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  • Nov 3-5

Shining Night

shining night movie at friday harbor film festival

This fas­ci­nat­ing film offers a glimpse into the life and music of the artist con­sid­ered to be one of the great­est liv­ing choral com­posers and cer­tain­ly one of the most fre­quent­ly per­formed.  Morten Lau­rid­sen is a recip­i­ent of the Nation­al Medal of Arts, and was also named an ‘Amer­i­can Choral Mas­ter’ by the Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts.  The film fea­tures inti­mate inter­views with him in Cal­i­for­nia, Scot­land and Wal­dron Island (in the San Juans), inter­wo­ven with per­for­mances of his mas­ter­works in Amer­i­ca and Scot­land and com­men­taries by music con­tem­po­raries.  It gives the view­er a rare oppor­tu­ni­ty to spend a lit­tle time with this extra­or­di­nary man, who has derived his inspi­ra­tion from the nat­ur­al world.  As Lau­rid­sen has observed, “You can hear that its seren­i­ty, calm­ness and beau­ty have crept into my music.”  “Life is a mys­tery.  There is some­thing big­ger than us out there.  And how do we tap into that?  You go down deep.”

Lau­rid­sen cur­rent­ly lives on San Juan Island.  Pri­or to mov­ing here, he spent many sum­mers on Wal­dron, which is where he com­posed what Brett Camp­bell (who writes about music for The Wall Street Jour­nal, Willamette Week, Ore­gon Arts Watch, San Fran­cis­co Clas­si­cal Voice and many oth­er pub­li­ca­tions) has char­ac­ter­ized as “some of the most poignant choral music of the last cen­tu­ry.” Work­ing out of two rus­tic cab­ins on Wal­dron, nei­ther of which had run­ning water or elec­tric­i­ty, Lau­rid­sen com­posed much of his music on a bat­tered old piano that cost him $50, by light from can­dles and kerosene lanterns.

Shin­ing Night, which was direct­ed by Michael Still­wa­ter, weaves inter­views (with poet and for­mer Nation­al Endow­ment for the Arts chair­man Dana Gioia, con­duc­tor Robert Geary, composer/conductor Paul Mealor, con­duc­tor Paul Sala­munovich, and local com­pos­er Alex Shapiro) with both live and record­ed per­for­mances by a vari­ety of choral groups (includ­ing Volti, Polypho­ny, the Dale War­land Singers, and the San Fran­cis­co Choral Society).

Run­ning time: 1 hour 14 minutes