the band and our field of music-making, and we’re always interested in expanding our repertoire.” While the Lutheran schools have discussed working

together before, Mahr said this is the first time. Contribut ing between $250 to $750 each, the

participating schools all chipped in to pay for “this is most certainly true.” This type of crowdsourcing has a historical precedent in music circles, said Mahr, adding, “Composers from 100 years ago were approached by three or four orchestras to write a piece.” The per formances are for both campus and

community audiences. Miranda Aldrich, an oboe student at Carthage, was

excited to perform “this is most certainly true” at the school’s Sept. 30 concert. “Overall, I think I can speak for the Wind Orchestra

when I say that we couldn’t wait to premiere this piece and to work with James Stephenson to bring ‘this is most certainly true’ to life,” she said. “The nuances he has put into this work to pay homage to Martin Luther and the Reformation—the 95 chime strokes to represent the 95 Theses and the big hammer hit to represent Martin Luther nailing the 95 Theses to the church door—are so exciting to play.” Stephenson used chimes and the hammer to

programmatically depict Luther’s struggles and actions. For the program note, he wrote: “The piece first opens with a mystical medieval setting, setting up space for the opening Martin Luther theme. One might imagine an isolated Luther (low clarinet measure) quietly getting angry about the way things are going with the religious practices around him—namely the selling of indulgences in return for the forgiveness of sins—and that his frustration builds until, finally, he nails the 95 Theses to the door. “After this, the work grows quiet again—but only

briefly, as his rebellion gathers followers and grows in strength and numbers, bringing us into the present day of celebrating 500 years. Finally, the piece removes all dissonance and ends in the key of B-flat, with the last of 95 chime strokes.” Even without words, the music is powerful, Mahr said.

“Sometimes music has a way of speaking to a listener in such a way to convey a new level of understanding on a subject without words getting in the way,” he said. “Listeners will confront the story of the Reformation deeply within themselves—a unique and powerful way for Lutherans to take on thinking about the Reformation for the 500th anniversary.”


Wendy Healy is a freelance writer and member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Brewster, N.Y.

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Participating colleges:

Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill. Augustana University, Sioux Falls, S.D. Augsburg College, Minneapolis Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan. California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks Capital University, Columbus, Ohio Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis. Concordia University, River Forest, Ill. (LCMS) Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn. Grand View University, Des Moines, Iowa Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn. Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, N.C. Luther College, Decorah, Iowa Gettysburg (Pa.) College Midland University, Fremont, Neb. Newberry (S.C.) College Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash. Roanoke College, Salem, Va. St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn. Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pa. Texas Lutheran University, Seguin Thiel College, Greenville, Pa. Valparaiso (Ind.) University Wagner College, Staten Island, N.Y. Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa Wisconsin Lutheran College, Milwaukee (WELS) Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio


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Photo: Courtesy of Carthage College. Inset photo: Courtesy of James Stephenson.

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