‘a man, an island, and music that moves the world’
Shining Night offers a glimpse of the life and music of one of the greatest living choral composers, Morten Lauridsen, a National Medal of Arts recipient who spends summers on a remote island in the San Juan Archipelago and whom musicologist Nick Strimple distinguishes as ‘the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic’.
Exploring the relationship of art, nature, and spirituality, Shining Night reveals the composer through the lens of his love for the natural world together with his passion for music and poetry, interwoven with commentaries from composers, conductors, singers, and friends.
‘a heartening rarity’
Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal
Filmed between 2010-2011 in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Aberdeen, Scotland, and Waldron Island, the documentary conveys the richness and breadth of the award-winning composer’s life, with a soundtrack featuring his masterworks- Lux Aeterna, O Magnum Mysterium, Nocturnes (including Sa Nuit D’Ete, Soneto de la Noche, and Sure On This Shining Night, Madrigali and Dirait-on.
Thomas May, Seattle Times
Winner of four Best Documentary awards since its 2012 premiere in Palm Springs, the film is screened throughout the world, often hosted by choral festivals and choirs featuring the film in a program of Lauridsen music. Shining Night, co-produced by Michael Stillwater and his wife Doris Laesser Stillwater, offers a rare encounter with music that inspires humanity, conveying a spiritual transmission to singers and audiences alike.
Sure On This Shining Night
by Morten Lauridsen
"...a thing of such beauty and stillness, it touches upon eternity"
"Exquisitely beautiful...so stunning I wept all the way through."
"Watching 'Shining Night' reminded me why I'm alive."
"...brightens what is most ancient, sacred, and beautiful in the human soul."
"...completely blown away, touched to the core... "
"...a feast for eyes, ears, heart and soul."
"Conveys the musical legend and the gentle, introspective genius."
"One of the most remarkable and moving pieces I have ever seen- moving to tears both ourselves and others we have introduced it to."
"A stunning visualization... the sheer beauty of the film matches that of the choral masterpieces featured in the film"
"A first-class documentary on a distinguished composer with sumptuous cinematography and gorgeous music"
"A world-class film documenting an equally world-class composer. A 'must have'."
"Top-notch documentary- an astonishing piece of work concerning a talented individual. Photography was outstanding and the scenery and subject matter was exquisite."
"...a calming, spiritual treat, offering a rare encounter with music that inspires humanity and conveys a spiritual transmission to singers and audiences alike"
"Gorgeous filmmaking and beautiful music from a contemporary genius, Shining Night is a must-see for those who love the performing arts!"
"...this portrait of the composer as genius/mystic/sea-shaman delivers the same delicious satisfaction as does reading an artist’s compelling autobiography, collection of letters, or coming across a hidden cache of their recordings."
"Illuminates the person behind the music, giving us a rare glimpse into its creative source."
"In its measured pace, reverent air, and sincere, comforting tone... Shining Night resembles nothing so much as its sincere subject and his emotionally direct, soothing music."
"Shining Night documents the sounds in the atmosphere when the earth was being formed. It is the melody of the spheres discovered in depth consciousness. In the fine net of his art, Stillwater has captured the unnamable. We loved the film and recommend it highly."
"Shining Night is an exquisitely beautiful, elegant, and inspiring film ... a profound and tender reminder of the power and importance of connecting with the numinous dimensions of life."
"...a look into the window of Morten Lauridsen's mind, a profoundly spiritual man. His music is a beautiful gift shared over and over around the world. I am convinced his music will be performed centuries from now. Don't pass up a chance to see this movie."
"...the first time I've been truly engaged (in a documentary) with the connection between the physical/spiritual geography of a place, and the music created by someone intimate with that place."
"I have never heard anything more moving, including the music of Bach and Beethoven. Extremely inspiring; absolutely stunning. Its transcendence is magnificent. Made me openly weep in the theatre. I didn't care"
"The care and craft of presentation and the luminosity of the photography work in harmony with the music to create a layered experience that is both journey and meditation."
"Magnificent music, cinematography, and commentary! Thanks to Shining Night, America's premier composer of choral music receives a tribute that underscores the power of his music to elevate the spirit and create community."
"The strength of Shining Night is Stillwater's decision to allow us to hear extended sections of Lauridsen's most famous works, sung in rehearsal and in final performance."
"I cannot express how wonderful your film was. As each chapter began, I thought to myself, 'Oh thank God: it's not over yet!' Your concept of revealing the inner song in each person is much needed in our hustling and distracting world."
"Shining Night provides enormous insight into Lauridsen's work capturing much of the essence of both the sound and structure of his art, and why it touches listeners and performers so deeply."