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Shining Night: A Portrait of Composer Morten Lauridsen

"a man, an island, and music that moves the world"

'Shining Night' is a tribute to a living legend, celebrating the life and music of the artist whom musicologist Nick Strimple called 'the only American composer in history who can be called a mystic'. National Medal of Arts recipient and most frequently performed American choral composer, Morten Lauridsen spends summers on a remote island in the Pacific Northwest.

Featuring intimate interviews in California, Scotland and Waldron Island, Washington, interwoven with performances of his masterworks and commentaries by music contemporaries. Revealed through the lens of his passion for nature and music, Lauridsen expresses a presence of unwavering dedication to the craft of composition. First episode in the film series, 'In Search of The Great Song'.

  • Michael Stillwater
  • Michael Stillwater
  • Doris Laesser Stillwater
  • Morten Lauridsen
    Key Cast
  • Dana Gioia
    Key Cast
  • Paul Mealor
    Key Cast
  • Robert Geary
    Key Cast
  • Alex Shapiro
    Key Cast
  • Project Type:
  • Genres:
    documentary, music biography
  • Runtime:
    1 hour 13 minutes 30 seconds
  • Completion Date:
    February 7, 2012
  • Country of Origin:
    United States
  • Country of Filming:
    United States
  • Language:
  • Shooting Format:
  • Aspect Ratio:
  • Film Color:
  • First-time Filmmaker:
  • Student Project:
  • American Documentary Film Festival
    Palm Springs, CA
    February 7, 2012
    World Premiere
  • LA Movie Awards
    Los Angeles, CA
    April 9, 2014
    Honorable Mention
    Washington, DC
    February 29, 2012
    Washington, DC Premiere
    Best Documentary
  • Thin Line Film Festival
    Denton, TX
    February 18, 2012
    Texas Premiere
  • Outside the Box Film Festival
    Carbondale, IL
    April 9, 2012
    Illionis Premiere
  • Cincinnati Film Festival
    Cincinnati, OH
    July 10, 2012
    Nominated, Best Documentary
  • Eugene International Film Festival
    Eugene, OR
    August 20, 2012
    Oregon Premiere
    Best Documentary, International Category
  • Reframe Film Festival
    Peterborough, Ontario, Canada
    January 27, 2013
    Canadian Premiere
  • Danish Film Festival
    Copenhagen, Denmark
    March 9, 2013
    Scandinavian Premiere
  • Albuquerque Film and Media Experience
    Albuquerque, NM
    June 9, 2013
    New Mexico Premiere
  • Big Green Film Festival
    Bristol, Wales, UK
    June 16, 2013
  • Friday Harbor Film Festival
    Friday Harbor, San Juan Island, WA
    October 11, 2013
    Washington State Premiere
    Audience Choice Award
  • Waimea Ocean Film Festival
    Big Island, HI
    January 3, 2014
    Hawaii Premiere
  • Salt Spring Film Festival
    Salt Spring Island, BC, Canada
    March 1, 2014
  • Reel Music Festival
    Portland, OR
    October 20, 2012
  • Oregon Film Awards
    Portland, OR
    November 7, 2012
  • Carmel Art & Film Festival
    Carmel, CA
    October 14, 2012
Distribution Information
  • Hal Leonard Corporation
Director Biography - Michael Stillwater

Michael Stillwater is an educator, illustrator, award-winning songwriter, recording artist, filmmaker and photographer.

Founder of Song Without Borders, focused on personal and societal transformation through song, he is also artist/founder of Inner Harmony. He is the creator of SongCare, a personalized intuitive therapeutic artistry serving individuals, couples and organizations since 1982, and SongSourcing, a unique method helping reconnect people with their inner songmaker.

From his experience with terminally ill patients and their families, the book and audio recording, Graceful Passages: A Companion For Living and Dying, co-created with film composer Gary Malkin, has become a leading audio resource in hospice for reducing anxiety around dying. A sequential work, Care for the Journey, addresses sustainability and wellness for healthcare practitioners.

Stillwater is a pioneer in the fields of American folk chant and intuitive song, facilitating collaborative artistic expression in schools, churches, and communities in Europe and America.

The documentary film series, In Search of The Great Song, produced together with his wife, Swiss contemplative psychologist Doris Laesser Stillwater, addresses the underlying music inside everyone. Their first feature-length documentary, Shining Night (2012), called ‘a heartening rarity’ by Wall Street Journal, was an Official Selection of twenty film festivals, recipient of four Best Documentary Awards, and aired on public broadcasting in Southern California.

Their second film, In Search of the Great Song (2016), received two Best Documentary awards.

Their third film, Beyond the Fear of Singing, is in post-production (2018).

Born in the USA, he lived in Switzerland for over ten years before moving to Helsinki with his wife and family in 2017.

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Director Statement

My joy is to discover and reveal the hidden light within people and nature, and unlock the songs that wish to be sung.