It wasn't until Mark Kilstofte attended St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn., that he learned Johann Sebastian Bach was Lutheran. And while he hasn't supplanted Bach, Kilstofte is becoming a much respected and honored contemporary Lutheran composer. The latest accomplishment for the member of Trinity Lutheran Church, Greenville, S.C., came earlier this year when the Dale Warland Singers, a St. Paul, Minn., group, named him winner of its Choral Ventures program.
Chosen from 254 applicants in 41 states, Kilstofte was awarded a $7,000 commission to write a 10- to 15-minute work to be premiered during the Dale Warland Singers 2003-04 season.
"I was really surprised to win," Kilstofte said. "The level of competition was really high, and they could have picked any of the four finalists and made a wise choice."
Kilstofte, who teaches music at Furman University in Greenville, spent several months writing a five-minute work for the contest. He will be working on his new composition for the next year in Rome. He was awarded the Frederick A. Julliard/Walter Damrosch Rome Prize Fellowship in Musical Composition.
Furman attributes much of his success as a composer to his faith. "I take my faith seriously, and I hope that my art reflects that," he said. "Also, I want my work to show my thanks for the gifts that I've been given."
Kilstofte's congregation is also a source of inspiration. "They've shown me lots of support and their expression of how proud they are is heartwarming," he said. "And they have sung a number of my pieces."
© 2015 Augsburg Fortress, Publishers