The Wartburg College Choir, Music, Manchester, Mary and other Hodgepodge

Music is the common element of the human condition. Every tribe and culture on earth makes some form of music. Why? I’m convinced it’s because music touches mankind at every level. I’m a proponent that the Bible teaches that man is created in three distinct parts: body, soul & spirit.

When the music starts, the body responds by toes a’tapping, feet a’dancing, hands a’clapping, faces smiling. The soul (all the intangible things that make you, …well, you – your personality, thoughts, decisions) reacts with joy, or sorrow, and/or wonder. And the spirit… Well, let’s just say that music unleashes the spirit to soar. Music is the heart of worship, and is a conduit whereby our spirits actually join with the spirit of God and the spirits of His heavenly host. At least that’s my theory.

Last Thursday night I had the opportunity to listen to the fabulous Wartburg College Choir at Bethany Lutheran Church near my home in Denver, Colorado. I tell you spirits were soaring – both those of the gifted performers and those in attendance. The musicianship and virtuosity of the choir, the percussion and stringed accompanists and the director were more than remarkable. It was an incredibly impressive performance of challenging music, mostly a cappella, and very moving. I love to sing, and am a reasonably accomplished singer who has been in a variety of choirs – some select – but I think the ability and discipline required to be a member of the Wartburg Choir far exceeds my own. I’m in awe. I’m also encouraged. I’m encouraged that a new generation of young people is keeping alive the traditions of classical choral music.

I had the occasion to enjoy the concert and to catch up with Mary Kay Dailey, another Wartburg grad. Mary is such an impressive and accomplished person. She was a member of the Wartburg Choir when Dr. James Fritschel was director and sang with Dr. Paul Torkelson when Paul was an undergraduate at Wartburg. She has had a long and distinguished career in Denver as a secondary education leader.

Here’s another impressive thing: four of the vocalists are from my tiny hometown of Manchester, Iowa! I met and chatted with Hannah Crumpton, Ben Engelken, and Myles Finn after the concert. (I didn’t get to meet Teri Mueller, but here’s a shout out to her, too.) Myles, in particular, had a special role in the concert. I must say I’m proud that my little town can develop such talented – and nice – kids. Boo-yah!

I always feature music in my books. The theme song in comes from Nature Boy popularized by Nat King Cole. The key lyrics: “The greatest thing you’ll ever learn, is just to love… and be loved in return.”

My latest book, Suicide Squeeze, features a protagonist who, as the nephew of the great American songwriter Johnny Mercer, can play all of Johnny Mercer’s 1,500 songs and little else. Major plot points turn as a result of this quirky talent.

Whew, enough for today.

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