2012-02-16 / Current Happenings

Concert will bring ‘Perpetual Light’

By Steve Hoemberg

Rehearsing “Lux Aeterna” Conductor Steve Hoemberg leads a massed choir rehearsal of “Lux Aeterna,” an American choral masterwork composed by Morten Lauridsen which will be performed Saturday, Feb. 25, 7:30 p.m., at the Centennial Auditorium in Staples. Pictured above are members of the Staples Motley High School A Cappella Choir and the Staples Area Women’s and Men’s Choruses. They will be joined by the Twin Cities-based professional choir The Singers. The concert will also feature the three local choirs performing individually under the direction of Dr. Matthew Culloton, founder and artistic director of The Singers, who will also perform alone. (Staples World photo by Dawn Timbs) It’s difficult to adequately describe the significance of this performance. Events like this are not just a result of the hard work of our current singers, but the product of decades of hard work, leadership, passion and commitment to not only good music-making, but to a community.

For most people it never happens, but for a lucky few, once or twice in a lifetime a person has the chance to be part of something truly unique, to experience greatness and to rise to heights seldom achieved by most.

On Feb. 25 at 7:30 p.m. at Centennial Auditorium, Staples, the Staples Motley

High School A Cappella Choir, the Staples Area Women’s and Men’s choruses and the Twin Cites-based professional choir

The Singers will join to perform one of the most beloved American choral masterworks of all time.

Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” will be performed by 120-plus local musicians alongside 60 professional musicians. The concert will also feature the three local choirs performing individually under the direction of Dr. Matthew Culloton, founder and artistic director of The Singers, who will also perform alone.

The highlight of the evening will certainly be the collaboration of everyone on the “Lux Aeterna,” which is Latin for “Eternal Light.”

The Latin text of Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna” is taken from portions of the

Requiem Mass. With each movement of the work the text defines God as the everpresent source of light, a perpetual light that is a never-ending source of mercy, healing, guidance, rest, hope and peace.

Regardless of one’s spiritual beliefs, the “Lux Aeterna” is known to move the souls of audiences world-wide.

Musicologist and conductor Nick

Strimple describes Lauridsen as “the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic, (whose) probing, serene work contains an elusive and indefinable ingredient which leaves the impression that all the questions have been answered...”

In 2006, Morten Lauridsen was named an “American Choral Master” by the National Endowment for the Arts. In 2007, he was the recipient of the National Medal of Arts from the President in a White House ceremony, “for his composition of radiant choral works combining musical beauty, power and spiritual depth that have thrilled audiences worldwide.” The National Medal of Arts is the highest award given to artists and arts patrons by the United States government.

A number of chorus members have described the “Lux Aeterna” as the most difficult piece of music they’ve ever sung. While chorus members are concentrating on the hundreds of details in the music and sweating bullets of concern about whether we will be prepared in time, I’m not sure how to tell them that what they have already accomplished is incredible and we still have several rehearsals left.

What I do know for sure is that, at times while rehearsing the work, standing in front of so many dedicated students, colleagues and friends, I am reminded of why I chose this career.

As I look ahead to final preparations, I’m reminded of these words of an unknown author, “Many of the great achievements of the world were accomplished by tired and discouraged men who kept working.” The “Lux Aeterna” is an intensely complicated and difficult piece of work of which our singers will soon be very proud.

People still talk about “the time the Dale Warland Singers came to town.” Saturday, Feb. 25, will be another one of those moments in our community. The reputation and continuous dedication of our community and school choral ensembles will be on display, demonstrating the best of what collaboration, commitment and tradition can accomplish.

I have never been more proud of my choirs than I am now. How fitting that a community’s decades of commitment to excellence in choral music would result in a collaborative performance about perpetual light.

For tickets to this event, please visit www.staplesmen.org, or call the Staples Motley Community Education Office at 218-894-2497.

Steve Hoemberg is the director of choral activities for grades 7-12 at Staples Motley Public Schools. He is also the director of the Staples Area Men’s Chorus. He can be reached at shoemberg@isd2170.k12.mn.us.

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