“I scoured through hundreds of writings by individuals who I consider reformers — those who have worked to improve their community, their country and/or the world,” he said.
The stories, struggles and successes of the reformers he researched provided depth to the composition and influenced the music, according to Runestad.
“I feel that the texts I’ve included in the piece, taken from reformers throughout history, give us insight into fear as well as wisdom in how we can move beyond it,” Runestad said.
The work features some reformers who have inspired and advanced Luther’s legacy — Swami Vivekananda, Mahatma Gandhi, Helen Keller, Frederick Douglass, Martin Luther King Jr., John the Evangelist, Mechthild von Magdeburg, Peter the Apostle, Rabindranath Tagore — and Martin Luther himself.
Through its five movements, the composition explores three principal motives: thought, fear and dark and love and light.
As evident by the title, light is a central theme of the piece. It opens and concludes the composition with the words of Swami Vivekananda: “Come out into the universe of light. / Everything in the universe is yours, / stretch out your arms and embrace it with love.”
“It is my hope that this new work, “Into the Light,” allows us to be immersed in the wisdom of some of the most important and influential reformers in history, and challenges us to consider how we can move beyond fear and onto a path of love, compassion and kindness,” Runestad said.
“Into the Light” premiered at Valparaiso University’s Homecoming Choral Concert on Saturday, Sept. 30, 2017. This composition will also be performed by the Chorale during their 500th Anniversary of the Reformation tour in Germany this October.