If you are a lover of choral music, then you must be acquainted with Morten Lauridsen’s (1943) gorgeous, soulful work. This month we are looking at modern-day composers and their work. Today, let’s explore the moving music of this west-coast based composer.
A recipient of the National Medal of Arts in 2007 and a long-time professor at the USC Thornton School of Music, Lauridsen worked as a Forest Service firefighter and lookout near Mt. St. Helens prior to his decision to study composition at USC. When not teaching, Lauridsen spends his summers on Waldron Island off the coast of Washington state in the San Juan Archipelago. He enjoys a simple life there in his home that is a converted general store purchased in 1975. At that time, he brought a $50 piano with him over in a boat. It was on this piano that he has written some of his masterpieces! Lauridsen loves the sea and the serenity that he gets during his time on Waldron Island. It’s these moments of quiet contemplation that provide what he needs to write the beautiful, peaceful music that so many of his listeners enjoy.
Lauridsen is quite diverse in his approach to composition. While some of his works are more traditional with references to Gregorian chant or Renaissance music, other pieces sound more contemporary and have atonal elements. He loves setting texts to music and especially enjoys writing cycles on universal themes.
Below you can listen to one of his more famous, traditional pieces, Lux Aeterna (1997). This piece was written for the LA Master Chorale and Paul Salamunovich. The texts come from different Latin sources, all referring to Light.
What are your thoughts? Does this music move you?