Religion, music converge at C of I Judaic studies event

The College of Idaho will host visiting composer Dr. Michael John Trotta as part of an interdisciplinary panel discussion and musical event Tuesday, Oct. 14. The public event, titled “Surely, You Are in This Place,” begins at 7 p.m. in the Langroise Center for Performing and Fine Arts on the C of I campus in Caldwell as part of the Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Lectureship in Judaic Studies.

Trotta, a noted composer of choral music whose work has been performed around the world, is Director of Choral Activities and Assistant Professor of Music at Virginia Wesleyan College. He will be joined in the discussion by C of I Campus Minister Dr. Phil Rogers and history professor Dr. Federica Francesconi, who holds the College’s Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies. The panel will discuss two Biblical texts—Psalm 46 and Genesis 28—from the perspectives of Christianity, Judaism and the artistic and musical world. The discussion concludes with a performance by the C of I Chorale, directed by Dr. Brent Wells. The choir will sing a setting of Psalm 46 that Trotta composed specifically for the Chorale.

“This lecture represents a crossroads of culture, theology, artistry and authentic music making,” Wells said. “It is a wonderful, collaborative presentation that highlights the interdisciplinary approach fundamental to the liberal arts experience.”

Trotta’s visit also will include a special campus presentation on Wednesday, Oct. 15, as well as guest lectures in several music classes and one-on-one coaching with composition students. Trotta comes to the C of I because the Chorale won his 2014 online commission contest for its performance of his song “Break of Day.” As winner of the contest, the Chorale benefits from Trotta’s guidance and pieces composed specifically for the group—Tuesday’s performance and a second song that will be heard Thursday, Oct. 16, at the C of I Fall Choral Showcase (7:30 p.m., Jewett Auditorium).

The Craig H. Neilsen Foundation Lectureship in Judaic Studies brings dignitaries, scholars and public figures to campus to speak about Jewish religion, interfaith dialogue, culture, history, arts and current events. It is a vital piece of the College’s recently-established Howard Berger-Ray Neilsen Chair in Judaic Studies, which was created to promote greater understanding of Jewish traditions, culture and philosophy in Idaho and the West.

Founded in 1891, The College of Idaho is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college. It has a century-old tradition of educating some of the most accomplished graduates in Idaho, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three Marshall Scholars, and another 12 Truman and Goldwater Scholars. The College is located on a beautiful campus in Caldwell, Idaho. Its distinctive PEAK curriculum challenges students to attain competencies in the four knowledge peaks of the humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field, enabling them to graduate with an academic major and three minors in four years. For more information on The College of Idaho, visit