Night of Miracles… Joy Comes in the Morning… Friends… It’s Cool in the Furnace… Celebrate Life… and the list could go on. Hopefully, you’re acquainted with or have experienced first-hand some or all of these now-classic musicals written by giants of church music. In my personal experience, the musical, or cantata, played a major role in my development as a church musician, writer, and then publisher.
Standing in the St. Matthew Lutheran Church in Hanover, Pennsylvania, it is not difficult to see how the beauty of religious devotion can inspire someone like Lloyd Larson to create such splendid choral pieces. Indeed, Larson considers himself a product of the church his family attended while growing up in Illinois.
No discussion of sacred and church choral music is complete without including the works of composer Joel Raney. Raney’s contribution to sacred music is widely celebrated by choir members and directors. His career has ranged from national tours of Broadway productions, to sacred cantatas, to TV and radio commercial jingles.
Dan Forrest is a man who believes “all good things, including any beauty that we encounter, are from God, through God, and ultimately to God.” It is from this basis that he has made his career as a composer. During his early days at Bob Jones University pursuing piano performance, Forrest’s love of composition began to become apparent. He found that, to him, nothing compared to the sounds and musical dynamics of a choir.
On the cusp of 40, Paul Mealor has already built a legacy of musical excellence. His journey started at the young age of 10 when he began learning from teacher and composer William Mathias. Mathias is probably best known for composing an anthem specifically for the wedding ceremony of Prince Charles and Lady Diana in 1981.
Kim André Arnesen is one of today’s most promising young choral composers. As a child growing up in Norway, Arnesen developed a love for choral music after joining the Boys’ Choir at Nidaros Cathedral in Trondheim. An accomplished pianist as well, he found himself most drawn to requiems, especially Mozart’s. It was in listening to these classics that Arnesen first wondered if he himself could also write music.
Known to be one of the most versatile composers and arrangers of our time, Mark Hayes is popular with both worship and secular choirs. He bridges the gap between style and content, making his music accessible to anyone who loves to sing. No doubt, his ability to write songs that appeal to the identities of many different choirs is what has made him one of the most widely performed contemporary composers.
Joseph Martin is one of the most influential composers in sacred music today. His music has graced countless congregations and led many to consider with awe the glory of creation. From a very young age, this was his mission. Martin grew up in North Carolina, the son of a minister and a church pianist. Music and faith blended together for him from the very beginning of his life.
As part of our ongoing series of interviews, Pepper had the opportunity to sit down with arranger and composer Heather Sorenson. A church pianist since the age of 7, Heather has lived in the midst of sacred music for her entire life.
Pepper’s own Rocco Richardson had a chance to speak to Scott Fredericks, minister of music at St. Matthew Lutheran about their famous Austin organ, the eighth largest organ in the world. Enjoy!