National Lutheran Choir Announces Reformation Commission
Major work commissioned from Norwegian composer, Kim André Arnesen
MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota, March 1, 2016 – The National Lutheran Choir (NLC) – www.nlca.com - announces the commission of a major choral-instrumental work, “Holy Spirit Mass,” to receive its world premiere in October 2017. Norwegian composer Kim André Arnesen has been commissioned to write this significant new work in commemoration of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation.
The new work, titled “Holy Spirit Mass,” will be scored for SATB chorus and 16 instruments and will have an anticipated duration of 35-45 minutes.
The commission was funded by NLC supporters Celia Ellingson and Gary Aamodt with the intent of expressing unity and finding common ground between the Catholic and Protestant denominations that the Reformation divided. Significantly, the year 2017 also marks the 50th anniversary of standing dialogues between the Vatican and the Lutheran World Federation that have successfully resolved many major issues that led to the sixteenth century Reformation.
The texts for the piece, to be performed primarily in English, are derived from the 9th Century hymn, Veni Creator Spiritus, Martin Luther’s hymn “Come Holy Ghost, God and Lord,” and the Ordinary of the Mass.
“This is the first major Reformation anniversary that takes place in an ecumenical age,” say Ellingson and Aamodt. “We hope this musical offering by a brilliant young composer helps to deepen reconciliation among Christians and promotes Christian unity throughout the world.”
Norwegian composer, Kim André Arnesen (b. 1980), is a rising star in the world of choral music. Educated at the Music Conservatory in Trondheim, Arnesen has received commissions from the Nidaros Cathedral Girls Choir (Magnificat, 2010) and Nidaros Cathedral Boys Choir (Requiem, 2014) which have gone on to receive worldwide fame. The Nidaro’s Cathedral Girls’ Choir’s recording of the Magnificat was nominated for a 2016 GRAMMY award and the Requiem will receive its New York City premiere at Carnegie Hall in January of 2017. Arnesen’s writing includes several Christmas anthems, including “Even When He is Silent” and “Cradle Hymn,” which were included in the Saint Olaf College Choir’s 2013 CD, Christmas in Norway. In July of this year, Arnesen’s newest work, “The Wound in the Water,” will be premiered during the St. Olaf Festival in Trondheim, with the Texas-based choir, Conspirare, and conductor Craig Hella Johnson. Arnesen is a member of the Norwegian Society of Composers and he currently serves as composer-in-residence for the Denver-based choral ensemble, Kantorei.
Of the NLC commission, Arnesen remarks, “I have always wanted to write a Mass and I'm thrilled that my fifth large-scale work will be written for the outstanding National Lutheran Choir and Artistic Director David Cherwien. The music will express thankfulness in a joyous celebration for what the Reformation has given us, but also contemplate the hurtfulness within our Christian denominations. Thus, the work will attempt to help and inspire us to continue in an ecumenical direction. The musical language will be tonal and melodic, and I strongly believe that beauty and evocative music is able to strengthen us and change us.”
World premiere performances of the “Holy Spirit Mass” are tentatively scheduled to take place in Washington D.C. and Minneapolis-St. Paul in October 2017. In Minneapolis-St. Paul, the commission will be part of a series of Reformation Day activities organized by the National Lutheran Choir and Luther Seminary, which will include numerous churches, scholars and speakers from around the country.
Of the project, NLC’s artistic director David Cherwien says, “Music is so central to the experience of what it means to be Lutheran, there is no better way to express our hope for ongoing Reformation than to sing. We are pleased and proud to be undertaking this project.”
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