LSM Blog

Peter Wessler Looks Back and Ahead

Lutheran Music Program Administrative and Communications Coordinator, Molly Maillette, has been asking me all summer to make a contribution to the LSM blog. As summer academy director, my days all month have overflowed with scheduling concerns, facility requests, putting out the occasional “fire,” and just keeping everything running smoothly. And now, surprisingly, as all the preparations for Festival weekend are completed, and the special schedule for the next three days is in full swing, I currently find myself in a type of “calm before the storm” of closing up shop and moving out of Luther College for the last time, at least for awhile.

Lutheran Summer Music was originally envisioned by our founders as a program “without walls,” meaning that the program was intended to be transient, moving from one Lutheran college campus to another, summer after summer. And for our first twenty years, that is what happened. Then, about fifteen years ago, the practice of entering into longer-term contracts with our host campuses was put into effect, making some of the administrative processes of fitting the program into a host facility less cumbersome.

I have been privileged to serve as academy director for 14 years, and for eleven of those years, the program has resided here at Luther. It has been a great blessing to be in this location for the past eight consecutive summers. The facilities are outstanding, and the people are absolutely wonderful. Decorah is a great little town, a wonderful place to spend the summer, and I have always eagerly anticipated my return here.

While we have been greatly blessed to be at Luther these past several years, I am happy to say that I am very excited about our move to Valparaiso University for LSM 2017 and taking on the challenge of re-creating our program in a new place. There is also great excitement about the move in the Valparaiso community and among many of our friends and donors with ties to the university. Their Center for the Arts and Chapel of the Resurrection will provide marvelous venues for our curricular, performance and worship components, and the planned faculty and student housing will provide excellent living accommodations for all in attendance. We hope you will plan to join us, as a student, parent, or audience member. It’s going to be great! See you at Valpo!

Sentiments from Maggie DeWulf

Ever since my first day at LSM, I felt as if I was home. I came to LSM last year and learned to look at life from many different angles. Since my first time here, I made new friends, created music, and learned more about my views and the Lutheran faith. Coming back was like a dream come true. I reconnected with my friends from last summer and also made new friends. I found that music isn't just fun, it's everything to me. Since that first year and now this one, I want to continue to make music. I want to go to the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor in Texas and study opera, bass clarinet, and composition! It has been an honor to be a part of LSM for the past two summers. Thank you to all of my wonderful private instructors, my enthusiastic and funny conductors, my faithful friends, the fabulous interns, and all my family and loved ones.



Some fun with Jakob Boers:

Try New Things by Matthew Manchigiah

Try New Things

In May of this year, I graduated college, stepping into a terrifying new realm of life and becoming entirely exposed. In all of the years leading up to my final year of school, if you had asked me what my plans were post-graduation, I would have given you the response of, “Oh, I’ll most likely attend graduate school for a master’s degree in vocal performance.” I tried desperately to muster some enthusiasm in this response but the words always left my mouth with an air of annoyance and indifference. I always knew in my heart that furthering my stay in the academic world was not high on my priority list. I was ready to escape the monotony of classwork and graded assignments. Mind you, I am not slamming school, educators, or anybody who wishes to further their education; I am simply saying that the realm of academia was no longer where I wished to be. I was ready for new challenges, a different sort of expectations; being planted somewhere I could feel useful.

However, I had resigned myself to the fate of slogging through at least two more years of school because I knew that the time spent there would for the betterment of my instrument. I thought that by remaining in the familiar routine of school, I was doing myself a favor instead of venturing out and exploring new possibilities. When it seemed that I had but this one option, I spiraled out of control. I couldn't complete any schoolwork or keep my emotions in check. I didn’t want to take any steps towards applying to grad school because I knew that it meant being miserable. I sank into a deep depression and battled demons everyday. I felt that I had no say in the direction my life was heading; life was just an inevitable sprint towards more and more school. There were so many days when I felt I had no reason to leave my room. I was drowning in confusion. Through the help of some individuals who saw my unspoken pain, I began to recuperate and find that I could once again take control of my life. The thing I wanted most was to try my hand at something new. I needed a change.

I stepped away from performing for my own sanity. To serve in a new capacity, I took on the role of head stage manager for my university’s spring opera. Working backstage was something unfamiliar, but I was ready for a different type of challenge. In taking on this new role, I discovered something that I had a sincere passion for and succeeded at. Jesus works in mysterious ways; wrecking our plans entirely by ripping me away from performing, something I thought was my greatest talent in the world, and planting me somewhere that felt wholly foreign.

Working behind the scenes, being the unseen problem solver and caretaker of numerous singing actors allowed me to realize that I had a genuine passion for taking care of others and satisfying their needs above my own. This is what led me to LSM. When I was informed of the opportunity to join the intern team as the stage management intern this summer I knew that it was an opportunity I could not pass up. In the first week with this wonderful cluster of people I have discovered how quickly a community can be formed. Though I have known some of these incredible people for four or five years and some only four or five days I feel we were all meant to come together at this time in our lives. We are all at different junctures in our lives, some are graduated with jobs, some are just at the beginning of their collegiate careers, and yet we have all joined together to serve the needs of others and learn new trades and skills. Also, we should have our own TV show, just saying.

If you are an LSM student reading this, then in the next few weeks, I implore you to try new things. Go out of your way to talk to someone who you’ve not yet approached. Try your hand at something new musically and diversify your skillset. You have so much untapped potential: go forth and discover what you’re capable of.

Recently, I got to spend some time with my 5-year-old cousin, Emma. I was awake early in the morning when Emma came downstairs to eat breakfast. I wasn’t entirely sure what to get her so I asked her if she wanted any cereal. She picked Cinnamon Toast Crunch and climbed up onto the barstool. I poured the cereal and she looked me straight in the eyes and told me not to put milk on it (I think she didn’t like the idea of the cereal getting soggy and mushy). Halfway through the bowl of cereal, Emma asked for milk on her Cinnamon Toast Crunch and said that she wanted to try something different. I told her that trying new things is the best way to experience life because it gives us a taste of what we like and what we don’t like. Trying different things shows us what we’re good at what could work on. I simplified for her into a simple “proverb”: “Trying new things is good.” In that moment, I realized that I was not only trying to teach Emma a life lesson with something as miniscule as cereal, but also reassuring myself that there are exciting new experiences awaiting all of us in this life.

Now that I’ve graduated, I can give you a more enthusiastic response to the question of what is next for me. I’m going to Disneyworld.


Matthew Manchigiah is the Lutheran Summer Music 2016 Stage Management Intern. He grew up in North Carolina, Virginia, Texas and Nebraska and has BM- Vocal Performance from the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor (UMHB) in Belton, TX.

Tarkel Price, a story

Hello. My name is Tarkel Price and I am studying the Trombone here at LSM. I play in Band and Orchestra in addition to singing in the Chapel Choir. LSM has been an amazing experience for me.

One thing that I love about LSM is how supportive the community is. When someone feels down or needs help with their practicing, someone is always there to help out.

The worship services are also amazing as they are filled with wonderful music. This past Sunday, for example, Bach’s Cantata number 34 was sung as part of worship. The wonderful music during worship enhances our faith as well as musical growth.

As we head into Festival Week I am excited and a little nervous, but I know I’ll be okay and have fun because my friends are here to support me. 


Tarkel Price has appeared in several co-curricular activities on campus, including UMHB's "Billy Goats Gruff" children's opera and as a soloist at worship services with the chapel choir. He is from Seattle, WA.


More videos from Jakob Boers!

Student story from Jackelyn Essman

The students at LSM are kind, thoughtful, and intentional about their time at Luther College. We are so proud of all of them for all that they do and are excited to share this story from Jackie Essman:

My name is Jackelyn Essman and I play flute. The first lesson I had with Dr. Leffler changed my tone and my view on music. There are people who say change comes with time. I don't agree. She showed me how to change my embouchure and I have been working on it since the day she told me. Although the change is miniscule, I can hear a difference in my playing. 

LSM has tought me so much. Dr. Hamilton is my music theory teacher and I've learned about triads, the circle of fifths, and so many other things while only having his class 8 times. I comparison to school, it might take twice as long to learn the same things. 

Schools are very structured. Basing things on what needs to be taught versus what we want to learn. LSM helps us grow by teaching us things based on where we are with our instrument. I find it easier to learn things with these instructors because I feel that they understand where I want to go. 


Thank you for your lovely words, Jackie! And here is word from Jakob Boers:

Kindness is Kontajus

LSM 2016 is filled with nothing short of an incredible list of talented people. This afternoon, 4 of our 10 interns put on a performance of "Billy Goats Gruff" led by George and Penny Hogan (vocal faculty at University of Mary-Hardin Baylor). This children's opera contains music written by Mozart but with lyrics adapted to fit the story line of the Billy Goats Gruff. With only 12 practices under their belts, Clinton Barrineau, Katherine Spellmon, Juanita Ortiz, and Matthew Manchigiah all took the stage and wowed the youth of Decorah. They will also be performing their opera for the LSM community on Monday, July 18 as part of a recreational treat. I am certain our LSM students will delight in it as much as the Decorah community has. Here are some sneak peeks into the performance!

Matthew "bullies" the audience prior to his character transformation.Three billy goats (Clinton, Juanita, and Katherine) fear the bully!The bully scares the billy goats off the bridge.  The billy goats make a plan of action to get Lucy D. Lambamore. Friends for life!



Student Kelsi Halvorson writes about her experience!

Hello, I’m Kelsi and I play the clarinet. I am from Becker, Minnesota. LSM has been a whole new world for me. In small towns like mine, I can’t find someone who is not obsessed with rap or country music. Finding someone who loves menuets or concertos as much as me is basically impossible. Students at LSM are one of a kind. Everyone here has a passion for music that is not replicated in any other program or community. I think I can speak for everyone when I say, my peers, my counselors, and my teachers all teach me something daily. It is nice to meet other people that want to pursue similar majors in college as I do. Being here is a breath of fresh air! This is where I belong. This is my first year here and I love the environment. Like I said, I learn everyday! Whether that be musically, instrumentally, or socially, these new findings will be something I take with me when I go home, when I go to college next year, and forever! I learned about LSM on a tour of Augsburg College and I am so glad I did. 

From Olajuwon Osinaike

When everyone back home heard where I was going during my summer, they all came to me with the same questions. “Are you Lutheran,” “Why do this instead of a summer job and “What does it mean to be Lutheran?” were just some of the questions people asked me. To answer them, I simply stated what I truly believed. I may not be Lutheran but all religions are welcome at LSM. I chose to do this instead of a job because I believe my musical talent and abilities are more important than working just for money. I want what I do to have a purpose. Also, I’m not 100% sure what it means to be Lutheran, but we are all connected through our relationships to the Lord, our God and Savior. No religious name or group is going to keep me or anyone else from honoring Him day in and day out. 


Photo: Olajuwon hanging out with LSM friend on Downtown Decorah Day


Jakob Boers is up and running again:

Intern Josh Horton tells all

LSM is like college without the classes. Sure, it's hard work, but what's worthwhile that isn't?

This is my first time at LSM. I knew nothing about this program until 4 months ago when I overheard my band director at Concordia mentioning it to a prospective student. I was a freshman at the time, and am now transitioning into my sophomore year. This summer I am serving as an intern for LSM's band director, Dr. Doebler of Valparaiso University. It is truly an honor to work under him; he has an answer for anything and everything. His "Joke of the Day" really makes for a fun rehearsal, but also creates a productive band. The experiences I have now are preparing me for (hopefully) a career in music education.

Currently, I participate in Band and Orchestra. In addition to this, I make up half of a clarinet-flute duo, and have an unaccompanied solo to work on. The opportunities for building musical maturity here are boundless, and there's nowhere else I'd rather do it than this community. Before I arrived at Luther College, I could not have imagined how well my time would be spent. It allows me to spend hours a day on clarinet, I can solicit advice from fellow musicians and friends, and I receive two half-hour lessons each week with a fantastic professor. The other interns and the camp have helped me so much in becoming the person and musician I want to be—and the program isn't even halfway over.

Time is a strange thing at LSM. The days are long and busy, but the weeks go by rapidly. The minutes in the practice room are an eternity, but the hour is up in no time at all. It feels like it was this morning that Katherine asked me to write a blog post, but somehow that was on Monday, and today is Thursday, and my deadline is tomorrow.

Right now, LSM is a massive part of my life. I'm thankful for the religious aspect of it as well. The camp isn't about Lutheran beliefs so much as the integration of music and Christian worship. A lot of good music is designed for use by the Church, and the camp understands that. LSM plays host to more than 50 musical events over the course of 4 weeks, all of which are open to the community of Decorah, IA at the best price there is—that is, none at all.

A big thanks to Katherine, for the opportunity to express myself, and a bigger thanks to LSM, for giving me something to express.


Subscribe to RSS - blogs