In Search of The Great Song and Shining Night For Music Lovers

 In Search of The Great Song, is a Song Without Borders documentary series by Michael Stillwater, exploring and celebrating the song within us.

Filmed in America, Europe, Australia and India, it features artists, educators, scientists, spiritual teachers and 'ordinary people' expressing a multitude of perspectives on a universal concept. 

 Below are a few clips from the film series 

In the first one, 'Hymn to The Great Song', Brother David Steindl-Rast, a Benedictine monk known worldwide for his contribution to interfaith dialogue and advocacy for the power of gratitude, speaks of song born in silence, St. Francis, and the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke.

"There is really only one song, and it's the Great Song, the cosmic song, the song that all things, animals, plants and humans sing in their deepest heart. And every song that a human sings with his or her voice is only an expression of that one Great Song that is there from the beginning and will be there after the end." -Br. David Steindl-Rast

Filmed at Le Celle Franciscan Monastery in Cortona, Italy, with additional filming at Assisi, Italy.


The next ones feature excerpts from Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen.

In This Wall Street Journal article titled The Best Composer You've Never Heard Of Mr Teachout, the Journal's art critic says :

"The 68-year-old composer divides his time between Los Angeles, where he teaches composition at the University of Southern California, and a tiny island off the coast of Washington, where he lives in a renovated general store that overlooks Puget Sound. A man of meditative temperament who treasures "serenity and silence," he must find Waldron Island inspiringly quiet, since so many of his major pieces were written there. 

His best-known music is for chorus, and his most moving compositions, "O Magnum Mysterium" (1994) and "Lux Aeterna" (1997), are sacred choral works that give voice to the unassuming spirituality that is evident throughout "Shining Night."

O Magnum Mysterium

Says Mr. Lauridsen: "There are too many things out there that are away from goodness. We need to focus on those things that ennoble us, that enrich us." The musical language in which he embodies this simple belief is conservative in the best and most creative sense of the word. His sacred music is unabashedly, even fearlessly tonal, and his chiming harmonies serve as underpinning for gently swaying melodic lines that leave no doubt of his love for medieval plainchant. 

Nothing about his music is "experimental": It is direct, heartfelt and as sweetly austere as the luminous sound of church bells at night.

Though Mr. Lauridsen is a deeply serious artist, it's evident from watching "Shining Night" that there's nothing stuffy about him. He used to play trumpet in dance bands, and he still loves pop music, from Cole Porter and Miles Davis to Joni Mitchell and James Taylor.

What's more, he believes no less deeply in writing music that is not just for musicians, but for everybody. Of "Lux Aeterna," he says that "I didn't want to write an elitist piece that only the very best choirs in the world could perform—I wanted to write a piece that would be within reach of many people, many performers.

It's a piece with a message, and I didn't want to complicate that message with complicated musical language."

Come March 30, you'll also be able to order a DVD of "Shining Night" directly from As of this writing, though, the film has yet to be scheduled for broadcast anywhere in America. I don't know why, but I have a feeling that it has something to do with the fact that Mr. Lauridsen is neither an edgy avant-gardist nor a pop-culture panderer. He hasn't appeared on reality TV and his life, so far as I know, is devoid of scandal. 

All he does is compose radiantly beautiful music and lead what appears to be a wholly satisfying life, and these days that's not quite enough to make you a household name.

Time was when PBS would have aired "Shining Night" in a heartbeat. Why not now?


Exploring the relationship of art, nature, and spirituality, 'Shining Night' reveals the composer through the lens of his love for the natural world together with his passion for music and literature, woven with commentaries from composers, conductors, singers, and friends."

Lauridsen's facebook page for Shining Night  is here 

 Ubi Caritas et Amor by Morten Lauridsen

I love this one : The Song of The Roses  Dirait-on by Morten Lauredson

In Search Of The Great Song: 'Vespers' Segment
Singing can be a portal into other worlds- in this segment, the enduring power of Rachmaninov's Vespers is explored.


For more about Song Without Borders and to view more clips from the film, visit

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