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Published: Wednesday, 3/10/2010

‘Hallelujah'! St. John's teacher's work to be sung at several concerts


St. John's Jesuit High School junior Mark Beyer describes his music teacher's original composition, “Hallelujah,” as “very Luke Rosen. It's dissonant.”

Senior Chris Kessler adds, “It's crunchy, but in a fun way. It's definitely filled with his style.”

Mr. Rosen, 30, has been director of choral music at St. John's for six years. While his students know him as the energetic teacher who makes them sing with “good posture” and a “very, very tall mouth,” he also has been composing music — at least in his head — for as far back as he can remember.

“I noticed when I was in fourth or fifth grade I would be walking along humming or whistling songs that I didn't know where they came from,” the Cincinnati native said, adding that both of his parents were musically inclined.

“In kindergarten, my Mom noticed when we were singing in church that I stopped singing melody and started singing harmony,” Mr. Rosen said. “I thought everyone could do that. I thought everyone could do that until I got to high school.”

This month, two of his compositions will be performed for local audiences.

The Toledo Masterworks Chorale, of which Mr. Rosen is a member, will perform “Hallelujah” at a concert at 8 p.m. Saturday at First Presbyterian Church in Maumee and again at 7 p.m. Sunday at the Defiance Arts and Media Center in Defiance.

Also Saturday, the Singing Men of Ohio, a touring men's ensemble from Ohio University, will premiere Mr. Rosen's “I Have Seen” at OU. The troupe also will perform the song at a free concert at 8 p.m. March 24 at the chapel at St. John's High School on Airport Highway.

While Mr. Rosen wrote “Hallelujah,” for the men's chorus at St. John's during the 2006-2007 school year, “I Have Seen” is a new composition he wrote at the urging of Brooks Jarosz, a 2005 St. John's graduate, who was a member of the Singing Men of Ohio while he attended OU.

The song is about “triumphing over hardship, sticking with it, running the race to the finish line,” Mr. Rosen said.

It resonated with the OU group and its director, Peter Jarjisian.

“Luke Rosen's composition made a strong impression on the members of the Singing Men of Ohio and myself,” Mr. Jarjisian said. “The strength and persistence represented throughout are consistent with the spirit of the Singing Men.”

Even though writing a song for the OU troupe was Mr. Jarosz's idea, Mr. Rosen said he actually completed it and talked to Mr. Jarjisian about performing it before he delivered the news to Mr. Jarosz.

“On Christmas Eve, Brooks was back in town and when he's home, he sings in my church choir,” said Mr. Rosen, who also works as music director at Corpus Christi parish at the University of Toledo. “I handed him the piece of music and said, by the way, your alma mater will be performing this.”

Mr. Rosen, who has both bachelor and master of music degrees from Bowling Green State University, has written numerous compositions for church and has released two compact discs of original music, “Stations of the Cross — Prayer in Music” and “Comfort and Joy — Christmas at Corpus Christi University Parish.”

Mr. Rosen, who said he always wanted to be a teacher, said he encourages his students to try their hands at composing but always tells them they have to write it down if they're serious about writing songs.

“The real key is when you commit it to paper and people can perform it without you being around,” he said.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at:jfeehan@theblade.comor 419-724-6129.

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