Young Musicians Inspiring

Thursday, January 3, 2013

It seems that every generation comes forth on occasion with a "young people today" sigh of concern when observing the work ethic and behavioral patterns of those traveling road behind them.

As an official card-carrying member of the Baby Boomers, I confess I've been known to make a comment or two about the "younger generation" from time to time. But, let's be honest, there is no question The Greatest Generation sometimes followed that same script where we were concerned.

"Where will it all end?" and "what's going to become of our world?" are the types of questions asked as we shake our heads in a self-assured "wise" manner.

To be candid, sometimes it seems as though there is truth in these observations. A dedication to excellence in work and achievement often appears to be slipping away.

But occasionally we see or experience an event involving "those young people" that restores our spirit and gives us confidence that all will be well in the future.

Such was the case the other night when we were watching our new HD television (last people in American to get one, I think) and tuned in to the "Christmas at Luther" holiday concert. It was an hour-long special featuring the combined choirs and orchestra at Luther College in Decorah, Ia.

A bit of research led us to understand the college has about 2,500 students and is located in a small town in northeastern Iowa. Approximately 20 percent of the students are music majors but closer to 50 percent participate in some form of musical performance. The school mascot is Norse, reflecting the Norwegian heritage of the area and college.

We have seen similar concerts at Christmastime from Belmont University in Nashville and St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn.

The musical ability of these students at Luther is amazing and the look on their wholesome faces and the overall level of the presentation was amazing. Watching this concert did indeed go a long way in making us feel better about the future -- and it also added immeasurably to our enjoyment of the Christmas season.

For some time now I have been trying to identify and claim a favorite Christmas carol or song. My father's was "White Christmas", my mother's "I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day" and my wife's is "I'll Be Home for Christmas". All great choices, but I never could decide on mine.

That changed during the Luther concert as the young musicians exchanged candlelight while singing "In the Bleak Mid-Winter," lyrics coming from a work by Italian poet Christina Rossetti. I have now found my favorite carol.

Imagine my surprise and anticipation one night later when I looked the on the program at the Christmas Eve service at our church and saw that our choir director had selected that seldom-sung carol as her special for the evening.

The beautiful Luther concert and our own inspiring Christmas Eve candlelight service and communion (largest attendance of the year) gave us the correct focus for what is true and real in this special time of year.

--REK