TLU Remembers Life, Legacy of Former Choir Director Dr. Sigurd Christiansen
January 31, 2012
Texas Lutheran University (TLU) faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends today express their deepest condolences as they celebrate the life and legacy of a beloved member of the TLU family, Dr. Sigurd Olaf Christiansen. Dr. Christiansen passed away on January 29 at his home in North St. Paul, Minnesota, with his family by his side.
Christiansen was the choir director at TLU for 29 years, serving as chair of the music department for much of that time where he taught and mentored thousands of students, including TLU’s current music and choral director, Dr. Douglas Boyer.
“Dr. Sigurd Christiansen brought such life and energy through his presence at Texas Lutheran. He brought to Texas the Christiansen legacy so well known, honored, and revered in the Lutheran universities,” said Dr. Boyer. “He was my choral director when I was a student at TLC and he impacted my life greatly. I will never forget when we were in the balcony of the chapel and we had just completed singing through the Schein Die mit Tränen säen. He looked at us and said, ‘This is when I know that I am home, when I am making music with you.’ I feel the same way when I’m working with the TLU choirs. I feel like I am home.”
One of his greatest gifts to TLU was his contribution to the development of Christmas Vespers. “I have tried to continue his legacy by creating a worshipful service where the music leads to a personal, spiritual message for the listener. This I learned from Dr. Christiansen,” said Dr. Boyer.
Under the direction of Dr. Boyer, the TLU School of Music will honor his memory by commissioning Thomas Pavlechko, Cantor and Composer In Residence at St. Martin’s Lutheran Church in Austin, to arrange the hymn “Joy to the World” for wind ensemble, choir, and congregation. This arrangement will be dedicated to Dr. Christiansen and performed every year at Christmas Vespers.
TLU’s Spring Choir Tour, “A New Creation,” also will be dedicated to the life and legacy of Dr. Christiansen. The tour begins March 22 with a performance in Round Top, followed by a March 23 performance in Fredericksburg and a March 24 performance in Wimberley. The tour concludes with a final performance on March 27 at TLU’s Chapel of the Abiding Presence. Specific information for each performance can be found at www.tlu.edu/choirtour.
Dr. Christiansen is survived by his wife of 46 years Karen Christiansen (Carlson), son Sten (Lisa), and daughters Lia (Matt Benson) and Lis (Andy Fuller) and five grandchildren, Ella and Erik Christiansen and Annika, Kai and Ava Benson. He was a voracious reader, accomplished composer, poet, carpenter and handyman. He was a fantastic father who was always up for a game of tennis, hoops, a ski, a skate or time together. His life was one of unwavering love, devoted service, ceaseless humor, and unending curiosity. A private service for the family will be held this summer at Bad Medicine Lake in Minnesota. Memorials can be made to the National Multiple Sclerosis society designated for research. http://www.nationalmssociety.org
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