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Pop-Oratorio ‘Luther’ Premieres

The sold-out premiere of the pop oratorio ‘Luther,’ a much larger-than-life recital commemorating the life and times of church r eformer Martin Luther, took place on October 31 in Dortmund’s Westfalenhalle. Featuring nearly 3,000 vocalists marshaled in 85 choirs, this colossal choral/musical was performed on a scale befitting the Reformation’s upcoming 500th anniversary. 

Even if satis&fy project manager Andy Borgmann’s team wasn’t called upon to join in with close harmonies, the gig still proved to be a daunting challenge. Sound engineer Carsten Kümmel faced some stringent demands, to put it mildly. Microphones had to be deployed in record numbers to capture all the many dulcet tones of a choir as huge as this. Sound engineer Arnd Wagner managed to accomplish this feat with three-meter aluminum rods suspended from the balconies. Speakers were also mounted to the upper tiers to serve as monitors for the performers. 

While this sound system gave voice to every member of the enormous ensemble, lighting designer Michael Grundner had to come up with a concept that would enable the audience to see all the many faces in the vast crowd of artists. The headlights for the lower tier proved to be particularly tricky. With the choir situated in the mezzanines, it had to be illuminated from the front, uniformly across all tiers including the upper sections. The solution was to mount several Ianiro floodlights on six bars hoisted up on SteelFlex slings to provide uniform front lighting. “That sounds very technical, and it was,” says Andy, adding, “We had nothing to do with the artistic content.” 

That could soon change if satis&fy decides to chime in with a choir of its own. This performance, conceived by the Witten Creative Church Foundation in collaboration with Germany’s Evangelical Church, will be reprised in a 2017 quincentenary tour of eight cities. The narrative uses flashbacks and flash-forwards to reenact Luther’s quest for biblical truth and struggle against authorities and church leaders. Featuring an ensemble of professional musical performers, the show is directed by Andreas Gergen and choreographed by Doris Marlis. 

Some 1,500 to 2,500 vocalists are to be recruited for the project choir at each venue. Performers are still being sought; church membership is not a prerequisite. Church and secular choir members, amateur and professional singers, Average Joe and Ordinary Jane—anyone can join, even a satis&fy glee club. So, guys and gals at satis&fy, get your act together and start rehearsing.

Photos: Marcus Simaitis

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