LSM Blog

Week 3: What?!

July 7, 2015 After a relaxing 4th of July weekend, during which the students were able to see a production of The Music Man in Minneapolis, Week 3 has officially started. Students have been diligently practicing at the request(s) of their instructors and their ensembles are coming together gracefully. We are nothing short of ready for a fantastic festival week starting next Monday. 

Sunday and Monday night brought to the spotlight our faculty chamber ensembles. Movēre woodwind quintet painted a fun, light-hearted picture of the Tortouise and the Hare and Chialing Hsieh joined them for an incredible ending with a Sextet in B-flat Major. The unique instrumental combination was an inspirational start to a week of faculty chamber ensemble recitals.

Monday evening brought a 6-person choir of angels, whose voices ranged from low, low bass to coloratura soprano. Their classy dress and comprehensively beautiful repetoire were received with a standing ovation. It was clear by the end that students were awe-struck by the talent and capability of their teachers. This feeds directly back into their own practicing while they prepare to perform in a way that some never have. 

Tonight, the Omega String Quartet will be gracing us with their selections. Praetorius brass ensemble will be waiting in the wings to perform on Thursday. We are so blessed with an amazing crew of talented, supportive, and kind-spirited faculty. Many thanks to your presence for our students.

Photo Blast Monday: Mystery Weekend

July 6, 2015

Students and staff hopped on a charter bus to Minneapolis, MN this past weekend to see *drum roll please* The Music Man!!  Photography inside the theater was mostly prohibited, but there are plenty of photos below in our weekly photo blast of students having fun on the lawn before the show. Face painting and fresh air were the themes of their afternoon as they waited for lunch.

We hope to get more photos uploaded to various platforms in the coming weeks. Stay tuned!

Today's blog is brought to you by Hannah Tassler

July 3, 2015

My name is Hannah Tassler, a first year student at LSM, studying flute and tenor saxophone.

Some of my favorite things at LSM are the people, music, and environment. I am from Colorado, and coming to Decorah, Iowa has been a new experience that I've enjoyed. Events such as dorm devos and recitals have been different and exciting. Also, my music teachers at LSM have helped me become a better musician within the first week! I have been able to practice at least two hours every day which has improved my musical abilities, too. Along with practicing individual pieces, I have been able to work in an ensemble, the band, and the orchestra. There are so many opportunities at LSM to become a better musician and person. When I first arrived at LSM, I was immediately greeted by counselors and everyone made me feel welcome as if I was a returning student. The students and faculty at LSM have been kind, helpful, and fun. LSM is not just about the music; it is also about growing in faith through music. We have evening and morning prayer, and Sunday worship. Things are better than I expected at LSM, it's like my home, with more music!

Before the student concerto recital, many people told me that at LSM, everyone was hoping I did my best in the performance. Walking on stage was scary at first, but I spotted my friends in the audience smiling and cheering me on. LSM has been so fun this past week and I can't wait for the next few weeks to come.  

A Brief Interlude from Chaplain Michael D. Costello

July 2, 2015

Today’s ODJ post comes from our chaplain, Rev. Michael D. Costello. Michael is an alumnus of Lutheran Summer Music (93’, 94’, 95, 96’), was an intern (98’ and 00’), and previously served as chaplain (10’).

Question: What are some of the goals you hope to accomplish in the spiritual community at LSM this summer?

As chaplain I hope that I am proclaiming the Good News of God in Jesus Christ and that the students are hearing that proclamation clearly through hymn singing, morning and evening prayer liturgies, preaching, and the mutual discussion that takes place among peers in dorm devotions. I want students to realize that their first vocation is the one that was given them in Holy Baptism; that is, they are children of God, a calling that supersedes all other callings in life. I think that these students realize that everything they do, particularly with regard to their craft as musicians, is to God’s glory. And what better what to communicate the Gospel than through music?

Question: What are some of the challenges you face as a spiritual leader in an environment where people are from so many backgrounds?

Answer: While students worship in different ways in their home congregations, they form a unique community during these four weeks. Students serve in a variety of capacities, from crucifer and usher to assisting minister and lector. Everyone is invited to take ownership in our worship life. While it is certainly true that we have a student body from so many backgrounds, most of them are coming from churches from within the Lutheran tradition. Thus, the challenges are overcome by what we share in common: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Question: As chaplain, what is one of your favorite parts of LSM?

Without a doubt my favorite thing about LSM is when we gather for Evening Prayer. There is something about closing the day with chanting, praying, singing hymns, and hearing the Word of God that puts everything else into perspective.

Question: How has LSM changed from when you were a student?

I really cannot believe how little the schedule has changed over the years. The primary difference, I think, is that more of the bumps in the road seem to be ironed out. Students are given more intentional recreation time and are encouraged to take care of themselves. I am incredibly impressed with how well the staff at Lutheran Summer Music balances the three primary priorities of Lutheran Faith, Excellent Music, and Intentional Community. These three intersect beautifully at LSM. What a wonderful model for living the rest of our lives!

Insights from first year LSMer Mallory Haney

July 1, 2015

Today's blog post is brought to you by Mallory Haney, a first-time resident within the LSM community. Her sweet disposition and incredible talent at the organ have been a blessing for us on campus. Below she speaks of her initial experiences at LSM:

Hello, my name is Mallory Haney and I am from Harrington, Maine. I am a senior in High School and I love to play the organ and sing.
This is my first year at LSM. At first I was really nervous and I did not know if I really wanted to come because it is far away from home. I did not know anybody that was coming and I thought it was going to be a competition between us as musicians, but it is the opposite. It is my second week here and I am enjoying every minute of it. Even while I am writing this blog, my new friends are keeping me company and we are having a good time.
My expectation before I came here was to learn more about music and have a wonderful experience next to others that have the same passion. But LSM is more than just learning about our primary instrument. It is about living together, sharing what we have in common, worshiping God, making new friends, and learning about our different cultures. A lot of people would ask me: Why would I spend a month in a music camp? It sounds so boring! But I do not regret being here. It is the perfect combination of music and fun! The program is really complete. We have a good breakfast to begin the day, then we all gather for Morning Prayer and Announcements of the Day. Later I have Musicianship, Small Ensemble, Church Music, Conducting, Concert Choir, Organ lesson, Practice time and Recreational Activities. The counselors and teachers gives us big responsibilities because we have to be prepared for every class and they give us the freedom to control our hours of practice.
Now that I have given you a glimpse into the life of an LSM student, I have to go to my next class!

If you would like to see some of the daily activities go online and visit #mylsm! (Facebook and Instagram)

Thank you, Mallory, for your wonderful words! We are so grateful to have you with us!

Week 2 is already here?

June 30, 2015

It seems that week one came in like a lion and out like a lamb. What started with thunderstorms and a temporary delay in our schedule soon ended with a group of connected students and incredibly blessed weather. Decorah is seeing steady 80s and sunshine this week with the occasional rain. As they say, the corn will be "knee high by the fourth of July!"

This past Sunday, students, faculty, and staff gathered for their first experience at a full LSM worship service. Traditionally during weekdays, we end with abendmusik and evening prayer. But during Sunday morning worship, we included traditional cantor and hymns. The chapel choir sang an anthem and the handbells rang beautifully throughout the CFL. What a beautiful first worship service. 

We have a week full of events for the LSM community. Tonight is students' first dorm devotion led by Rev. Michael Costello, preceeded by an evening of Musical Jeopardy and a Bach Cantata rehearsal. Faculty recitals, our first community "Hymn Sing" and the weekend mystery trip are all reasons students are antsy in their seats with excitement.  The LSM spirit is in full bloom! 

Stay tuned this week from student posts and a word from our chaplain!

Monday Photo Blast: Downtown Decorah Day!

June 30, 2015

Take a look at all the smiles we had from the past weekend of fun! Our group picture was taken, the students and staff spent an afternoon downtown Decorah visiting the local shops, and then headed home for pizza and "Into the Woods." Small ensembles (smembles) also met, and they are sounding GREAT with only a week under their belts. We are excited to see what they will unveil during festival week. 

First full weekend at LSM!

June 26, 2015

It has been a busy Week 1 at Luther College, and the weekend doesn't stop in the social, spiritual, and musical opportunities for both faculty and staff. Many of the students are scheduling their practice time, lesson time, and making their final decisions on which elective suits them best. Our program offers some wonderful additions to large ensembles including jazz improvisation, intro to pipe organ, handbells, and many more. There is something for every brand of student who attends!

Last night was the summer's first Lawn Chair Night, a downtown Decorah event that hosts local musicians. 

 Our Praetorius Brass ensemble delighted the crowds with Southern charm and jazz into the mid-evening. The weather was mild and perfect for an early summer concert. LSM and its community are blessed to have such fine musicians in their midst. You, dear reader, are welcome to join us for upcoming events on campus. Check out our calendar of events!

This weekend, students, faculty and staff will meet on the Luther campus hill for their group photo, meet with faculty for their electives and small ensembles (smambles!). They will also have a chance to explore downtown Decorah with the guidance of their counselors and other staff members. Not only will they get to experience the traditional Whippy Dip, but they will also have a chance to visit the local music shop, Kephart's, to pick out any curricular or extra-curricular related music.

Rest assured, this weekend will bring more laughs and friendship that have already been forming. See it for yourself when we post on Monday's photo blast!

From small hometown to small hometown: A word from Katrina Bernhard

June 25, 2015

Katrina Bernhard hails from Round Rock, Texas. She is as sweet as the Texas-sized donuts that are made in her hometown.  She is our Administrative and Stage Management intern and is here to experience LSM for the first time ever. Her bright and cheery disposition has been both an asset and a blessing in our office. Here are a few words from her personally about her initial thoughts in Decorah.


LSM Immersion: first time experience

Stepping off the plane in Rochester finally made it real for me. I was about to start my journey  at Lutheran Summer Music Academy. One of the staff members was waiting and waving with a huge smile on her face, ready to bring me to the beautiful town of Decorah, Iowa. Instantly, as soon as I arrived at Luther college I felt a sense of comfort. As I met the counselors I was instantly welcomed into this beautiful family. Ever since I was 5 years old, music has always been a part of my life. I am almost done with my bachelor’s degree in vocal performance, and I qualify as a music nerd. I heard of this program last year, when both my voice teacher and his wife started their first year teaching with LSM. Recently, I had been goi
ng through some struggles with my musical journey, being beat down and delayed by one circumstance or another. My voice teacher kept telling me after he found out I was given my internship position that I will feel so refreshed that this program will be good for my soul. Never have those words rung more true than they do today. I am only a week into my internship and I am already feeling revived. The community between the staff, teachers, counselors, and interns is such a positive and inviting place to be. Between morning and evening prayer services, you can hear people having fun in the practice rooms or rehearsal spaces. Hearing these rehearsals, being in these rehearsals, it is hard to believe that all of us just got here this past Sunday and have only been rehearsing since Tuesday. The amount of talent here is beyond what I could have even imagined. The best part of it all, however is how I feel like I am being welcomed home to a great big family reunion. Less than a week after meeting the other interns, I feel like we are all really good friends. We make it a point to help each other out if one of us needs it, always trying to help out and make sure that we are successful. This is a value I have noticed throughout the entire LSM community. As I continue on my journey here, I wake up more excited each day to see what Decorah and LSM has to bring me and I am planning my return already for next year.

Sipping Coffee with soprano Catherine McCord Larsen

June 24, 2015

Tonight's faculty recital includes soprano Catherine McCord Larsen. Her many years with us have been a gift and blessing in our rich community. Below is a brief Q&A about her own personal experience(s) at LSM and some of the background from which she hails. Please join us tonight at the Center for Faith & Life to see her and others perform. The recital begins at 7:30 p.m. Free admission.

How many years have you been at LSM? What is your favorite scheduled event at LSM and why?  

     This is my 12th summer at LSM.  It’s hard to believe my voice students from my first summer are now in their late twenties. Some of these individuals have kept in touch with me through the years and it’s rewarding to hear how they’ve used what they learned at LSM in their current professions.

     I have to say it’s the Bach Cantata. The students and faculty perform side by side with each other and there is a real sense of community, working together toward a common goal. Nothing compares with learning phrasing, articulation and ornamentation as when doing so next to a seasoned pro. In recent years we’ve performed an entire Bach Cantata with choir and orchestra in the middle of our LSM Sunday worship service, just like it was done in Bach’s time. However, our service doesn’t last for three hours like was the norm when Bach’s Cantatas were heard for the first time.

What is one of the your first memories of singing? How did you officially begin your studies in music?

     I remember singing often as a child, but one of my first memories of singing was being bundled up in a red winter coat and performing a solo in my fifth grade Christmas program. It was chilly that night so our teacher told all the students sing the concert with our coats on. I laugh at this now because I grew up in southern California.  What we considered chilly there was probably around 50 degrees. Fifth grade was also the year I began playing the flute as part of our Elementary School instrumental music program. My formal singing education didn’t begin until High School. I was a member of the mixed choir and our choral director, Gerald Olson, encouraged me to try out for the soprano solos in Handel’s “Messiah”  which we were performing at the time. I still have an old cassette of the aria “Rejoice Greatly” which was recorded a couple of weeks before my High School graduation. I sound so young! But listening to it keeps me humble!

Tell us about someone who was influential in your musical abilities and your direction in study.

     My first voice teacher, Richard Raub, heard my potential early on, especially with the music of Bach, and prompted me to audition for several professional singing ensembles including the Oregon Bach Festival.

     Another pivotal person in my formative years in college was Dr. Alejandro Planchart at U.C. Santa Barbara who introduced me to the music of Claudio Monteverdi, and under whose direction I performed several of the soprano solos in Monteverdi’s“1610 Vespers.” That piece literally changed my appreciation of music the first time I heard it.  Dr. Planchart knew this musical genre would suit my voice well and introduced me to vocal music of other greats like Rameau, Scarlatti and du Fay.

Who is one of your favorite singers of today and why?

     That is a tough question! There are so many wonderful singers in the world today singing different styles and genres. I have different favorites for all areas!

     However, if I were to name just one of my favorites, it would be the soprano, Dawn Upshaw.  She is a very versatile and innovative singer, shining in her performance of traditional repertoire and adventurous in giving new compositions a voice as well. I love the warmth of her tone and the elegance in her phrasing. She loves the nuance of text and sings with heart. Her performances never cease to move me.





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