•the 500th anniversary of his stand to reform the church and much of cultural life, listeners can hear Martin Luther pound out his spiritual resolve and frustration this weekend.
In fact, the beginning of Dan Forrest’s composition “A Mighty Fortress” will feature a claw hammer striking an anvil, symbolizing the Catholic monk’s posting of his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle church.
The Columbus Indiana Philharmonic, with the help of the Philharmonic Chorus and other vocalists, will include that emphatic work in its “Celebrating the Reformation” concerts Saturday and Sunday at the local Judson Erne Auditorium. Saturday’s gathering is expected to be a sellout, according to organizers.
“It is a great piece,” said David Bowden, a friend of Forrest’s and the Philharmonic’s musical director.
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The concerts are made possible via the sponsorship of six area Lutheran churches, a first for the orchestra even in a heavily Christian community and under the direction of a man of passionate, public faith.
“But we’re not presenting this as a religious event, but as a culturally defining, historic occasion where everything about how life was lived was changed (by Luther and the Reformation),” Bowden said.
All this year, local churches and, more recently, even Ethnic Expo international festival organizers have highlighted Luther’s cultural impact that resonated not only in Europe so long ago, but still today.
The Gutenberg Press at the time made it possible for Luther’s protests against the Catholic church to be disseminated widely — and in the German language of the people, rather than in Latin, the language of the Catholic Mass and the church.
The two performances mark the first time the orchestra has scheduled two identical local concerts beyond its annual holiday shows, Bowden said.
The orchestral extravaganza, including a mass choir of about 120 voices, will include the Rev. Mark Teike, pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Columbus, offering a brief introduction and historical background at the concerts’ outset. Teike was the person who proposed the idea of a Reformation concert to Bowden more than three years ago, especially because of the area’s heavy Lutheran influence.
The pastor pointed out that Luther introduced congregational singing in Christian worship services after the Reformation — a big change from a practice of the faithful cast as observers or listeners.
“Before Luther, the only people who sang in church were the priests or the monks,” Teike said.
Luther also had a dramatic influence on classical composer Felix Mendelssohn. Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony, written to commemorate the 300th anniversary of the Reformation, will be performed by the orchestra and the singers.
Teike mentioned that Luther lived as a revolutionary in so many ways beyond theological passions. For instance, he launched public education, including the practice of educating females, which had been forbidden. Plus, in Luther’s will, he initially made his wife his benefactor, which was illegal at the time.
Moreover, in an era when Catholic priests were revered above all, Teike highlighted that Luther advocated that all work, from parenthood to farming, reflected a holy calling.
“He said that the mom changing diapers has just as high a calling as the priest,” Teike said.
For the grandiose performances, Bowden invited all area Lutheran churches to join the celebration. Consequently, the orchestra’s chorus will be joined by a variety of out-of-town singers. Those include Donna Janssen, director of a small choir at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Martinsville.
She is excited to be a part of the mass vocal ensemble, one of the largest for a Philharmonic performance. In the concert’s opening segment, the choir will encircle the auditorium’s crowd to sing — something that Janssen has witnessed elsewhere and loved as an audience member.
“That,” she said, “is a very moving experience.”
Who: The Columbus Indiana Philharmonic and the Philharmonic Chorus with a variety of area church choirs and other singers in the concerts “Celebrating the Reformation.” Works will include Johann Sebastian Bach’s “A Mighty Fortress”; Martin Luther’s version of “A Mighty Fortress” and also Dan Forrest’s “A Mighty Fortress;” Felix Mendelssohn’s Reformation Symphony, and Ralph Vaughan Williams’ “Five Mystical Songs.”
When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday.
Where: The revamped Judson Erne Auditorium, 1400 25th St. in Columbus.
Vocal soloists: Andrew Rader, alto; Joseph Ittoop, tenor; and Nathaniel Olson, baritone.
Musically speaking: 45 minutes before Saturday’s concert featuring Philharmonic Music Director David Bowden and the Rev. Mark Teike, pastor of St. Peter’s Lutheran Church in Columbus.
Tickets: Priced from $5 to $50 and available at thecip.org and at the door.
Information: 812-376-2638 or thecip.org.