The PLHS Choir puts the Master in Masterwork


The Prior Lake High School Choir rehearsing on Thursday Night at Shepherd of the Lake.

At Prior Lake High School, the choirs are working on an exquisite masterwork, a work of many songs put together for one performance. The PLHS choir normally performs one masterwork annually, and this years selection was “The Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins.

“The Armed Man” by Karl Jenkins is a score composed in 1990; dedicated to the victims of the Kosovo crisis. This hour long masterwork thrives with songs about everything from fires and destroyed humans to beautiful songs composed with elegant cello introductions.

The San Francisco Choral Society in 2008 describes this masterwork in their program notes: “The human longing for peace is a visceral presence in this mass, as each movement adds to the larger story of the war’s devastating impact. The work’s compelling beauty bridges Hindu, Islamic, and Christian cultures.”

Along with notes and summaries about the work, I interviewed Randi Erlandson, one of the main PLHS Choir directors about this piece. “I think this year’s masterwork is truly unique in that it’s 100 percent unlike anything we’ve ever attempted to perform before.” Erlandson continues to talk about the difficulty of the piece: “The messages and meanings behind this work are powerful and difficult to process because it creates such strong and irrefutable feelings of unease and discomfort for the performer and listener.”

On the other hand, I interviewed Bella Merwin, freshman choir member, and asked her about her personal struggles of the piece. “We sight read a lot. There are parts in the songs where we all sing different things at different tempos. That’s extremely confusing and it’s a lot of work, but it is worth every second.”

Merwin goes on to talk about her love for the masterwork: “The songs make me want to cry when singing them. It is the most passionate I’ve ever felt about choir and it makes me love singing for Prior Lake! I’m also looking forward to singing the songs that make my heart flutter and my stomach churn. I’m excited to sing with grades 9-12 and hear this amazing piece of work. I’m ready to finalize this masterwork that I fell in love with.”

Truly every choir member at Prior Lake High School feels these emotions one way or another. Coming from my experience, performing the masterwork is the most elegant and beautiful thing I’ve ever sung and listened to. Come support your lakers in their robes at Shepherd of the Lake Lutheran Church in Prior Lake on TONIGHT, October 16th at 7 PM!