One of Luther's four principal touring ensembles, the Nordic Choir enjoys national and international acclaim as one of the premier collegiate choral ensembles in the United States
Nordic Choir, founded in 1946, enjoys national and international stature as one of the premier collegiate choral ensembles in the United States. Acclaimed for the way it honors the Lutheran choral tradition while also featuring new and innovative choral works, the choir showcases versatility, artistry, and technical mastery across many genres of music.
Nordic Choir is under the direction of Dr. Andrew Last '97. Last arrived at Luther in the fall of 2012 and became Director of Choral Activities in 2017. Previous Nordic Choir conductors include Sigvart Steen (1946-48), Weston Noble '43 (1948-2005), Craig Arnold (2005-10), and Allen Hightower (2010-16).
Nordic Choir is Luther’s principal touring choir in a choral program that comprises three upper-class mixed touring choirs and two first-year choirs. More than 500 singers from these ensembles combine with Symphony Orchestra, Luther Ringers, and pipe organ for five annual Christmas at Luther performances. Each year more than 8,000 people attend Christmas at Luther, and audiences across the country have enjoyed watching it as a nationally broadcast holiday special.
Every other year Nordic Choir collaborates with Symphony Orchestra to present a major choral-orchestral work such as Bach’s Mass in B Minor, Handel’s Messiah, Poulenc’s Gloria, and Walton’s Belshazzar’s Feast. In spring 2019, these ensembles presented Bernstein’s Chichester Psalms. In addition to these campus collaborations, Nordic Choir has performed with the Moscow Chamber Orchestra, the Des Moines Symphony, and Orchestra Iowa.
Nordic Choir has toured extensively throughout the United States, performing in churches of all denominations, schools, and concert halls, including Lincoln Center, New York; Kennedy Center, Washington, D.C.; Orchestra Hall, Chicago; Orchestra Hall and the Historic State Theatre, Minneapolis; the Ordway Music Theatre, St. Paul, Minn.; Walt Disney Concert Hall and the Crystal Cathedral, Los Angeles; and the Mormon Tabernacle, Salt Lake City. Nordic Choir has also appeared at national American Choral Directors Association conventions in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, and Kansas City, and at the Music Educators National Conference in Kansas City, Missouri.
Nordic Choir tours internationally every three years and has toured in Scandinavia, Italy, Ireland, England, the Caribbean, Mexico, Russia, and Eastern Europe. To commemorate the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation, the choir toured Germany in May 2018, following an itinerary similar to Nordic Choir’s first international tour in 1967.
Longstanding traditions within the Nordic Choir include holding hands during performances, wearing sapphire blue velvet robes, and, since 1948, singing Pavel Chesnokov's O Lord God as the signature benedictory.