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Reformation Cantata features work by Luther composers

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Emeritus David  Judisch and Jonathan Kuehner (‘20) acted in the piece written by Dan Raney (‘92) and sung by Cathedral Choir.

Emeritus David Judisch and Jonathan Kuehner (‘20) acted in the piece written by Dan Raney (‘92) and sung by Cathedral Choir.

Annie Goodroad (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Annie Goodroad (‘19) | Photo Bureau

Emeritus David Judisch and Jonathan Kuehner (‘20) acted in the piece written by Dan Raney (‘92) and sung by Cathedral Choir.

Natalie Nelson, Staff Writer

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Concert Band, Cathedral Choir, and Collegiate Chorale gathered to perform the Reformation Cantata, the grand finale to the Reformation Symposium on Oct. 31. The concert showcased a collection of compositions by four current Luther students and four alumni composers.
Instructor in Music and Conductor of Cathedral Choir and Norsemen Mark Potvin (‘01) said that the performance was a valuable opportunity for the performers because the caliber of music was closer to the level of in a graduate school setting.

“The performance was a really unique adventure for our student musicians,” Potvin said. “It gave us a chance to premiere new music, which is not something that Luther gets to do a whole lot, and it’s also music that is in a very different vein from what much of our programming typically is on campus. Consequently, it was a special opportunity for the ensembles that performed it.”

This unique event did not come without its challenges. Potvin added that working on such a collaborative project presented some difficulties in rehearsal, especially since all the ensembles only rehearsed together twice before the performance. According to Potvin, rehearsing the individual pieces in isolation can be difficult, but they become more cohesive when all of the parts are combined.

“It was a lot like taking a pile of clay or Play-Doh and having a whole bunch of hands in the mix molding it into what it was going to be,” Potvin said. “That is incredibly rewarding and incredibly challenging because everybody’s vision is just a little bit different. Because it’s new music, there are no reference recordings. We’re creating this from scratch.”

Concert Band played each piece of the evening including four solo pieces.Concert Band opened the concert with “this is most certainly true” by James M. Stephenson, the only peice of the event not written by a Luther student or alum. They also played Caleb Linville’s (‘19) “Wenn die Fülle der Zeit Gekommen war,” “Shattered Cathedral” by Hunter Prueger (‘18), and John Kuntz’s (‘19) “Two Minds.” Pablo Gómez-Estévez’s (‘18) song “Sola Fide” was performed by an instrumental quintet.

Annie Goodroad (‘19) | Photo Bureau
Director of Bands and Associate Professor of Music Joan deAlbuquerque directs Concert Band while they play music written by current students.

Cathedral Choir sang Dan Raney’s (‘92) “Here I Stand.” Along with the choir and band, this piece included solos by Adjunct Faculty in Music Jonathon Struve (‘02) and Associate Professor of Music Beth Ray Westlund (‘89). It also featured a spoken dialogue performed by Emeritus David Judisch and Jonathan Kuehner (‘20).

Collegiate Chorale performed Daniel Kallman’s (‘78) “Luther on Laughter (LOL),” which also featured a blue grass ensemble. All of the ensembles performed Sky Macklay’s (‘10) “Disputations (On the Power of Indulgences)” and “Reformation Festival” by Mark Petering (‘95).

Attendee Alexander Lapinski (‘19) was struck by the variety of the music that was all inspired by the theme of the Reformation.

“What was really intriguing to me was the way in which all these composers were moving around the same general ideas in such different ways,” Lapinski said. “There were your very typical oratorio-style orchestral pieces with the choir behind them, but there was some really experimental music that was happening as well.”

Lapinski said he enjoyed the opportunity the concert held for student composers at Luther.

“My favorite aspect was the fact that current students [contributed] pieces,” Lapinsk said. “I hadn’t actually known that until I walked in and saw the program, so seeing the names of some people I know and consider friends was really cool and made me really excited to listen to the pieces.”

Kuntz is a music major at Luther with an emphasis on composition and was one of the student composers invited to write a piece for the Cantata. He was happy with the way the different pieces came together.

“I enjoyed the variety the most because I think something like that rarely ever happens,” Kuntz said. “At first it was kind of nerve-wracking to have eight movements of a cantata that didn’t have any kind of musical motive that they shared or any sort of musical similarities, but what that did was allow for a huge amount of variety to take place that I think the crowd and the audience really responded positively.”

According to Kuntz, collaborating with the alumni composers added to his knowledge about the field and what the life of a composer is like.

“The biggest thing that I got out of working with Luther composers were their stories on how they got to where they are now since their time at Luther,” Kuntz said. “I think there’s a huge value in collaboration between alumni and students in many facets here. This is just one way of working with alumni, but if there is anything to be learned from this, it’s that more of this collaboration should take place at Luther.”

Potvin said the Reformation Cantata performance felt like the perfect capstone to the Reformation Symposium.

“It felt like we were a part of something that transcended a large chunk of the college’s history and that somehow mirrored the evolution of the Reformation from 1517 to 2017,” Potvin said. “We’re proud of it, and I’m particularly proud of our students and excited for them. I think the campus community was enriched by this experience. It was a perfect way to wrap up the day’s activities and the year-long 500th anniversary celebration.”

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