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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