High school students in the Minnesota All-State Lutheran Choir (MASLC) have made Concordia their home for a week in June as they prepare for eight performances across Minnesota.
During their time on campus, they’ve been rehearsing and discussing faith and the religious backgrounds of the music they will be performing. Students in 10th-12th grade from Minnesota, North Dakota, and Mississippi gather each morning for Sung Morning Prayer in the Centrum followed by sectional community time and rehearsals.
At the end of each day, everyone gathers together for an evening service of Compline, a 12- to 15-minute evening experience where students discuss the highs and lows of their day. Camp Chaplain Simon Fensom, senior pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead, leads discussions of scripture relevant to the lives of the young students.
Diamond Tello of Paynesville, Minn., has appreciated all the opportunities the MASLC has to offer.
“Being able to sing gospels, get involved with the church, and have a pastor come speak with us has been very meaningful and different from what I was expecting,” Tello said.
Dr. Michael Culloton, artistic director and conductor, sees the unique opportunities presented by the choir experience emphasizing the opportunity for young students to share a dialogue with one another.
“We can openly discuss issues of faith and spirituality and do that in the context of the musical background,” Culloton said.
The Minnesota All-State Lutheran Choir was founded in 1969 by Mark Aamot. The choir developed from the concept of providing young students with the opportunity to grow deeper in their faith and share their spiritual experience with congregations on tour.
While looking to create new traditions as Concordia becomes the new home to the MASLC, Culloton has been mindful of the long-standing traditions that have been practiced by the choir for many years.
One long-standing tradition with a powerful impact is the hymn sing performed at each church, where students disperse and join the congregation in the singing of hymns together. It’s an experience witnessed by Culloton as a member of a congregation, and now as conductor of the choir.
“It really introduces young people to some of the old standard favorite hymn tunes, but it also allows audience members to feel the joy and shared mission of singing these hymn tunes with students side by side,” Culloton said.
The choir begins its eight-day tour of Minnesota at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead on June 16.