Music by Morten Lauridsen occupies a permanent place in the standard vocal repertoire of the Twentieth-Century. His seven major vocal cycles–Les Chansons des Roses (Rilke), Mid-Winter Songs (Graves), Cuatro Canciones (Lorca), A Winter Come (Moss), Madrigali: Six “Firesongs” on Renaissance Italian Poems, Nocturnes (Rilke, Neruda and Agee) and Lux Aeterna–and his series of sacred a cappella motets (O Magnum Mysterium, Ave Maria, O Nata Lux and Ubi Caritas et Amor) are featured regularly in concert by distinguished ensembles throughout the world. O Magnum Mysterium, O Nata Lux (from Lux Aeterna) and Dirait-on (from Les Chansons des Roses) have become the all-time best selling choral octavos distributed by Theodore Presser, in business since 1783.
The recent book, Choral Music in the Twentieth Century by Nick Strimple, describes Lauridsen as “the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic (whose) probing, serene work contains an elusive and indefinable ingredient which leaves the impression that all the questions have been answered…From 1993 Lauridsen’s music rapidly increased in international popularity, and by century’s end he had eclipsed Randall Thompson as the most frequently performed American choral composer.” His works have been recorded on over a hundred CDs, three of which have received Grammy nominations, including O Magnum Mysterium by the New York-based ensemble, Tiffany Consort, led by Nicholas White, and two all-Lauridsen discs entitled Lux Aeterna by the Los Angeles Master Chorale conducted by Paul Salamunovich (RCM) and Polyphony with the Brtitten Sinfonia conducted by Stephen Layton (Hyperion).
Morten Lauridsen was named an “American Choral Master” by the National Endowment of the Arts in 2005 and in 2007 he received the National Medal of Arts from the President in a White House ceremony “for his composition of radiant choral works combining musical beauty, power, and spiritual depth that have thrilled audiences worldwide.” He is currently Distinguished Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music.
Born in 1943, Lauridsen served as Composer-in-Residence of the Los Angeles Master Chorale from 1995-2001 and has been Professor of Composition at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music since 1972. A native of the Pacific Northwest, he worked as a Forest Service fire-fighter and lookout (on an isolated tower near Mt. St. Helens) before traveling south to study composition with Halsey Stevens and Ingolf Dahl. Mr. Lauridsen now divides his time between Los Angeles and his summer cabin on a remote island off the northern coast of Washington State.