Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen

Film Overview

The Wall Street Journal calls him “the best composer you’ve never heard of,” but to choral music enthusiasts, Morten Lauridsen is one of the community’s most beloved and well known artists. Shining Night, a new film chronicling the composer’s creative process and inspirations, comes out on DVD in mid-April.

This visually stunning documentary, directed by first-time filmmaker Michael Stillwater, largely takes place at Lauridsen’s home on the San Juan Islands just off the coast of Washington state. The sweeping environs are at once earthly and ethereal—just like Lauridsen’s music. It's one of those places, he says, where you just “sit on a rock and stare for a long time.”

His home, dubbed Crum's Castle, seems to be torn out of a page from Thoreau's Walden. It is rustic—without running water or electricity. The idyllic seclusion allows him complete focus on the craft of writing music, fueled by contemplations about nature, art, and the spirit.

While the film only briefly skims the surface of Lauridsen’s personal life, it delves instead into the creation of O Magnum Mysterium, Sa Nuit D'Été, Soneto de la Noche, Sure on This Shining Night, Lux Aeterna, Dirait-On, and Madrigali, and features outstanding performances and recordings from Volti, San Francisco Choral Society, University of Aberdeen Choral Society, Con Anima, Polyphony and Britten Sinfonia, The Dale Warland Singers, and The Singers/Minnesota Choral Artists.

The film was selected as the winner of Best Documentary at the DC Independent Film Festival (2012) and the winner of an Honorable Mention at the Los Angeles Movie Awards (2012). It will be released in limited edition DVD starting April 15, 2012.

There will be a screening of the film at Chorus America's Conference in Minneapolis on Thursday, June 14. Learn more.