One of today’s most distinctive choral composers is the American Morten Lauridsen. In his long career, the 69-year-old has created a huge body of work that has made him one of the most performed composers of the 20th and 21st centuries.
Why his music is so popular is easily understood. “He has his own musical language that can perhaps be described as neo-renaissance,” said Brady Allred, director of the Salt Lake Choral Artists. “It’s a style that singers and audiences love. And I would say that he is one of the most performed and loved American composers.”
Allred describes himself as a “big fan” of Lauridsen’s music. So much so that whenever he conducts abroad and is asked to program a piece by an American composer he invariably picks something by Lauridsen.
This weekend, local audiences will get the chance to experience a wide range of Lauridsen’s music when Allred and the Salt Lake Vocal Artists – one of the choirs in the Salt Lake Choral Artists organization – present a concert devoted to the venerable American composer. Titled “Shining Night: A Celebration of Morten Lauridsen,” the program will offer a broad palette of his vocal/choral music. “It’s going to be an overview of his music,” Allred said.
Allred doesn’t normally dedicate an entire evening to the music of one composer. The last time he did that was about two years ago with the music of Eric Whitacre. “That was a success,” Allred said and motivated him to do a concert focusing on Lauridsen’s music.
On the program will be some of Lauridsen’s more popular pieces as well as some that aren’t as well known. “We’re also doing a few that include vocal soloists.”
A few years ago filmmaker Michael Stillwater produced a documentary on Lauridsen, Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen. At this weekend’s concert there will be clips from the film’s trailers and bonus features in between the music. “These clips are going to offer background to the pieces we’re doing,” Allred said.
The concert will also feature the debut of the Youth Honor Choir, the SLCA’s newest group for singers between 15 and 21 years of age. “They’re going to be doing three pieces with [the Vocal Artists],” Allred said, adding that the newly formed choir had only a short time to learn the music. “They got a quick taste of our scheduling,” Allred joked. “But it worked out really nicely.”
Allred said the youth choir numbers around 40 members and represents singers from 10 different highs schools. “People have said that we’re competing with all the great high school programs, but I think teachers understand that their programs have priority. What we’re doing is giving these students extra training that can enhance their high school program.”
One of the reasons Allred decided to start this ensemble is because there aren’t any local choirs that focus on this age group. “After students leave high school they stop singing. We wanted to fill this niche and give these [young people] the chance to continue singing.”
Allred’s long term goal with the Youth Honor Choir is to increase its size to about 50 members and train them to be able to compete in international competitions. “This is the age group for youth choir competitions in Europe,” he said. And performing with the Vocal Artists, SLCA’s seasoned competition choir, will give these young singers a springboard for bigger things. “We want them to feel more confident and give them a boost.”
- CONCERT DETAILS
- What: “Shining Night: A Celebration of Morten Lauridsen,” Salt Lake Vocal Artists and Youth Honor Choir, Brady Allred, conductor
- Venue: Waterford School Concert Hall, 1480 E. 9400 South, Sandy
- Time and Date: 7:30 p.m. Jan. 18-19
- Tickets: $15 general, $10 students
- Phone: 801-232-7521
- Web: www.saltlakechoralartists.org