Orson Scott Card, best-selling author of “Ender’s Game,” and composer Mark Mitchell will be in Lakewood this Sunday for an unusual world premiere: a sacred music story based on some 20 hymns written by the two and inspired by Tacoma soprano Erin Guinup, who will direct a choir and orchestra for the performance at Lakewood Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
“I found Mark’s music last Christmas when I asked him to transpose some things, and happened to see his hymns on his website,” says Guinup, a local opera singer who also directs music at the Lakewood Mormon church. “They seemed to be calling out with a story.”
When Guinup mentioned that to Mitchell, he began writing a story linking the hymns together, plus orchestration and solo parts to tell the story of a man who finds purpose in life through faith, despite grief. It’s called “He Is There: A Convert’s Story.”
The hymns represent about 10 years of collaboration between the Ottawa-based Mitchell and Card. The grandson of Mormon pioneers, Card also has written religious screenplays and novels, and wrote the lyrics for about 55 of Mitchell’s hymns, recently published as “Hymns of Light.”
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Both Mitchell and Card will be at Sunday’s world premiere, which will be performed by a 40-strong choir, 16-member orchestra and soloists.
“It’s really beautiful,” she says. “Mark writes with a lot of contemporary chords like major 9ths, and he’s a beautiful melodist with harmonies that are almost Copland-esque. The meaning comes through clearly. It’s unique. It’s been quite a pleasure to perform it.”