Our Academy children sang at the Good Friday Chief Service at Lamb of God Lutheran Church this noon. You will find here a recording of them singing the fourth verse of Sing, My Tongue, the Glorious Battle.
A blessed rest to you all.
This Saturday, October 22, I will be singing with the Choral Arts Society of SE Wisconsin in their performance of the Monteverdi Marian Vespers of 1610. It has been a long time since I sang regularly with a top of the line choir, and so this is a welcome addition to my life here in Kenosha.
It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows us that music plays a pretty major role in the Peperkorn household. Kathryn and I basically met in choir in college. Our son, Richard, is named after our two favorite choir directors (Richard Resch and Edmund Martens). Music plays a central role in our lives at both church and at our academy and with opera. However, there is simply no replacing singing in a great choir.
I freely admit my trepidation at joining CAS. As a husband of Kathryn and father of four children, a pastor, and all around nerdy busyperson, the time commitment is somewhat crazy. Add to that the fact that I have a pretty difficult time not diving into things 116% or more. I have a tendency to get into something, go bananas with it, and then burn myself out.
But I think this is different. I don’t remember a fall when I have been more relaxed and less depressed. We are just as busy as usual, and there are plenty of causes for stress. But there is something about being able to spend one evening a week singing some of the greatest music ever written that revives the soul.
As a pastor who suffers from depression, I am very cognizant of the need to find outlets that are not church related, relaxing, and that will help to refresh and reengage. For me, this seems the perfect fit.
So thank you, Maestro Schatzman, for playing an important part in our lives. It’s insane, but that’s how musicians roll.
Last night we had our Spring Recital at Christ Lutheran Academy. Each fall (winter) and spring we typically have a recital to showcase the wonderful musical talent that our student body possesses. In a school of 29 students in grades 1-8, we have 24 piano students, plus viola, guitar, and I don’t even know what else! This is in addition to our choral program, which involves all our our students in many different ways.
This strong music program has played itself out academically at our schools at many levels. Music teaches discipline, learning to practice, intervals, it helps with mathematics, language, and learning how to focus on a task. Our music program not only involves piano and voice, but musicals (grades K-3 recently performed the Selfish Giant, see pic below), and even some dance!
In addition all of this, the spiritual benefits are myriad. How much singing is done in church, and how does God use music and song to carry the Gospel? It is hard to underestimate the spiritual benefits that a solid music program can have upon the individual and a congregation.
As a congregation my parish is known as a singing church. If you’ll allow me to brag just a little, I can throw nearly anything at them in terms of hymns or liturgy, and they will get it within a couple tries, and will probably learn to love it within half a dozen. There are a lot of reasons for that, but one of the big ones is that we have so many children at our church that attend our Academy and who learn music and hymnody every day. Every Sunday I can hear them singing, with these beautiful clear voices, teaching us adults what it means to sing to the Lord a new song (Ps. 98:1).
So who is the inspiration behind our fine music program? Really there are two people, although many others could be mentioned:
Monica Scholz (on the left) is our piano teacher. She comes in to CLA I think two days a week to teach nearly all of our students. Because of the flexibility of a multi-grade classroom, the students are able to take their piano lessons during the day, and make up their school work at another time. One less trip for the parents! (That can’t be bad.) Monica is also the music director and one of the organists at Messiah Lutheran Church, my congregation.
Kathryn Peperkorn (on the right) is our choir director. She comes to CLA for choir at least twice a week, but it often ends up being more than that. The choir sings at our two congregations (Messiah and Lamb of God) roughly once a month, so that CLA will sing at each parish about three or four times during the academic year. The CLA choir will also sing for special services such as Epiphany and Ascension. Kathryn, a voice teacher and professional singer, is also the artistic director for SEWPA, SouthEast Wisconsin Performing Arts.
While these two people serve as the anchor for our music program, there are other people and places that contribute as well. Elyse Ahlgrimm is our kindergarten teacher, but she is also the organist and choir director at Grace Lutheran Church in Racine. We are also blessed with the wonderful acoustics at Lamb of God Lutheran Church, where Christ Lutheran Academy resides.
This week we are learning LSB 942, Kyrie, God Father in Heav’n Above. The children know it already, their parents will learn it, and our congregations will learn it as well, thanks to all these wonderful people and places who make music such a big part of our lives.
Happy Cantate Week! Sing to the Lord a New Song!
-Pastor Todd Peperkorn
Originally posted at Christ Lutheran Academy
This has been a very different summer for me. For many of my summers over the past ten years, I spent it with Higher Things, either preparing for or recovering from our liturgical youth conferences.
But this summer was dedicated to my wife’s endeavors.
Opera ala Carte finished it’s fourth season this past weekend. I will be posting a bunch of pictures here shortly, but I wanted to reflect on it a little bit before doing so. I had a fairly minor role in one of the operas (Alcindoro in La Boheme), so I got to see all of this from the inside. That has really given me a different perspective on the whole matter. I’ve always been involved with OAC in one fashion or another, but this summer was a much greater level of involvement.
It was a special treat for me to be able to see my wife in action, doing one of the things she does best. Now I am bias. I freely admit it. But my wife is truly amazing. She put on basically five operas in two weekends. Yes, it’s more than a little crazy. But it was GREAT! There were about 70 performers involved between the elementary and high school/college components, and I can’t even begin to count how many people involving in costumes, sets, programs, marketing, and heaven knows how much more that I can’t even begin to count.
I think what has struck me the most about all of this is the level of commitment that the students and young people have to doing this well. Opera is hardly mainstream anymore. It is viewed as elitist music that is out of touch with contemporary culture. Bah. What do they know? Opera is rich music, an incredible discipline that teaches singing, acting, and I don’t even know what else. So to see this group of young people (some of them as young as 7th grade), committing to this, well, it’s just a great thing.
I will comment on individual shows in the posts to come.