morten lauridsen

When Morten Lauridsen was growing up in Beaverton in the 1950s, students commonly headed out to the Tillamook Burn to plant trees. A few years ago, the composer returned to the once-barren site to see it now covered by towering firs.

Lauridsen’s musical career has sprouted proportionately over that half century. Now the dean of American choral composers, his works are performed by choirs all over the world. He received the 2007 National Medal of Arts at the White House, and his works have appeared on more than 100 CDs.

That’s how I opened the short Willamette Week profile I wrote about one of Oregon’s most prominent composers when he returned last year for performances of his music by Portland State University choirs led by Lauridsen’s former student, Ethan Sperry. Lauridsen returns to Portland Thursday night for the Oregon premiere of a new film documentary about him called Shining Night. The first production by filmmaker Michael Stillwater has already earned honors from film festivals in Los Angeles and Washington DC.  At the Portland screening, Sperry’s Portland State Chamber Choir and other local singers will perform some of Lauridsen’s music live, and the composer and filmmaker will participate in a post screening question and answer session.

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