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Choral piece to honor longtime St. Olaf organist

LaVon Wing to to serve as inspiration for Stroope-penned Advent and Christmas work

December 23, 2011
By JESSE HELLING, Messenger city editor , Messenger News

Since 1950, the organ stylings of LaVon Wing have filled St. Olaf Lutheran Church in Fort Dodge.

In recognition of her long service, the St. Olaf Lutheran Church Foundation has commissioned a choral work honoring Wing.

The piece, which will be written by composer Z. Randall Stroope, will be completed in August for debut at Christmas 2012.

Stroope, director of choral and vocal studies at Oklahoma State University-Stillwater, is among the most active choral conductors and composers working today, said Joseph Svendsen, choral director at Fort Dodge Senior High.

Svendsen, a member of the St. Olaf foundation board, said that working with Stroope has been educational and exciting.

The piece will have an Advent and Christmas theme. The text will be based on Bible verses Isaiah 9:2 and John 1:14, which state "The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light," and " ... the word became flesh and dwelled among us," respectively.

"We wanted the piece to be accessible to as many different levels as possible," Svendsen said.

As such, the piece will be a'capella, meaning that no instrumental accompaniment would be necessary.

The piece will be published as a part of the Luther College Choral Series.

A formal premiere is being planned, with details to be released next August, Svendsen said.

The Fort Dodge Senior High A'Capella Choir will be the second ensemble to perform it, he said.

The piece will enter general publication in 2013 - meaning that Wing's honor will be performed by school and church choirs across the country for years to come, Svendsen said.

That's a thought Wing finds a bit overwhelming.

Wing first found out about her honor earlier in December.

"It was an awful shock," she said, laughing. "I don't know if I've gotten over it yet."

Wing first began playing at the age of 11 at the Lutheran Church in Callender.

After moving to Fort Dodge after World War II, Wing began to take organ lessons with Leda Everson, who had served as organist for First United Methodist Church since 1919.

"She told me I would make a good organist," said Wing. "She was very encouraging."

Wing was the church's full time organist from 1950 to 1992. She presently serves as organist emeritus, filling in as needed.

Contact Jesse Helling at (515) 573-2141 or



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