Reimagining the Art of Choral Programming: Innovations of Larry L. Fleming in his Annual Christmas Festivals with the National Lutheran Choir
AuthorMcDermid, John Aaron
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PublisherThe University of Arizona.
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AbstractLarry L. Fleming is a prominent figure in American church music, widely known for his compositions and choral arrangements as well as his creative approach to concert programming as the conductor the National Lutheran Choir. No formal research has yet been done on Fleming, and I believe it is a fitting time for an examination of his contributions to choral music. In this study I will examine the unique choral programming techniques utilized by Larry Fleming in his annual Christmas Festival with the National Lutheran Choir. In particular, (1) his frequent use of short, fragmentary excerpts of larger musical works, (2) his use of sacred poetry from non-biblical sources for narration, and (3) the elimination of composer credits and composition titles in the body of the printed program. Audiences appreciate thematic programming,¹ and Fleming's methods offer tremendous opportunity for inventiveness on the part of conductors when planning concerts. I therefore contend that each of the three programming innovations listed above are viable and creative ideas other conductors could adopt in putting together their own thematic programs. In order to demonstrate this assertion, I created an original choral Christmas program utilizing his techniques. While the model program produced for this study replicates several of Fleming's programming innovations exactly as he used them I certainly do not recommend that conductors create concerts that are mere imitations of those produced by Fleming. It is my hope, rather, that this sample program will demonstrate the possibilities in creative programming, and will perhaps activate the imagination of conductors to devise their own unique approaches to programming. Since some readers may find my use of certain Fleming programming innovations controversial, particularly those related to the excerpting and adaptation of musical and poetic sources, this study will conclude with a brief look at how the philosophical issue of artistic license may affect the use of these innovations.
Degree ProgramGraduate College