From the untold history of America’s largest early immigrations, this half-hour documentary tells the story of 19th-century Saxons who settled in rural Missouri. Unprepared for the harsh conditions of America in 1838, and dismayed by the scandal of their leader Martin Stephan, they persevered to sow the seeds for one of the world’s largest bodies of Lutheranism today. From interviews with historians and curators, to archival pictures and centennial re-enactments, this documentary blends historical storytelling with the music of J.S. Bach, in a tribute to the living descendants of this epic migration.
Carla Jordan is the Director of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society's Lutheran Heritage Center and Museum in Altenburg, Missouri. She is also the owner of CL Jordan Preservation in Cape Girardeau, Missouri, whose mission is to promote, preserve, and document the cultural resources of rural America. She is the recipient of numerous grants and awards associated with this work that also includes study and preservation of Route 66.
Robert Schmidt is a former President of the Perry County Lutheran Historical Society. He was born October 11, 1945 on the family farm two miles north of Altenburg, the fourth of five children of Elmer and Lorna Schmidt. He attended Trinity Lutheran School and graduated from Perryville High School. He was in the National Guard from 1965 until 1971. He worked at Perry Crating for 6 years. He retired from Procter & Gamble in 2002 after working 32 years. He lives on a farm south of Altenburg.
Lynda Lorenz is the Curator of the Saxon Lutheran Memorial in Frohna, Missouri. She has been married to her husband Doyle for a combined total of 24 years, blessed with 4 children and 7 grandchildren. She has worked in several different venues for the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod for a total of 25 years, starting at the Lutheran Hour Ministries in 1988, then the LCMS headquarters in 1997, and finally the Saxon Lutheran Memorial in 2007, which is an historic log cabin home and farmstead dedicated to the Wilhelm and Christian Bergt families of the Saxon immigration.
Rev. Marvin Huggins is a 1970 graduate of Concordia Seminary, Saint Louis, and has spent over 30 years of his ministry on the staff of the Concordia Historical Institute. Now semi-retired, he has served as associate director for archives and library at the Institute since 1989.
Martin Luther famously wrote, “Beautiful music is the art of the prophets that can calm the agitations of the soul; it is one of the most magnificent and delightful presents God has given us.” In a way, Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) became Luther’s latter-day prophet, as his music was the soundtrack to Lutheranism’s growth in the Old World, then across to “the Saxon New World.” So it made sense from the start that the soundtrack to this documentary film would be the music of J.S. Bach. What’s more, the Saxon Lutheran Memorial at the middle of this film originally was the home of the Bergt family, a long lineage of musical talents ranging from composer Christian Gottlob August Bergt (1772-1837) in Germany, to master Bach interpreter Robert Bergt (1930-2011) at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri.
The performers you will hear in this film include the Concordia University Chicago Wind Symphony conducted by Dr. Richard Fischer, organist David Mulbury, and pianist Kimiko Ishizaka (Open Goldberg Variations). The selections, in order of appearance, are:
Bist du bei mir, BWV 508 (attrib. to G.H. Stolzel) (arr. A. Reed)
First Movement, Magnificat, BWV 243
Sinfonia from Christmas Oratorio, BWV 248
Aria from Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Credo from Mass in B minor, BWV 232
Jesu, Joy of Man's Desiring from Herz und Mund und Tat und Leben, BWV 147
Prelude from Prelude and Fugue in A minor, BWV 543
Variatio 15. Canone alla Quinta a 1 Clav.: Andante from Goldberg Variations, BWV 988
Ach bleib bei uns, Herr Jesu Christ, BWV 649 from Schübler Chorales
Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme, BWV 140
Sheep May Safely Graze from Was mir behagt, ist nur die muntre Jagd, BWV 208
H. Paul Moon is a filmmaker, composer and video artist. Through his production company Zen Violence Films, he profiles performing and visual artists who span boundaries from classical arts to new media technologies. He also creates experimental films in the tradition of wordless environmental cinema ranging from city symphonies to Koyaanisqatsi.
Moon's debut film El Toro—an experimental work that explores connections between the ancient ritual of Spanish bullfights, and the passion of the Christ—won the Best of Show award of the 2010 Rosebud Film & Video Festival at Artisphere, and the Experimental Media Prize of the 2011 WPA Experimental Media Series at The Phillips Collection. Prior to El Toro, Moon filmed the documentary R. Luke DuBois: Running Out of Time, profiling a New York composer and visual artist who builds on notions of cultural and romantic memory, exploring how information can be accelerated for emotional impact. The documentary premiered at the 2011 DC Independent Film Festival, won the 2011 "Best Short Documentary" jury prize at the Chicago International Movies & Music Festival, and won the 2011 "Silver Medal for Excellence in a Music Documentary" at the Park City Film Music Festival. Subsequently, Moon filmed the short documentary Hamac Cazíim, about a punk band using music to maintain their indigenous heritage, which became an official selection at the Red Nation, Chicago International Movies & Music and Ruby Mountain Film Festivals, the Native American Indian Film Festival of the Southeast, and the Indianer Inuit: Das Nordamerika Filmfestival in Stuttgart, Germany.
Moon later debuted Time Crunch, a landscape/environmental film accompaniment to the same-named work for chamber orchestra by composer Jordan Kuspa, at the Smithsonian American Art Museum with the 21st Century Consort. Time Crunch became an official selection at the Ruby Mountain, James River Shorts, Chronos, and Park City Film Music Festivals. From the same series at the Smithsonian, he recently debuted an experimental work named Simple Machines with an original music score by R. Luke DuBois, which subsequently screened at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond. His newest film is LowerTown Paducah, a feature-length documentary about an artist relocation program in Kentucky. Projects still in production include a narrative short, and three feature-length documentaries: about the American composer Samuel Barber, cowboy poetry, and the life of Whittaker Chambers — an espionage thriller.
Prior to his recent interest in filmmaking, Moon was a playwright and a composer of incidental music for theatre. He lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area, where he also teaches video editing at Docs In Progress.