LSM Blog

From the Heart by Dr. Paul Morton

2017 marks my 19th year as a faculty member with LSM. The program has been one of the most positive aspect of my professional life. I am continually amazed by how great the students are, how excellent my colleagues are, and how many blessings have come my way as a direct result of being in this community of music and faith. 

My main goal each summer with trumpet, small ensemble, and jazz students is to have fun! I want to create an atmosphere of joy and good humor. Oh, and by the way, we are going to learn a few things and give a great performance at the end of the month as well. Every year the students buy into this vision and I feed my soul off of their joy. 

Every summer I am awed at how great my colleagues are. They are wonderful musicians, but, the best part is how nurturing and caring they are of the students and each other. I always feel lifted up day in and day out in our month together.

I have taught the trumpet and Jazz studies at the University of Louisiana at Lafayette since 1998 and have achieved tenure and highest academic rank of Full Professor. My success at UL is due, in large part, to LSM. As a direct result of contacts made each summer, I have given concerts as a solo artist and adjudicated festivals in St. Petersborg, Russia, Hong Kong, and mainland China. I have also presented recitals at colleges and universities across the United States. When it came time to apply for promotion, many of my resume entries came from being fully involved at LSM. 

Having said all these things, the most important aspect of LSM is the combination of faith and music. Music is the direct voice to the Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit gives our music its voice. To see this at work over the month is a very joyful thing indeed. LSM has been one of the great blessings of my life. I give thanks for these 19 wonderful summers. 

Sincerely, Paul Morton

A Review of the Hymn Festival, by Sam Macy

Wednesday evening, LSM hosted its annual Hymn Festival. The night was filled with community, theological insight, and, of course, hymns!

The program, entitled “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice!”, was centered around the concept of the church year. As we progressed through the program, we cycled through hymns that related to the major seasons of the liturgical year, beginning with Advent and ending with Pentecost and the descent of the Holy Spirit. Additionally, the theme song of the night, “Dear Christians, One and All, Rejoice!”, was interspersed throughout the program, performed in different variations and interpretations.

Many types of instrumentation were utilized during the evening. The Reverend Dr. Paul D. Weber, who serves as the director of the Chapel Choir, and the Reverend Michael Costello, LSM’s Chaplain, served as cantors for the service. Dr. Kenneth Miller, on the organ, and the Chapel Choir, comprised of around 25 LSM students, led the congregation in the hymns. Additionally, many students, faculty members, and local musicians participated in the wonderful instrumental ensemble, including percussion, strings, woodwinds, and brass. Perhaps one of the nicest additions were seven children singers from the local Immanuel Lutheran Church. These children were heavily integrated into the program.

While there were many memorable moments from Wednesday evening’s Hymn Festival, perhaps one of the high points was the performance of “A Mighty Fortress”, the well-known “Reformation theme." Dr. Miller introduced the hymn with a spectacular organ prelude, which led to an explosive full instrumental and choral opening set by Dr. Weber. This setting had everything, from the original tune of Luther’s hymn to a childlike interpretation that utilized the children’s choir on hand. Sharing the experience of triumphantly singing this hymn with an audience of enthusiastic participants is something that will stick with the LSM students for a very long time.

The beauty of the Hymn Festival is that it is more than a standard concert, where music is presented by the students to the audience; the audience is an active participant, singing the hymns throughout the program. Hymn Festival truly characterizes the mission of LSM, which is to transform lives and connect people through faith and music. Students were able to sing and play some of Martin Luther’s greatest hymn while experiencing an enormous sense of community as everyone in the chapel sang together.

By Samuel Macy, Concert Choir/Arts Admin Intern

Practice Tips with Cheryl Lemmons

In my 15th year as Coordinator of Accompanying at Lutheran Summer Music, I again get to reflect on how this one-month experience so profoundly shapes my year (as it has now done for 15 years). Of course, there’s the obvious: getting out of the Texas heat for a month would give anyone a better outlook on life. But seriously, this month has become a “coming home” time for me again and again. I’m given a reminder of who I am and what it is I am to be about in this world during this month-long experience we call LSM. The monastic-like rhythm of our days here at LSM is grounding, calming, and life-giving. We pray together daily. We work hard daily. We have much fun daily. We bear one another’s burdens daily. We are reminded of why we have had the privilege of being put on this earth. Each morning I treasure the singing of Luther’s Morning Hymn by Carl Schalk. The progress made by my small ensemble students gladdens my heart. The time spent practicing and preparing for performances makes me a better and more focused person. Rehearsals are an opportunity to connect and grow together. Every meal is an opportunity to encounter my fellow faculty members in an ordinary, yet profound way. Ending each day with Evening Prayer has shaped my soul in ways I will never fully understand. Holy moments all.

For several years now I’ve had the privilege of sharing “Practice Tips” every morning with the community. They run the gamut from “Schedule your practice time,” to “Practice mindfully,” and everything in between. The older I get the more aware I become that every practice tip is just another way of realizing the sacredness of every moment, every note. What we’re attempting to do is to be fully present in every moment, with every note, alongside our colleagues and fellow students, aware of the holiness of it all. LSM is where I’m reminded of the sacredness of each ordinary moment. Every encounter with another human being is something to be treasured. The music we make together reflects a beauty far beyond our comprehension. Through our work together this month, we have the privilege of encountering the divine. And my entire year is better because of it.



LSM is a place for fun!

Lutheran Summer Music and Sounds of Summer Institute students enjoyed so many fun things this week! Our July 4th celebrations started traditionally with large and small ensemble rehearsals, but ended with a whole lot of fun and games. Students gathered for dinner around a barbecue, including a fully-stocked freezer with fudge bars and cherry ice pops. Interns Jason Laine and Audrey Hotard showed their creative side in adorning students' faces with face paint in a miriad of shapes and colors. Then students were surprised with two large bins full of water balloons for LSM's first ever 4th of July Water Balloon Olympics. Games included relays, human knots, races, and other challenges each team had to face! The night ended with a viewing of Valparaiso area fireworks and a showing of Moana. 

This week, we also got to bless our students with a day off-campus of our annual Mystery Trip! This year's adventure was a trip to Michigan City for a day at the beach, a chance to see all the animals at Washington Park Zoo, and the incredible opportunity to play alongside the Michigan City Municipal Band (led by Dr. Jeffrey Doebler). The students were thrilled during every part of the day, particularly their joy in playing the cowbell. It was the epitome of arts education in action and we are so proud of our students for their involvement in the community events near Valparaiso!

This weekend brings a showcasing of our talented SOSI students in their student recital and the Final SOSI Concert, featuring the Festival Band, Choir, and Orchestra in a collaborative finishing piece. You can watch this concert LIVE online via Facebook. Please like and follow us, or join us on campus for all the wonderful musical and worship events we have to offer this weekend and throughout the rest of this month. Click here to see our full calendar of events.

We have SO many more photos to share with you on our Flickr page. To see more photos from our 4th of July, please be sure to click here or visit our Facebook page to catch video clips of students playing in Michigan City. 

A Message from Chaplain Michael Costello

It is wonderful to be at Valparaiso University this summer. It is hard to believe that the last time that LSM was here was in 2000 and I was a concert choir intern, accompanying the choir. A lot has happened in those 17 years!

The beautiful Chapel of the Resurrection offers the students opportunities to worship in creative ways. We gather in the Gloria Christi Chapel in the morning, where we pray and sing Carl Schalk’s setting of Luther’s Morning Prayer. We gather in the center of the nave for Evening Prayer. The Chapel Choir sings beautiful anthems and Psalms with the organ from the choir balcony. And this week we will explore the Baptistery, the Chancel (with the Christus Rex at the center), and the Prayer Labyrinth. As you can tell, our worship life is rich and Valparaiso offers our community a worship space like no other.

Our theme for worship this year is “God Is Our Refuge and Strength” (Psalm 46:1a). During this year we celebrate the 500th anniversary of Martin Luther posting his 95 Theses on the door of the Castle Church in Wittenberg, Germany, and so we thought it fitting to return to the verse which was the starting point for Luther’s great chorale, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” To emphasize our theme, Dr. Paul Weber, our chapel choir director, has written a lovely responsory to be sung each night at Evening Prayer.

Throughout the month during Evening Prayer we are working through the book of Romans. Thus far, we have been emphasizing one of St. Paul’s most important messages to the church of every time and place, that we have been baptized into Christ’s death and resurrection, are dead to sin, and alive in Christ Jesus Our Lord. That is a springboard for the rest of the book of Romans and, indeed, a springboard for our worship life as well.

I hope that you can join us for some of our services this month. You will witness a gathering of young people deeply immersed in the liturgy and eager to hear the Word of God. And more? They are all bright, young musicians, ready to use their gifts to share the love of God in the world.

We continue to update our Flickr page with photos! Be sure to check out our latest uploads.

Student Concerto Recital

We are so proud of all the student concerto recital performers who presented their pieces during last night's recital. They have shown great discipline and hard work in preparing their pieces over the past year and we were thrilled to host a recital filled to brim with musical excellence. A congratulations is extended to all performers, especially Daniel Johnson, who has been selected by the jury to perform in the LSM Festival Orchestra concert as the concerto artist on July 22nd. We are excited to witness the progress he will undoubtedly make during the next four weeks.

Here is a review of the recital program:

Eclogue by Gerald Finzi (1901-1956)
Nicholas Hyslop, piano │ Elizabeth Manus, piano

Concerto in F Major by Carl Maria von Weber (1786-1826)
III. Rondo: Allegro
Grace Tobin, bassoon │ Chialing Hsieh, piano 

Marceau Symphonique by Alexandre Guilmant (1837-1911)
Daniel Johnson, trombone │Cole Burger, piano

Concerto in E Minor by Felix Mendelssohn (1809-1847)
I. Allegro molto appassionato
Miriam Koby, violin │ Elizabeth Manus, piano

Piano Concerto No. 2 in G Minor by Camille Saint-Saens (1835-1921)
I. Andante sostenuto
Noah Smith, piano │ Cole Burger, piano

Lutheran Summer Music went live on FB to stream this event! You can watch the recital by clicking here.  We hope you will be able to join us online or in person to all our musical and worship events over the summer. All are welcome in this place. 

A Word from our Dean of Students, Erika Tobin

Hello everyone!

We are off to an amazing start! I am Erika Tobin, the Dean of Students this summer and I have been so proud of and energized by the students that have come from literally all over the country to this year’s Lutheran Summer Music (LSM) and Sounds of Summer Institute (SOSI)! This summer, our Student Life Theme is “The Story of Us” which we are approaching from the starting point of Pixar Movies. Each counseling group is called a “Story Group” and the different movies that our Story Groups are representing are: 

Wall-E (the Garbage Boys)  –  T.J.’s Story Group
Cars (the Law Abiding Drivers [the LADs])  –  Drew’s Story Group
A Bug’s Life (the Beautiful Butterflies)  –  Michael’s Story Group
The Incredibles (the Incredibles)  –  Katie T.’s Story Group
Finding Nemo and Finding Dory (the Ocean Explorers)  –  Katie P.’s Story Group

Toy Story (the Aliens)  –  Sammi’s Story Group
Inside Out (the Emotion Control Room)  –  Admissions Office, Dietrich and Kristina
Up (the Rising Balloons)  –  Dean Erika, Nurse Leah, and Intern

Through these movies and through our lives here at LSM and SOSI, we have begun engaging in story telling, speaking, and listening. We are telling our stories and it has been so powerful to hear our students stand up and share pieces of their lives with us. They have articulated that it takes courage to share part of their lives with the large group, and it also makes the large group feel more like a family when they do so. 

This year being the 500th Anniversary of the Lutheran Reformation, as a church we have been talking a lot about this macro story of the tradition. This was our departure point for our Student Life Theme. Alongside telling the macro story of the Lutheran tradition, within Student Life, we are also telling the micro stories of our lives so we can see how we fit into the macro story. When talking, texting, or FaceTiming/Skypeing with your kids, ask them for stories from their time here at LSM and SOSI, ask them about their Story Groups, and ask them about the Staff and Faculty versus Students Beachball Volleyball game!!

We are so grateful that all of you sent your kids to be LSM and SOSI students! It is such a blast playing IDIOT and Hearts and ERS with them, randomly bursting into song with them, and talking about life with them. It has been such a privilege and blessing to witness friendships being formed and personalities emerging as our students get more and more comfortable in this community. Each year, the student body has a different interest and vibe, and this year, the physical activities like soccer and kickball have been HUGE hits! It’s always awesome to see our students engaging with their body in such amazing ways. I was so excited to come back to my seventh LSM and my first SOSI because I couldn’t wait to be with and work with your kids again. My excitement and anticipation has paid off. Your kids are rockstars!

Grace & peace,

Erika Tobin

Day 1 of Week 1: LSM 2017 Begins!

We are so excited to be at Valparaiso University this summer! It has been 17 years since our last stay, and we couldn't be more thrilled to have a beautiful space for worship and to welcome new and old faces into the LSM community.  LSM students, faculty, summer and national staff gathered in the Gloria Christi Chapel for our first Morning Prayer and Announcements. As has become a tradition in the last decade, Luther's Morning Prayer (click here to listen!) by our very own Carl Schalk, was sung by students in 4-part harmony. Within the first measures of this beautiful arrangement, there is already a coming together of individual voices into one and a growing excitement through each verse. 

Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Sounds of Summer Institute are grounded in three core values: Lutheran faith, musical excellence, and nurturing community. Morning Prayer and Announcements is a time when all three of these values shine. Rev. Michael D. Costello leads us in prayer, hymn, and the singing of Luther's Morning Prayer. Cheryl Lemmons (pictured left) also speaks to students with a practice tip of the day, inspring focus and discipline in each student to excel in their own musicianship. She advises students to plan their practice time, be mindful in that space, and let prayer be a part of their progress. 

The worship theme for this year is "God Is Our Refuge & Strength." As we are in the year of the 500th anniversary of the Reformation, this spiritual thread will be sewn into all that is sung and played during the next 4 weeks. Dr. Paul D. Weber will be leading the Chapel Choir in the singing of BWV: 80, Ein feste Burg ist unser Gott during our annual Bach Cantata Worship Service (Sunday, July 16, 2017), Rev. Costello has included Psalm 46 as a part of our Evening Prayer, both as a sung hymn and chanted psalm. Our greatest hope is that students tranform musically and spiritually in this immersed experience. 

We invite you to like our Facebook page or view our Flickr page to get a daily dose of pictures, stories, and updates from our summer session. The campus is buzzing with laughter, music, and prayer!

LSM 2016 Comes to a Close

Students gathered as a community for the last night at Farwell in community friendship. Joy has been a common sight found at LSM and at the very last moment before goodbyes on Sunday morning, we see student connections stronger than they ever have been. Students chowed down at their pizza party and rolled over laughing to the documentary/reality tv show put together by Michael McKenzie and Grace Lindmark. Then students finished the night with a showing of the Disney classic Hercules. 


This summer has been nothing short of incredible. The students raised each other up with every concert and recital, screamed together as they plunged down slides and coasters at Valleyfair, sang together at Morning and Evening Prayer, threw water balloons at rec time, practiced with their instructors' guidance, and had many a soft serve cone at the Union cafeteria. In those moments, there was laughter, bonding, and celebration of friendship growing on a daily, almost hourly, basis. We look to our Lord in gratitude for having blessed us with the finest students from all over the United States. 

Many thanks to Luther College for their 8 previous years of hosting and collaboration. We are grateful for all the hard work of Luther College faculty and staff and it is very bittersweet to be heading to Valparaiso University n

lors, interns, donors, board members, and all other hands whose hard work has made this summer's LSM such a success. We hope to see you all at Valparaiso University next year!

God bless!

The Sounds of Silence by Cathie Schauer

Our chaplain Rev. Jim Honig discussed making room for silence in his spiritual-building practices at Morning Prayer and Cheryl Lemmons, our staff accompanist, mentioned the need for practicing silence and walking in her "practice tips of the day."

Practicing silence can be hard at a four-week long music camp. We are immersed in sound. In the music building, one hears music of all kinds emanating from practice rooms, faculty studios, and the large ensemble rooms. We can hear the lone solitary voice of a clarinet, a string quartet, or the sounds of the band. When we are in the offices, we hear different sounds: the whir of the copier, the whack of the large stapler, and the tapping of keystrokes as work is done feverishly to complete a task. 

Walking and immersing yourself in the out of doors is a practice that seems to be much easier to accomplish. On campus we seem to walk everywhere. Off campus we walk in the prairie, along one of the many trails here in Decorah, to Dunning Springs or the Whippy Dip. Walking is easy. One hears sounds when walking. We hear students calling for each other across the library lawn, the sound of a golf cart whizzing by, the gurgling of a stream, or the call of a bird. I am not sure that Rev. Jim and Cheryl had the actual act of walking in mind when they spoke at morning prayer and announcements. I like to think of it as just being or some would say communicating with nature.

Just being or practicing silence AND walking, or just being, can be hard. LSM helps remind me that sound is what makes the silence welcome, and even anticipated. When I go to Baker Village, where the faculty and staff stay at Luther College, the silence of the Decorah landscape is awe inspiring. We have had some nights when the stars have been spectacular. I have turned my phone off and walked by the prairie and "just been" - me, the silence, and the occassional deer or rabbit. Issues and problems that came up during the day seem to magically melt away. They become small. The silence and walking loom much larger. I invite you all to give it a try. Silence and just being. It can wrap its arms around you and give you the breath you need for the coming day and tasks ahead.


Subscribe to RSS - blogs