Morten Lauridsen
Morten Lauridsen

film poster
Film Poster for Shining Night




Commentaries on the Film, Shining Night
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"A heartening rarity"
Terry Teachout, Wall Street Journal
full review

"A visually ecstatic which stuns"
Don Schwartz, CineSource Magazine
full review

"...brightens what is most ancient, sacred,
and beautiful in the human soul."

Tamsin Smith, Social Entrepreneur and Writer
full review

"Much like the composer's music-
spare, thoughtfully crafted, serene"

David Stabler, The Oregonian, Portland, Oregon
full review

"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."

Brett Campbell, Oregon Arts Watch
full review

"...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." 

Mary Trainor-Brigham, author, Deep Cinema

full review

"The film's success is...a long "goodnight kiss" to the notion that classical music is untouchable or separate from all other arts." 
Stephanie Jones, Volti, San Francisco
full review

"a refreshing reminder...
moving, joyful and a must see" 

Big Green Film Festival, Bristol, UK
full review


O Nata Lux from Lux Aeterna(excerpt)
Composed by Morten Lauridsen
Performed by Polyphony & Britten Sinfonia
on Morten Lauridsen: Lux Aeterna

Film Viewer Responses:

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Read 50 Reviews from

"A masterpiece!"

Kay Pollak, Film Director
Oscar-Nominated As It Is In Heaven

Derek Weston, Music Educator and Conductor

"Simply stunning!"
Paul W. Schulz, Artistic Director and Founder
Northwest Repertory Singers

"Absolutely spellbinding"
Maureen Mayer, Film Producer

"Breathless, remarkable beauty..."
Mary Anne Brundage, Musician and Composer

Joan Halifax Roshi, Santa Fe, NM

IMDB review

Roy Salmond, Whitewater Productions, BC, Canada

"...completely blown away, touched to the core... "
Rita Glassman, Cantor, San Francisco

"A spectacular night..a stunning film"
Michael Fitzpatrick, cellist and filmmaker

"...a feast for eyes, ears, heart and soul."
Fr. John Ball, All Faith Episcopal Parish, St Michaels, Maryland

"...a thing of such beauty and stillness, it touches upon eternity"
Robert Reilly, Author, Surprised By Beauty

"Gorgeous, soulful and angelic all at once..."
Miriam Lichtenstein, film viewer

"Conveys the musical legend and the gentle, introspective genius."
Eric Whitacre, composer/conductor

"...stunningly meditative"
Krista English, director, Peterborough International Film Festival

"Magnificent! A wonderfully spiritual portrait of a great artist."
Br Michael Gallagher OSB, Holy Cross Monastery, Beaumont, Texas

"A world-class film documenting
an equally world-class composer. A 'must have'."

Z. Randall Stroope, American composer-conductor

"Exquisitely stunning I wept all the way through."
Jo-Anne Silverman, Victoria, BC, Canada

"Illuminates the person behind the music,
giving us a rare glimpse into its creative source."

Tim Sharp, Executive Director, American Choral Directors Association

"Love the movie!!! We understand Morten's music better
when we hear and see him in his element. "

Jerry Blackstone, Director of Choirs, University of Michigan

"Gorgeous filmmaking and beautiful music from a contemporary genius,
Shining Night is a must-see for those who love the performing arts!"
Steve Weiss, No Festival Required, Phoenix, AZ

"...a calming, spiritual treat, offering a rare encounter with music
that inspires humanity and conveys a spiritual transmission
to singers and audiences alike"

Salt Spring Island Film Festival, BC, Canada

"...A wonderful DVD. I can watch it again and again,
by myself or with friends. "

Ulla Birkved, Amazon review

"...Quite simply a terrific film about a wonderful composer. The music is sublime and the story is fascinating. Highly recommended."
M. Devon, Amazon review

"An astonishing piece of work concerning a talented individual. Photography was outstanding and the scenery and subject matter was exquisite"
Jim Lebherz, review

"One of the most remarkable and moving pieces I have ever seen-
moving to tears both ourselves and others we have introduced it to."

Art Kaemmer M.D., Saint Paul, MN

"Breathtaking cloudscapes, stunning documentary...
so much depth and soulfulness in this man's eyes, voice, music..."

Tese Silvestre, international consultant and visionary

"Inspired, moved and soulfully touched
doesn't begin to describe what I experienced"

Amy Berry, Musician & Engineer

"A first-class documentary on a distinguished composer
with sumptuous cinematography and gorgeous music"

Toby Symington, Lloyd Symington Foundation

"Elegance, reverence, delicacy- absolutely great.
I am speechless before such Beauty"

Alda Goes, Lisbon, Portugal

"a gem, a masterpiece; deeply moving, absorbing...
a fantastic experience."

Constance Demby, composer/recording artist

"...portrays the relationship between Lauridsen
and the natural beauty of the world with great sensitivity"

Paul French, director, Southern Oregon University Choral Studies

"A stunning visualization... the sheer beauty of the film
matches that of the choral masterpieces featured in the film"

Nick Hart-Williams, Director, Big Green Film Festival, Bristol, UK

"Morten Lauridsen is a true American treasure.
I enjoy giving
Shining Night DVDs to friends so they too
may become hooked on this man and his music."

Doug Morris, viewer

"A visually stunning documentary;
the sweeping environs are at once earthly and ethereal."

Jan-Marie Petersen, Chorus America, Washington, DC

"a life changing experience...
we bought the film and will be getting all the music."

Tashina, film viewer

"I had tears in my eyes most of the time
because the music just touches your soul"

Greg Schneider, President, Hospice Volunteer Association

"You've caught the essence of Mr Lauridsen,
and filled our ears, minds and hearts with his work."

Virginia Thorndike, author, Maine

"An unprecedented look into the mind and heart of a musical genius."
Sofia Dumitru, Producer/Host, KRCB, Sonoma County CA

"Stillwater's filmic style is sympatico with Lauridsen's delivery–
a fascinating film to watch."

Jim Tusty, co-filmmaker, The Singing Revolution

"An absolutely beautiful movie about a composer whose music is truly the voice of God. I am so inspired, musically, personally and spiritually."
Jason Becker, composer/musician

"Watching Shining Night for the sixth time
felt as blissful as the first time. Thank you for this masterful piece of work, created in the vision of the Great Song."

Christine Teubersen, Vienna, Austria

"What a great, sensitive, sensuous, brilliant portrait of this eminent composer- whom I did not know, and who is not well-known in Finland.
thank you for bringing this movie into the world!"

Johannes Gleede, London/Hamburg/Finland

"To hear music that opens your heart in the presence of the Divine,
to see a beautiful film, to be moved to tears and awe in the same breath-
I have the DVD and the CDs and want to listen and watch over and over..."

Donna Michaels, Nashville, TN

"Truly a heart expanding, soul uplifting masterpiece!
My gratitude to everyone who contributed to its making"

Louise Nye, film viewer

"a masterpiece..the film distills the etheric purity of Lauridsen's music "
Jim Garrison, Founder, State of the World Forum

"Your documentary is beautiful, inspiring,
meditative and rich in 'intangibles'."

John Rusnak, Pianist & Composer, Los Angeles

"So much creativity and aliveness reflected in the intimacy and beauty
of this movie...what a gift back to life!"

Roberta Godbe-Tipp, Ph.D, Transpersonal Psychotherapist, San Rafael, CA

"Top-notch documentary- an astonishing piece of work concerning a talented individual. Photography was outstanding and the scenery and subject matter was exquisite."
Jim Lebherz/ Amazon Review

"Imagine Gershwin or Mahler telling all,
with seagulls and sunsets in the background. A triumph!"

Tom Korns, County Commisioner, Arlington, VA

"Full of the reflective soul of it's subject...
deserves to be seen, many times in many ways."

Alex-Hyde White, actor

"One of the most beautiful and uplifting pieces...
moved me to tears of gratitude, joy, and more."

Therese Schroeder-Sheker, founder, Chalice of Repose

"Conveys the calm power...
to place even hectic contemporary souls into a state of peace."

Thomas Austenfeld, Prof. of American Literature, Fribourg, Switzerland

"Shining Night makes something intangible more real for us,
giving an increased ability to live/create from the depths of our soul."

Maria Kostelas, Musical Artist, Los Angeles

"The film feels like a symphony, weaving in and out of musical/visual motifs- a work of art comparable to the artistry of Morten Lauridsen."

Rainbow Casey, from IMDB review

"So greatly moved by your artistic expression,
I found your confidence in the inherent power of music refreshing.
Thank you for supporting the arts in such a deeply touching way "

Alexander Kato-Willis, Composer/Pianist, Los Angeles

"A meditation on life, Shining Night provides an exceptional, mature look at the process and circumstances that surround the mystery of great music. Told simply and honestly, it mirrors the intention of the music it documents."
IMDB Review

"What wonderful energy permeates the film, emanating from Morten's deep rootedness in spirit, to the music and the scenery. Soul-nourished and hugely inspired, I recommend this extraordinary movie to anyone seeking quietude of the heart."
Alan Cohen, Author & Speaker, Maui, HI

"Stirring, emotional and simply overwhelming.
Thank you for introducing the unbelievable genius of Morten Lauridsen
to us and the world. I'm a big fan of his now, still shaking from the intensity of the movie."

PJ D'Atri, guitarist

"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."

Kevin Starr, National Humanities Medalist 2006

"a beautiful, loving and visually stunning portrait of an amazingly gifted and soulful man. Thank you for this soul nourishing gift to the world, much needed in these times."
Joanne Lefferts, San Rafael, CA

"I just received the DVD and "I weep for wonder!"
You've done an exquisite job of illuminating the music and the man,
and even more so, given us a profound message of inspiration and truth
about life and love we each are a part of."

Sarah Lopez, former composition student of Morten Lauridsen

"The soundtrack is carefully interwoven with the cinematography in such a way that describes the inspiration from which the music was born. I was touched by this film in a way both gentle and profound."
Allan Tamm, film viewer

" excellent insight into the man and his music.
There is a blend of remote island photography, interview tributes
and behind the scenes work with some of the worlds' finest choirs-
a really engaging backdrop to Lauridsen's musical journey. Brilliant !"
Martin Thomas, Amazon review

"A look into the window of Morten Lauridsen's mind, a profoundly spiritual man. His music is a beautiful gift that is shared over and over around the world. I am convinced that his music will be performed centuries from now. Don't pass up a chance to see this movie!"
Brihath, film response

"Glorious! Thank you for your vision, your sensibility and aesthetic in the production of it.You so beautifully reflected the inhale/exhale of Morten's sacred sound in the pacing of the movie "
Kira Gold, Santa Barbara

"...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."

John Hamilton Kelly, Geographer, Kansas City, MO

"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."

film viewer, Los Angeles

"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."
Joyce Kirkpatrick, Chair, Greater Middletown Choir, Connecticut

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."

Jeremy Geffen, MD / author, Journey Through Cancer

"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."
Anne Richardson / Oregon Movies A-Z

"Morten Lauridsen is a true American treasure.
I enjoy giving friends the
Shining Night DVD so they too may become hooked on this man and his music."
Doug Morris, film viewer

"This film really inspired me. I've already been a major fan of choral music, but this movie really explained the beauty choral music has."

A. Gust, Aurora, IL (Grade 12, future music educator)


"The music and quietness of the film kept me intrigued and on the edge of my seat. I am now more knowledgable and inspired to make music."

D. Lenke, Aurora, IL (Grade 12, choral musician)

"...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."

Film Viewer

"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."
Grant Gershon, Music Director, Los Angeles Master Chorale

"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."
Stephen and Ondrea Levine, authors, A Year To Live, NM

"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"

John Neff, former bassist, Steppenwolf; musician/engineer, Portland, Oregon

"Lauridsen makes music that touches heaven - a glimpse of the Old One's faces. Shining Night makes the master human."
Shibboleth, Amazon review

"A peek inside a masterful modern composer of choral music.
Sacred without being preachy, the film transcends orthodoxy."

Amazon viewer review

"Enthralling, wonderfully videographed.
The music is absolutely beautiful, touching and inspiring."

Amazon viewer review

"Lauridsen's music is sublime and he is a very spiritual, yet down-to-earth person. I would recommend this documentary to those that enjoy his music or choral music in general, and for those that revere the arts and the simple things in life."
Lucero, Amazon Review

"...a life-changing documentary, soulfully portrayed and spiritually relevant. The translation and interpretation from poetry to choral music is breathtaking. The humbling depth of the maestro's thoughts and wisdom will stay with me forever. Your life may be less if you don't have a copy as a frequent reference point, not for the shelf! Indulge, savour, redefine! I am 'singing my song' now....and 'changing lives' "
Shena Macdonald, Amazon review

"A silent and eerily poignant portrait of an indisputable genius, one of the greatest choral composers of our time. Accompanied by Lauridsen's wonderful works , the viewer is abducted into the world of Waldron Island and the composer's life and work, I highly recommend this film-
a real movie pearl and ode to the power of music !"

Raphael Fimm, Amazon review

"I just viewed Shining Night with my son and his wife. The pure beauty of it; sound, voices, the music, stunning nature photography, touching interviews and such deep honoring of Lauridsen, were very moving to all of us. My son, a classical opera fan, immediately sat down and ordered a copy before the film was finished. I express deep gratitude for your generous gift to the world of this piece of history and art."
Nadean Burington, San Diego, CA

"Your documentary on Morten Lauridsen has changed my life. I have never experienced anything so powerful. The film and his music have changed my life's focus away from what is destructive toward a constructive way of being. Through your breathtaking documentary, I find a resting place and am helped to love myself again.
My credo is restored. "

Shena MacDonald, film viewer, Moray, Scotland

"In this documentary Stillwater captures the essence of Lauridson's music, emphasizing the connection between the music and the composer's beloved island. Morten's description of his profound love of place makes clear the mental picture he envisioned as he composed his music. This documentary captures the workings of his creative mind."
Judith Ann Wilson, Amazon Review

"Wonderful film. I took it with me at the end of last year year on travels to visit friends and relatives in South Africa, Europe, Canada and the U.S. They loved it. One who was dealing with a recent bereavement said it was the most healing experience for her. Now I have three more copies of the DVD, one circulating amongst members of the choir with which I sing (currently learning Lux Aeterna for a September concert). Thanks to Mr Lauridsen for his wonderful inspiration and beautiful music
and to Mr Stillwater for such a wonderful film."

Bill Pigott, Australia

"In the same manner that listening to John Coltrane's A Love Supreme connects me spiritually and wholly to the artist and his energies, Shining Night has connected me to Lauridsen as a musician and as a man in a way that I had not been connected before. Morten Lauridsen's music transcends this world and allows its listeners- and its performers- to experience true mysticism. Michael Stillwater's documentary gives that sound more precise definition. A wonderful, visually stunning, and deeply important film."
John Conahan, performer/composer/conductor, Philadelphia

"The beautiful choral music will bring tears to your eyes. This documentary is so informative and beautiful, it is a must see. The cinematic photography is breath taking. The story line is interesting and well detailed. A tale of seclusion and tapping the God-given gifts within the soul of man are the gripping moments that make the glorious music soar. Much has gone into the creative process. The movie presents the work and integrity behind some of the world's best loved choral music by a living composer. It shows the small community that embraces their composer and helps him produce these works. We travel to magnificent cathedrals to hear choral renditions. We see the beautiful island habitat of the composer and learn
how his piano came to dwell with him.
Patti Nylen, Westmont, IL Amazon review

"Following the premiere screening, I was left speechless for days,
swimming in the ecstasy of the kind of music that you are sure comes from angelic realms. The style of filmmaking is a work of art comparable to the artistry of Morten Lauridsen. The film feels like a symphony, weaving in and out of musical/visual motifs. If you have an opportunity to hear Mr Lauridsen's music performed live, do indeed rush to do so. But don't miss out on the experience of this film."

K.S.Lawrence, Desert Hot Springs, Amazon comment

"I was thunderstruck. Musically, visually, and scenically 'sublime'. I was reminded of the ancient buddhas and yogi sages who would retreat to the solitude of the mountain peaks so they could 'hear' the vibrations of the universe...and decided the Earth resonated to the sound of Om. They needed the outer and inner stillness in their world and the meditative discipline to hear it.  Yet they, for the most part, would stay reclusive and isolated with their new 'one-ness' with the eternal nature.  Morten Lauridsen taps into this majesty through his seclusion, but then generously comes back among us and creates a vector for us to tap into that eternal glory with no interference, directly from
his awareness to our own soul with his music."

Renee Schatz

"There are so many levels of excellence here. This first time filmmaker... allows us to get to know his subject, informing and inspiring us. The style of filmmaking is a work of art comparable to the artistry of Morten Lauridsen. The film feels like a symphony, weaving in and out of musical/visual motifs...and maybe it took another musician to bring the enchanting music of Mr. Lauridsen into a visual work of art. Morten Lauridsen is one of America's treasures. He has been described as a mystic, but the film shows him also as a man, nature lover, artist, teacher, conductor, performer, and lover of poetry, art, and all things beautiful. (The music is) mystical, transcendent, romantic, sumptuous, moving, even inspiring, interwoven in the film with pictures of Lauridsen's life, along with many interviews
with him and other musicians.

"I was left speechless for days after seeing Shining Night in a theater (together with Lauridsen accompanying a performance of the USC Chamber Singers), swimming in the ecstasy of the kind of music that you are sure comes from angelic realms.

"If you have an opportunity to hear Lauridsen's music performed live, do indeed rush to do so. But don't miss out on the experience of this film. It will allow you to bathe all of your senses in a work of art, and learn about a really fascinating genius composer at the same time."
KS Lawrence, Desert Hot Springs, CA (Response on

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