Ascension’s Chancel Choir is one of the things that makes this church special. This year, we are excited to welcome our new director, Wyant Morton. Singers, come and be a part of it!
Something to Sing About:
Wyant Morton to Lead Ascension Choir
An Ascension member was recently asked, by a deacon from a church south of here, what we were going to do about replacing the esteemed Howard Sonstegard after his retirement.
“We’re blessed that one of our members is a wonderful choir director, and he is going to step in for us,” she replied. “Wyant Morton.”
“You got Wyant Morton?!” cried the deacon.
Yes, indeed. His illustrious reputation precedes him — professor of music, doctor of musical arts, director of the California Lutheran University Choral Ensembles (Cal Lutheran Choir, Women’s Chorale and the Areté Vocal Ensemble chamber choir he founded in 2009). He has conducted in such famous places as St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican, the Bergen Cathedral in Norway, and Carnegie Hall. He’s worked with the likes of conductor Esa-Pekka Salonen and been recognized with the Cal Lutheran
Honorary Alumni Award, the CLU President’s Award for Excellence in Teaching and CLU’s Professor of the Year designation, among other honors. Small wonder excitement is growing as Wyant gets ready to pick up the baton at Ascension.
“I’m excited, too,” says Wyant, in a morning’s conversation about his new post.
He’s beginning his 26th year at Cal Lutheran. As far as his history with Ascension, he recalls that he and wife Sarah began attending when their children, Sam and Hannah, were starting to grow up. “They were confirmed here, went through the youth group, and went on many trips with Larry,” he says, referring to Senior Pastor emeritus Larry Wagner. “It’s got to be 15, 20 years we’ve been coming here.”
Meanwhile, he’s been directing the choir at CLU’s neighboring church, Holy Trinity. When the choir director position opened up at Ascension, Wyant felt it was a unique opportunity to return to his home church.
It’s too soon to say exactly what musical offerings will be coming our way. Wyant points out, “It’s hard to choose music without getting to know the choir first, without having a few weeks with them to get to know them, not only personally, but also musically.”
However, in a general sense, it seems safe to predict there will be something for everyone. “I do have a very eclectic musical taste. If there is one thing to look for it would be a wide variety of musical styles, anything from classical choral music to more multicultural and ethnic music, gospel music, a real mixture of styles.”
A native of Los Angeles, Wyant completed his undergraduate degrees at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington and earned his Master of Music and Doctor of Musical Arts degrees from the University of Arizona in Tucson. As an undergraduate, he specialized in trumpet. All his graduate work was in choral conducting.
Part of the draw he feels toward choral music is “the connection to the texts, the poetry, whatever the words happen to be. You know, orchestras have music that dates back a couple hundred years, but choirs have music that dates back six centuries. There is a huge repertoire to choose from and that’s a great thing about the choral arts.”
Perhaps some of his former students will show up at Ascension?
“I hope that might happen,” says Wyant. “A couple of people have already contacted me about that. We’ll see. It’s one of the things I hope to do — recruit some new members. In fact, I’d like to extend an open invitation to anybody who would like to sing to come try it out. They can contact me at me at my new Ascension email address — email@example.com. People can reach out to me if they would like more information.”
Wyant knows some Chancel Choir members well, others somewhat. Howard, he says, invited him to join in singing several cantatas. He looks forward to getting to know all the choir members better.
“I think we work hard but I think that’s what makes it worthwhile in the end, that people feel a great sense of satisfaction when they can achieve something at a very high artistic level. That’s what makes it fun,” says Wyant. “There is obviously fun in the camaraderie of people being together and singing. The real joy comes from achieving something great.”
— August 12, 2018
The Chancel Choir sings at the traditional services during the school year, as well as on special occasions. It gives choir members the opportunity for personal growth and development of their vocal and musical skills. We rehearse and sing great works of sacred choir literature of all styles and periods including the annual Christmas Cantata. Be a part of this diverse and friendly community of musicians and experience a sense of achievement and purposefulness. Members are typically post-high school, though high schoolers can become members by audition. A basic music reading skill is recommended but not mandatory. The Chancel Choir rehearses on Thursday evenings, 7:30 – 9:00 pm. If you are interested, please contact Wyant Morton.