World-renowned composer/conductor René Clausen visits Doane

He's won multiple Grammy Awards, is the artistic director of the Emmy Award-winning Concordia Christmas Concerts, and has written dozens of commissioned compositions for famed performances. He is world-renowned composer and conductor Dr. René Clausen, and is he spending the next three days with the music department at Doane University.

Clausen will be conducting a concert Sunday at 1:00pm in Heckman Auditorium performed by the Doane Choir, Collegiate Chorale, and the Symphonic Wind Ensemble. Clausen wrote all of the music that will be performed, with his five-movement Paul Revere composition highlighting the concert.

Doane music professor and Director of Choral and Vocal Activities Dr. Kurt Runestad is thrilled to have Clausen on campus.

"Whenever you get someone of René's prestige on campus it really elevates all of us. Sunday will be a special opportunity to see a composer conduct a whole concert of pieces they wrote. It's such a unique experience for our students."

Clausen spent Friday working with student conductors, gave a lecture with a Q&A session, and held combined rehearsals with the Doane band and choir. Senior music education major Damon Lamberty ’17 was one of the students Clausen was individually able to work with in a Masterclass session.

"It wasn't as intimidating as I thought it might be," Lamberty said. "He's very pleasant and really easy to work with. He has an intuitive way of seeing what a student conductor might be doing wrong and his diagnostic skills are on point."

"These students are wonderful young men and women at Doane," Clausen said. "I want to aspire the next generation to love music as much as I do. It's great to be here."

Clausen's time on Saturday will be spent in two different rehearsals prior to a final rehearsal with the Doane choir and band. Runestad says just over 150 students are in the music department who will take part in the concert, including roughly 50 singers, 50 instrumentalists, and 50 individuals who do both.

"I've been looking forward to this since August," Lamberty said. "As the date got closer the anticipation really started to build. As we study the music even more I think this is going to be something really special."

This weekend marks the first time Clausen has been at Doane to conduct a concert. He is currently a professor of music at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, where he has served as conductor of The Concordia Choir since 1986. Clausen is well-known for his compositions in "Life and Breath: Choral Works by René Clausen," a 13-track recording by the Kansas City Chorale that awarded Clausen two Grammy Awards in 2013, including Best Choral Performance. 

Sunday's concert in Heckman Auditorium begins at 1:00pm. Tickets can be purchased here.


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