Q. Why was this Lutheran choir formed for high school youth?
To the best of our knowledge, no such choir of this international scope, solely for high school age youth, sponsored by a Lutheran congregation, exists within any Lutheran church body in North America. Other Lutheran organizations offer fine musical opportunities for youth that either extend beyond the realm of only choral music or are primarily residential experiences without a significant touring component. Other church bodies in the U.S. and Canada, such as the Roman Catholic Church, already have a National Youth Choir, but not we Lutherans.
The Lutheran Youth Choir offers young people a challenging, stimulating opportunity to encounter the greatest choral music of both the Lutheran heritage and of the Americas in which they live, in a safe, nurturing and fun environment each summer. We are looking for young people who have the necessary commitment, creativity and energy to bring a powerful message of faith, through music, to all who desire and need to hear it, on this continent and abroad.
Q: What kind of music will the choir sing?
The Lutheran Youth Choir rehearses and performs primarily outstanding sacred choral literature from the 16th through the 21st centuries.
Q: What makes this such a valuable and meaningful experience?
Our long Lutheran musical tradition is unique, and the relationship between music and theology is powerful. There are few opportunities today for students to learn and experience these traditions, and this is what we offer. Moreover, coming together with other singers, learning excellent music, having fun together, and sharing faith with new friends in new places is a life-changing experience.
Q: Do students have to be Lutheran to apply?
No. But we expect applicants to provide letters of recommendation as we want students who are serious about their faith and music.
Q: Who directs the Lutheran Youth Choir?
Philip Spencer is the Lutheran Youth Choir’s founding conductor and a member of its board of directors. He conceived of the idea for a pan-Lutheran youth choir drawing participants from throughout North America.
Mr. Spencer has more than three decades of experience conducting choirs of all ages in college, church and community settings. He is Professor of Music and Director of Choral and Vocal Music at Joliet Junior College.
Q: Where do students stay during the rehearsal week?
In alternating years, the choir will live in the western suburbs of Chicago near Glen Ellyn, Illinois, or at Schloss Mansfeld in Germany.
Q: Who will chaperone the tour?
Adult supervision will be present 24/7.
Q: Where has the choir visited and performed on tour?
In 2013, the American and German singers returned to Schloss Mansfeld to live and rehearse for ten days together at the end of July. They took the worship service “Evening Prayer for Peace”, composed by the choir’s Founding Conductor, Philip Spencer, augmented with other American sacred choral music from the 18th through the 21 centuries, to churches in Spandau, Erfurt, Eisenach, Kloster Mansfeld, and the historic Kaiser-Wilhelm Memorial Church in the center of Berlin. The choir also partnered in concert with an adult gospel choir in Eisenach, and sang at a senior citizen residence in Mansfeld. The students also toured a number of historic Bach and Luther sites, including the Wartburg Castle, St. Thomas Church in Leipzig, the Bach House in Eisenach, as well as a WWII work camp and the Reichstag, the home of the German parliament, in Berlin.
In 2012, the Lutheran Youth Choir performed sacred music from throughout the world in the Chicagoland and Quad Cities areas of Illinois and Iowa as part of its 2012 Festival of Global Vocal Music. This included singing in seven different world languages and the use of some global percussion instruments. In addition, the choir hosted a Gospel Music Workshop led by Dr. Keith Hampton, noted Chicago composer and conductor.
In the summer of 2011, the choir stayed for one week in a restored medieval castle near Eisleben, Germany, learning and performing a variety of American sacred and secular vocal music together with German students.
In July 2008, the Lutheran Youth Choir sang twice in the Chicago area (Evanston and Glen Ellyn) before traveling to Germany for its nine-day tour of Berlin, Eisleben, Wittenberg, Eisenach, Munich, and Heidelberg. The choir sang a new Evening Prayer for Peace service in German and English, composed by its director, for host congregations, as well as visiting several historic Luther and Bach sites.
In August 2007 the choir made an eight-day tour of the Pacific Northwest, singing Evening Prayer at six Lutheran churches in Oregon, Washington, and British Columbia, and visiting Pacific Lutheran University overnight. Immediately upon returning from tour, the Lutheran Youth Choir was invited to sing at the Opening Eucharist of the ELCA’s Worship Jubilee at Navy Pier in Chicago.
In July 2006, the Lutheran Youth Choir took its inaugural six-day tour of the Great Lakes Region, singing Evening Prayer at four Lutheran congregations in Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Ontario, as well as visiting Valparaiso University.
Q: How much free time will choir members have?
This is a music ministry, not a vacation. There may be some free time in the afternoon depending on the schedule; but students should plan to commit themselves to long days of work and fun together as a group.
Q: What is the process for registration and tuition payment, and is financial aid available?
Tuition assistance will be available based upon the situation. If students need financial help, they may apply after being selected for the choir. Although there are no guarantees for such aid, we will do our best to accommodate everyone in need though a combination of congregational, parental and choir resources.
Q: What expenses are covered by the choir? Do choir members need to bring spending money?
The program participation fee includes lodging, meals, music, special events, and tour transportation (plane and coach). Students should plan to bring extra spending money; we will address safe ways of handling money as tour approaches.