Celebrating Morten Lauridsen – “O Magnum Mysterium”

When the Los Angeles Master Chorale commissioned Morten Lauridsen’s setting of “O Magnum Mysterium” in 1994, few people anticipated that it would launch the acclaimed composer’s career. It was at that very first concert that music director Paul Salamunovich told the audience, “Until now, Vittoria’s O Magnum Mysterium has been the most beautiful and well recognized setting of this text composed to date. I predict that will change after tonight.”

“O Magnum Mysterium” remains one of Laurisden’s most beloved choral works. In this video, the composer shares his inspiration for the holiday piece, which first originated with a painting – “Still Life with Lemons, Oranges and a Rose” (1633) by Spanish Baroque artist Francisco de Zurbarán – and was ultimately shaped by Gregorian chant.


In this revealing series, Lauridsen will discuss his student days at USC, the inspiration he draws from the quiet of his simple retreat on Washington’s Waldron Island, the influence of poetry in his music, and his relationship with USC Thornton, both as a faculty member and three-time alumnus. Lauridsen also offers an intimate glimpse into the creation of some of his most beloved pieces, including “O Magnum Mysterium” and “Sure on this Shining Night.”

To view the full archive of videos, click here.