When The Concordia Choir takes the stage at Brainerd’s Tornstrom Auditorium Feb. 14, the hall will be very familiar to two choir members and their conductor.
Wyatt Steinke '17 and Naomi Swanson '17, both Brainerd (Minn.) High School graduates, will be singing for their hometown. Michael Smith, who taught in Brainerd schools for 25 years, is the guest conductor of The Concordia Choir, filling in for Dr. René Clausen during his sabbatical year.
The Brainerd-Concordia connections don’t stop there.
When Smith left his Brainerd choral conducting position in 2006, Brian Stubbs, a 1988 Concordia graduate, took over the program.
“Brainerd has always been very supportive of music. Perhaps it’s something in the water,” Smith jokes. “They develop good musicians.”
The Brainerd concert is part of The Concordia Choir’s national tour, which will take them to the southeastern United States. The national tour program ranges from J.S. Bach to Edvard Grieg and includes spirituals and hymns, a cappella and accompanied works, and several selections by Eastern European composers.
Ēriks Ešenvald’s composition “Stars” simulates the music of the spheres by using water-tuned wine glasses as accompaniment. “Curse Upon Iron,” sung in Estonian and composed by Veljo Tormis, combines folk melodies and contemporary choral techniques to connect the ancient past with the present as it warns of the dangers of war.
“I can’t wait to show my friends and family what I do here at Concordia,” Steinke says. “I know a number of people who are going to the concert, and I am so excited for them to hear the music we’ve been preparing.”