It Began in 1917
In 1917 an impressive festival to celebrate the 400th Anniversary of the Reformation was held at the Civic Auditorium. The program featured The Reverend Wilhelm Petersen's inspired poetry set to music by F. Melius Christiansen. The resulting Reformation cantata was the highlight of the festival. Lutheran choirs from Portland and the surrounding areas combined 275 voices under the direction of Professor Charles Swensen to perform this cantata for an appreciative audience of 4,000. This successful celebration was the inspiration for what was to become Lutheran Choral Association.
For the next few years the combined choirs, known then as Lutheran Choral Society, sang at Rose Festivals, the annual Messiah presentation and at Reformation services. The choir also repeated the Reformation cantata in 1929 at the 400th Anniversary of the publication of Luther's Catechism.
The 1930s was a period of transformation and reorganization. Instead of local choirs combining for special events, a large choir was formed that established a concert program of its own. The first annual May Choir Festival took place May 24, 1936. Lutheran Choral Association, as we know it today, began its annual concerts with this May Choir Festival. The late L. Stanley Glarum served as director for this first concert and continued in that capacity until 1942. Except for three years in its early history, Lutheran Choral Association has maintained its annual concert schedule. Over the years the concerts moved from May to the fall and increased in number to our current series of five.
In 1988, to celebrate the Fiftieth Concert Season, Lutheran Choral Association presented a program that featured two compositions by our first director, L. Stanley Glarum. The Choir also performed for the first time "The Promise of Light," an anthem written especially for the occasion by Dr. Margaret Vance.
Lutheran Choral Association was created to praise God with beautiful music. Music is a universal and uniting language. Over the years Lutherans of different synods have united in this common goal. In the mid to late seventies, the Choir opened its membership to other denominations. It is now truly an ecumenical organization, welcoming all who wish to dedicate their time and talents to praising God with singing.
To celebrate the 500th anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation,
Lutheran Choral joined Portland’s Bach Cantata Choir, brass, handbells, and organ at Trinity Episcopal Church in 2017.