St. Helens' performance of regional composer's requiem set for March 23

by: SUBMITTED PHOTO - The Columbia Chorale singers perform 'Lux Aeterna' Saturday night in St. Helens.

The Columbia Chorale is teaming up with the North Coast Chorale out of Astoria for a joint performance of Pacific Northwest composer Morten Lauridsen’s “Lux Aeterna.”

“This piece was written as a memorial to the composer’s mother when she was dying, as in the form of a requiem,” explains Jan Stites, a Columbia Chorale board member and performer. “But it doesn’t have a dark side. It’s all about hope and giving thanks for the promises God has given, or that we get in our lives.”

“Lux Aeterna” is a Latin phrase translated as Eternal Light. Stites said Lauridsen had been invited to

attend the performances, though he is still engaged in a teaching role as professor of composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music. He maintains a summer residence on the Washington Coast.

“Lux Aeterna” is the Columbia Chorale’s first official joint performance with the North Coast Chorale, though members from the two groups have occasionally participated in previous endeavors with their neighboring counterparts.

The first performance is Friday in Astoria, at which Dr. Denise Lee of the North Coast Chorale will direct. On Saturday, the Colubmia Chorale’s AJ Wong will direct the performance occurring at the First United Methodist Church in St. Helens. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

Stites said it was enlightening to absorb the meaning of the words presented in “Lux Aeterna,” and said it has been a learning experience interpreting the performance through the instruction of two directors.

“Listening to each of those directors’ nuances and interpretation of different spots in the music has been really educational. It allows those of us who are performing to sort of creep inside the edges of their minds and figure out how they’re responding to the music,” she said. “It’s been really quite exciting.”

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