Christmas at Luther

I’m perplexed at how to attempt this blog. Putting the feelings of music into words is one of the most difficult things, and this week was all music.
    Let me just offer you some numbers quickly, if you have never attended a Christmas at Luther celebration. Six choirs, one symphony orchestra, one bell choir, six conductors, 600 musicians, five performances and 8,000 audience members. Now, immediately upon return to campus from Thanksgiving Break, I and those 600 musicians trekked over to the Center for Faith and Life (CFL) for our first mass rehearsal. I had heard of what an intimidating and hectic week of rehearsals this would be, so I was mentally preparing for the task ahead. Though the rehearsals were long (running each about three hours), I can’t complain, considering I’m the cellist who gets to sit and relax, not run around in a choir robe. From the first rehearsal, I knew that this week was going to be the best week in my music career, and was going to be filled with the most inspiring musical moments I’ve experienced. It’s incredible to literally be surrounded by 500 swirling voices and sound, a kind of cocoon of music. The conductors gave many pep talks, so to speak, throughout the week. Dr. Sandra Peter said that it was our job to “Be Extraordinary,” while Dr. Hightower reminded everyone to “Glow.” Dr. Baldwin, being the classy gent that he is, continued LCSO’s ritual of pre-show “Get some!” chanting. I’ve ceased attempting to define, “Get some!” It’s simply understood that you will give and receive something when playing music.
    After my (last!) Paideia paper was turned in on Wednesday, I engaged in full ‘Christmas at Luther’ mode. Thursday night’s performance came with a completely full house. I’ve always felt that as a musician, I should share my music, and considered it a privilege to give music to people. I’m sorry if that sounds the least bit corny (not cheesy, I’m in Iowa, not Wisconsin), but I mean it. Music doesn’t exist if you don’t share it. Thursday was simply magical. I laughed, I almost cried and I was moved so many times. I’m sure it was a different experience for everyone involved, but for me it rekindled my passion for music.
    Friday was exciting not only because we had two performances that evening but because my family came for the weekend. If you remember from my last blog, I didn’t go home for Thanksgiving, so when we went to the Peace Brunch before the performance, it was like a mini-Thanksgiving, lutefisk included! No worries, I didn’t actually eat any despite the urging of my grandma. I had a good portion of lefse instead! I was also able to show my family the campus and sweet ol’ Decorah, complete with snow by the time they arrived! For the two performances that evening I spent about 6 hours in the CFL, yet it was not monotonous to do shows back-to-back because the beauty of music is that it’s different each time.
    Saturday was spent with my family (of course) though I was dragging from the marathon of performances and the 2 AM fire alarm somebody decided to pull. That is the only time I’ve regretted the snow. The afternoon was spent drifting in and out of sleep, which I considered preparation for that evening’s performance. Saturday’s performance was a little nerve-wracking only because I didn’t want to be disappointed by it’s possible lack of spark that the first performances had. I quickly found that I worried for nothing. Saturday’s performance, to the fourth full house, was spectacular.
    Sunday opened with church with my family who then hit the road back to the airport. The Sunday matinee performance was bittersweet. The music was still gorgeous, but by this performance there was a mixed feeling of, “Thank goodness we’re done,” and, “I wanna do it again!” Any good thing has to end, and Christmas at Luther falls into that category.
    I’m beginning this week with the Christmas at Luther after-glow, a state of peace that will hopefully get me through finals and last until my next big musical adventure, Vienna.

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