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The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America

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Where Lutheran heritage comes alive

For youth, Lutheran Summer Music builds musical excellence, camaraderie

In her first year at the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival, Karla Dietmeyer, 16, took her violin to a jazz improv class. Inconceivably for her skill level, it was also the talented young virtuoso’s first time playing in an orchestra.

And that dreamy-eyed look reserved for a special “crush”? Dietmeyer gets it at the mere mention of composers Antonín DvoÅ™ák and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov. “They’re amazing,” said the member of Christ Our Shepherd Lutheran Church, Peachtree City, Ga. “And Rimsky-Korsakov’s Russian Easter Overture. It’s big. It’s brilliant. I’d never heard of it in my life, but now I’m in love with it.”

Dietmeyer was one of 125 students—eighth- through 12th-graders—who attended the residential summer music program last July at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn. The students came from 40 states and three other countries. Founded in 1982 to help the church train future musical leaders, Lutheran Summer Music rotates every three years to one of nine Lutheran college or university campuses (see right).

The concert choir, conducted by Allen
The concert choir, conducted by Allen Hightower, director of choral activities at Sam Houston State University, Huntsville, Texas, rehearses in preparation for a four-day performance festival. The event is held the last week of the Lutheran Summer Music Academy and Festival, which trains future musical leaders.
A tradition of excellence

More than 70 percent of the students are members of a U.S. Lutheran church body, but youth of all faiths are welcome.

The camp focuses on Lutheran musical heritage, said executive director Beth Burns. “We want to keep alive the tradition of excellence that is so much a part of Lutheran musical heritage,” she said. “The outcome? More church musicians, more church educators, and a better understanding of the liturgy and hymns that make up our canon. Our program is unique in its ability to keep the classic canon of our church alive in congregational music.”


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