Ahlin.
Lincoln Westminster Presbyterian Church2110 Sheridan Blvd, Lincoln, Nebraska 68502

The Big Show: Joy and Inspiration
Sunday, March 3, 2019 at 12 AM – 11:59 PM
LCA’s annual special fundraising event is an evening ofjoy and inspiration with a program taken from the best ofmusical theatre from the past three decades. Support themission of LCA and enjoy a dynamic night of performancesfrom the ensemble plus special guests. Cash bar andappetizers included.
The Royal Grove340 West Cornhusker Highway, Lincoln, Nebraska 68521

MAY 19
Love and Longing
Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 4 PM – 6 PM
A program exploring romantic love featuring stringorchestra and harp as well as guest soloist RebeccaShane.
First United Methodist Church of Lincoln, Nebraska2723 N 50th St, Lincoln, Nebraska 68504

Last Thursday we invited some new friends to sing in the Choir. We are very excited to get to know these individuals and make music with them. We are still taking auditions for this season. Please check out

I am also very excited for the fantastic new music we will be featuring on all of our concerts. In future blogs I will be breaking down each concert and talk about the significance of each piece, our guest music ensembles, and how the themes and ideas of Human Emotion move us and our world. 

Thursday, April 19, 2018

Thursday Throwback...but not too far!

Hi everybody! Today is Throwback Thursday on many radio stations across the country. Well, I'm going to throw you back about six weeks to our last Concert Fundraiser at the Royal Grove in Lincoln.

Thanks to all of you who supported us and congratulations to all the musicians on their incredible work. Below is our opening song from A Choral Continuum: Prospective, Music that envisions the future moving from Darkness to Light. I hope you enjoy "In the Air Tonight" featuring soloists Curt Butler, Wendy Morrissey, Wayne Janssen, and Jan Lipovsky.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Spirit of Collaboration, Celebrating 100 years of Bernstein, and "InChoir" legacy event

Wow! the 38th season of the LCA is wrapping up quickly! Tonight is our "Dress rehearsal" at First Plymouth Church with the Nebraska Brass Band and First Plymouth Choir. Next week is our annual "InChoir" event, and April 29 is our final concert!

There is a true spirit of collaboration as I work with Glenn Greet from NEBB and Tom Trenney from First Plymouth Church. The plans for the Lincoln Festival of Music started nearly 9 months ago. I feel blessed to have such excellent music and community-minded colleagues. I feel as if this concert is really bringing my two worlds (I live in Omaha) together. As an inaugural concert for NEBB in Lincoln, Drew Duncan (Abendmusik) reprising his solo role with NEBB, and working with Tom to present music for choirs, this concert is really going to be epic in nature.

One of the aspects that adds to this event is the piece "Make Our Garden Grow" the finale from Leonard Bernstein's Candide. LCA and FPC choirs in combination are presenting a truly stunning choral arrangement of this piece. This selection is our celebration of the life of Leonard Bernstein. This year marks 100 years since his birth. Many music and arts organizations around the country and world are celebrating this incredible artist, teacher, and conductor.

Leonard Bernstein at 100 has more information about his life and events throughout the world.

As a final legacy piece and connection to this great concert LCA has invited Glenn Greet, director of the Nebraska Brass Band to lead our annual "InChoir" event. This is the 4th year of the incredible night when the choir takes time to invite the public to our rehearsal and be a part of the mission and music of LCA!

InChoir Event - April 19, 2018

On April 19, 2017, come to the "In Choir" Event and sing with the Lincoln Choral Artists as we prepare for our spring concert on April 29, 2018.
Choral singing has the power to draw diverse communities together in a common musical experience. This program enables participants to get acquainted with great choral music by singing side-by-side with members of the Lincoln Choral Artists at a working rehearsal.
More than simply a rehearsal, "In Choir" events are stimulating, engaging choral experiences designed to illuminate music and text while revealing the historical and cultural influences that shaped their creation. Deliberately blurring the line between artists and spectators, "In Choir" creates opportunities for participants, at any level of musical ability, to get inside the rehearsal process. Hosted  by Artistic Director Jason M. Horner, and conducted by special guest Glenn Greet of the Nebraska Brass Band "In Choir" participants experience close-up and first-hand the gratifying work that culminates in polished performances.
All "In Choir" Events are free and open to the public. Scores are available 30 minutes prior to the beginning of rehearsal.
So come to the "In Choir" event on April 19, 2018 at 7:15 pm. with Glenn Greet- Conductor, Nebraska Brass Band
Nebraska Wesleyan University
Rogers Fine Arts, Second Floor Choral Rehearsal Room
Lincoln, NE 68504

Thursday, March 22, 2018

Rambling thoughts on tech and mission

I continue to challenge myself to come up with interesting topics and information for this blog. Last week's entry was very successful. So if you're interested in revisiting some old blog entries on subjects like the nature of music, EDM and choral collaborations, and my rants on singing and community check out this link and use the archive to the right:

Today I have no new ideas. I am simply contemplating the place and space of technology reflecting on and reflected in a predominantly and historically "acoustic" art. Choral singing, music making, and art have always balanced the traditions and the tech. The development of music scoring itself changed by the nature of the development of technology, i.e. the printing press. Historians point to this development as maybe the biggest fundamental change in the nature of "modern" society.

I look at my singers and because we are multi-generational (which is AWESOME!), and because we have a huge variety of backgrounds in musical and social experiences, I see a melding of thoughts and concerns on the purpose of technology as it influences on our art and culture of singing.

Choirs are decidedly "low tech." Really, we could function with a room, someone with a good ear for pitch, and our voices. But I also see how things like YouTube, social media, and mixing technology based visual elements into our music can be good and fun! The last concert which featured pop music and video contrasts in so many wonderful ways with our upcoming concert featuring, brass instruments and an organ. But this "mash up" of music and style over the season, for me, has been incredibly stimulating and challenging. I have heard from singers that they feel both challenged and energized by this confluence of ideas.

My goal is to continue to inspire the choir and the community with music and events that reach out to many differing concepts, but are always focused on maintaining the highest quality of music making. The Lincoln Choral Artists mission statement does give me a lot of encouragement and helps me to know that I am thinking about the ideas of culture, music and technology in a clear way.
Our mission is to serve the community by providing an excellent musical experience for our audiences and members.

Thursday, March 15, 2018

The nature of music: insight from Michael Tilson Thomas

Lincoln Choral Artists has moved into its final rehearsals of the season as we prepare for our participation in a Lincoln Festival of Music at First Plymouth Church on April 29th.

This concert will finish out our theme of "A Choral Continuum." We end with a concert featuring some music that talks about music. In general, the music is in a more traditional or "classical" mode.

As we continue our journey through all the ways music, and particularly, choral music moves an audience through time and space I wanted to take a moment to offer a perspective from a great conductor and music master, Michael Tilson Thomas.  A great voice and leader in the field of "classical" music and in particular, symphonic music, Thomas has great insight on the nature of music. His leadership as artistic director and conductor of the San Francisco Symphony is inspiring. This symphony is rated as one of the best in the world.

Below is a link to a great TED Talk by Thomas. Take a few minutes to enjoy his insight and if you have time visit the Keeping Score website and see what else he has to say about composers and music.

A few of my favorite moments from the TED Talk include these words:

"...classical music is a dialogue between nature; instinct and intelligence...what sticks with us as an audience when the music happens...and passing on the 'why' of music."

Thursday, February 22, 2018

It's been a minute...

Yes this is the name of a popular podcast and outdated cultural phrase, but seriously it's been a minute since I wrote on this blog. So much has happened in the choir and world over these weeks. We have had some personal tragedies, we have had some excellent guest conductors, we have grown and shared as an ensemble. We have all struggled with larger events in society; shootings, politics, and trying to figure out how to care for each other. I've said before this choir is made up of individuals who come together to create something larger than themselves. Over the next week as we make final preparations for our concert, I am reminded of the journey we go on each and every concert series, season, and over the life of this ensemble.
Singing, and singing well, has been a driving motivation for the group as well as focusing on being active members of the community. I have done one interview so far for this upcoming concert. More are coming. And I keep the idea of moving from Darkness to Light at the forefront of my mind. Really, this group moves from change to change, which can feel like Darkness, but hopefully it reflects a light and joy that comes uniquely from singing together. I am excited for tonight's rehearsal. I can wait for next week's energy and joy as we make final preparations and bring this music to life for the community.