In his seven years as director and conductor of the Fargo-Moorhead Choral Artists, Dr. Michael Culloton has always enjoyed programming concert music for every venue in which the community choir performs.

Whether it’s a church, community center or hotel ballroom, Culloton considers the acoustics and aesthetics of each location as he asks himself, “What’s here? What can we sing about?”

This was especially true when he stepped into Saints Anne and Joachim Catholic Church at 5202 25th St. S. in Fargo to choose music for the choir’s first concert at the venue on Saturday, Jan.19 and Sunday, Jan. 20.

As he walked through the church, Culloton took in the beautiful architecture, the writings on the pulpit and the tiles on the floor. But the acoustics of the space excited him the most. After all, when performing a cappella choral music, “acoustics matter a great deal,” he says.

Channeling his inspiration from the space, Culloton ultimately chose a Cathedral Classics theme for the concert this weekend featuring music that’s been performed in venues like Saints Anne and Joachim Catholic Church for years – sometimes centuries.

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“I think more than any other concert for the F-M Choral Artists, I’ve programmed the concert for this venue,” Culloton says.

The concert titled “My Song in the Night: Cathedral Classics” is performed in two parts. In the first half, the choir sings sacred cathedral-inspired music from Renaissance era composers like Palestrina and Hassler, as well as Henryk Górecki’s modern masterpiece “Totus Tuus.”

Dr. Michael Culloton, director and conductor of the F-M Choral Artists, is excited for the community choir to perform in Saints Anne and Joachim Catholic Church for the first time. Photo courtesy of FM Choral Artists / Special to The Forum
Dr. Michael Culloton, director and conductor of the F-M Choral Artists, is excited for the community choir to perform in Saints Anne and Joachim Catholic Church for the first time. Photo courtesy of FM Choral Artists / Special to The ForumPhoto courtesy of FM Choral Artists / Special to The Forum


In the second half, the choir performs sacred Americana music, like Shawn Kirchner’s “Heavenly Home” and Paul J. Christiansen’s “My Song in the Night,” which was performed at George H.W. Bush’s funeral early in December, Culloton says.

“We had already started rehearsing (before the funeral), so it was totally serendipitous, but if you ever want affirmation that you’re picking good music, watch to see what is done at funerals of American presidents,” Culloton says.

Originally founded as the F-M Chamber Chorale, the F-M Choral Artists has performed choral music of all styles and time periods for the community since 1980. The choir consists of more than 60 men and women from both sides of the Red River, with more than a dozen new singers joining the organization this season.

The choir comes from all walks of life, but Culloton says the one common denominator among the singers is that they all have a collegiate-level background in music.

Culloton is excited for the choir to perform in Saints Anne and Joachim Catholic Church for the first time and to remind community members of the “glory of the human voice,” he says.

More than 60 men and women from both sides of the Red River sing in the F-M Choral Artists, directed by Dr. Michael Culloton. Photo courtesy of FM Choral Artists / Special to The Forum
More than 60 men and women from both sides of the Red River sing in the F-M Choral Artists, directed by Dr. Michael Culloton. Photo courtesy of FM Choral Artists / Special to The ForumPhoto courtesy of FM Choral Artists / Special to The Forum


“I still sit in awe after (conducting choirs) for decades that we make music happen with our bodies,” Culloton says. “Sometimes audience members need to be reminded that we all possess the instrument required to make music. We don’t have to have a grand piano in the living room or a violin in the closet. We all possess the instrument, and if we haven’t been reminded recently of the power of 60 voices coming together and making music happen, then we need to do that.”

For more information on the F-M Choral Artists, visit www.fmchoralartists.org.

If you go

What: “My Song in the Night: Cathedral Classics” by F-M Choral Artists

When: 7:30 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 19 and 2 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 20

Where: Saints Anne and Joachim Catholic Church (5202 25th St. S. in Fargo)

Tickets: www.fmchoralartists.org

This article is part of a content partnership with The Arts Partnership, a nonprofit organization cultivating the arts in Fargo, Moorhead and West Fargo. For more information, visit http://theartspartnership.net.