During our Sing To Inspire: Choral Giants, Farewell episode, I challenged us all to bring the giants the roses while they lived. So after that declaration, it seemed fitting that we create a tribute feature on one those living giants.
After taking a trip to Concordia College a few weeks ago, it was clear that Dr. René Clausen, world-renowned composer and conductor, has a magical way of connecting with singers. I immediately picked up the phone, and called Dr. Matthew Culloton, artistic director of The Singers - Minnesota Choral Artists and one of Clausen's former students, to interview him about René Clausen's influence on his career.
Matthew began as one would expect, singing praises about Clausen's artistry, attention to detail, and an extraordinary ability to get singers to connect with the music. Ten minutes into our interview, Matthew recalled a recent musical experience he had shared with Dr. Clausen and then the entire focus of the interview took a very unexpected turn. He played me an audio excerpt from a community sing led by René Clausen that The Singers organized in February. During this community sing, Clausen was asked to lead a group of strangers through five of his choral works. He read, he stopped, he rehearsed and then he arrived at one of his most beloved compositions, Set Me As A Seal.
After Dr. Clausen had shared the deeply personal story about how this composition had come to be, there wasn't a dry eye in the audience. Clausen wasn't trying to elicit an emotional reaction from the singers, but through choral music, his story resonated with those people in a way that they will never forget. Even if for just three minutes, Rene Clausen and that group of strangers were united in body, mind, spirit, and voice. After they completed the song, a long, powerful silence hung in the air. He gazed out over the room and said, "next piece."
To hear the complete story about René Clausen's Set Me As A Seal in this week's episode of Sing to Inspire, click the audio player above.
#SingToInspire Performance of the Week
Set Me As A Seal - René Clausen
The Singers - Minnesota Choral Artists, performer
Matthew Culloton, conductor
#SingToInspire Picture of the Week
#SingToInspire Video of the Week
The Concordia Choir - thou risest (Jens Klimek)
#TBT: Kicked it at the The Concordia Choir rehearsal last week and I simply couldn't believe what I was hearing. They have only had a few rehearsals this year... You have to check out this ridiculously awesome clip from René Clausen's rehearsal last week. #SingToInspirePosted by Choral Music from Classical MPR on Thursday, September 24, 2015