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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.




Now Returning to Our Regularly Scheduled Programming

June 23, 2015

As Gordon MacRae sang in 1955's Oklahoma, "Oh what a beautiful morning!" One would hardly believe we are looking at clear skies and a high of 78 today in the Decorah area when yesterday's booming thunder and crashing lighting delayed our official start to the LSM season. Staff transported instruments and students safely to Jenson-Noble Recital Hall for the first morning of announcements after the storm had passed where students had their first glimpse of "Luther's Morning Prayer." While this piece was only written in 2009, the significance of this work lies in its composer. Carl Schalk was one of Lutheran Summer Music's creators and a member of the team we refer to as the "founding fathers."  He, along with Paul Bouman and Carlos Messerli, first unpacked their music bags in 1981 and, as the saying goes, the rest was history. "Luther's Morning Prayer" is not only a reminder of our gratitude and trust in God's strength in our lives, but also a reminder about our roots. In starting our 34th summer together, there is excitement about new music and renewel in community that seems to pick up where we left off last July. 

Last night, students had a chance to "ooh" and "aah" over the talents of their faculty members at our first faculty recital. Heather Armstrong led with a 7-movement piece on oboe, musically painting a story between two birds. Hannah Leffler hypnotized her audience via flute in a beautiful duet with Cheryl Lemmons on piano. George Hogan created laughter in the audience with his robust rendition of "Jonah and the Whale," while Cole Burger played a modernized version of a Bach sonatina. Paul Morton, trumpet, and Bruce Atwell, horn, ended the evening with "Point/Counterpoint," which tested every musician in their ability to count rhythm. The talents of the faculty was nothing short of engaging, entertaining, and a wonderful ending to a gloomy, booming morning.

Today is the start of our regularly scheduled programming. Auditions are done. Small ensembles (smambles!) placements are assigned, and students are navigating gracefully around campus at a rapid rate. Giggles and building friendship can be observed throughout the residence halls and commuting between buildings and classes. The LSM 2015 family bonding has begun!

Photo Blast Monday: Registration Day!

June 22, 2015

Registration day was upon us yesterday and we are so thrilled all the students made it safely to campus. Blue skies, mild temperatures, and low humidity accompanied about half of our students from Minneapolis to Decorah while the others came trickling in hours before. After everyone had unpacked and settled into their rooms, students, faculty, staff, and our chaplain, Rev. Michael Costello, gathered in the Center for Faith and Life for the first evening prayer service of LSM 2015. A pick-up choir sang a solemn anthem while Rev. Costello delivered a warm message about the presence of God in the music we will create here at LSM. It was a powerful and heartfelt beginning of this year's summer; we are all thrilled and excited to see our students grow and thrive as individuals and musicians in the coming weeks. Check back to see what else we have in store for the week!

A Note from our Dean of Students Mark Tegtmeier

June 18th, 2015

LSM is almost here!  For those of you nervous about attending LSM for the first time, be excited!  For those of you returning, get ready for another fantastic summer.  I was once one of those nervous first-time campers, but quickly found myself among the most supportive people I ever met and we became family.  While you will be pushed to perform your best, I’m here to support your growth both musically and spiritually. 

I’m looking forward to getting to know each student through rehearsal times, worship, and dorm time. Our team of counselors have been cooking up some wonderful activities; there will be something for everyone!  So get ready to bring your best to camp, because we will be ready for you!

A Message from our Academy Director Peter Wessler

Tuesday, June 16, 2015:

It’s ZERO WEEK at Lutheran Summer Music – the week when staff members arrive on campus to get everything ready for our students. Staff members are currently setting up offices and preparing orientation materials, schedules and facilities.  Counselors will be gathering tomorrow to begin planning social and recreational activities. Interns and faculty members will be here later this week to make final preparations for our students’ arrival and registration on Sunday. There is a real buzz in the air; the feelings of anticipation and excitement are palpable, and each person, whether a veteran or a “newbie,” has his or her own reasons for feeling that anticipation and excitement for the coming month. 

My own love affair with LSM began about 15 years ago, when my wife and I sent our oldest son, Jonathan, to camp for the first time as a voice and piano student. Within two days, he was “hooked.” He subsequently returned three more times as a student and then twice again as an intern. It was his experience with Lutheran Summer Music that inspired him to begin taking organ lessons. He now holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from the Eastman School of Music and works at St. Paul’s Church | Harvard Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Furthermore, a young lady he met as a fellow student during his second summer at LSM eventually became his wife! 

It was Jonathan’s life-changing experience at LSM that inspired me to inquire about a position on the summer staff. As a high school orchestra director, I was available in the summer, and using part of my vacation to give back to a program that had done so much for our family just seemed like the right thing to do. LSM happened to be looking for a summer academy director that year, and I joined the staff. That was in 2003.

I retired from my teaching job two years ago, but I have not retired from Lutheran Summer Music. Frankly, I cannot imagine a summer without LSM. What is it that keeps me coming back? It’s more than the great music and wonderful worship; it’s the people. I get to work with some absolutely amazing people, who do incredible things with some awesome young people – and it’s my job to be behind the scenes, putting the pieces together to help make those things happen. And this year, the added bonus is that Jonathan will be serving with us on the staff as our worship assistant! 

Students, we are getting everything ready for you right now, and we can’t wait for you all to get here! See you soon!



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