Last from the past
Luther is known for having a faculty rich with alumni. New Assistant Professor of Music and Director of Collegiate Chorale and Norsemen, Andrew Last (‘97) is among these ranks
Last is thrilled to work with the choirs of Luther again, noting the social dynamics that exist beyond the classroom.
“Luther has fantastic choirs within a sense of community,” Last said. “The choirs feel their purpose and presence on the campus and the campus embraces that.”
Last was hired to succeed Timothy Peter (‘86), who recently began work at Stetson University in DeLand, Fla. after over two decades at Luther. Last recognizes the significance of such a transition, especially since he was once a member of Norsemen under Peter.
“If I went somewhere else to replace someone who had been so successful, I would be intimidated,” Last said. “Here, it is different because everyone loved Dr. Peter, but I am one of them. I am very aware of what his presence and legacy here has been, and I want to honor that.”
Last has already begun to make an impact on his students. Wednesday, Aug. 29, Norsemen rehearsed for the first time, introducing many first-year men to Luther’s choral program.
“He has a lot of energy, which I think turns on the energy of the choir,” Brandon Peck (‘16) said. “He is very excited for the work that he does and he seems like he’ll be a great guy to work with.”
Last is passionate about the unifying aspect of music. He notes that he did not fully appreciate his first directing job until he made an effort to become more open with his students and achieved a sense of unity among the choir.
“Choral music places everybody in a place where they have to be vulnerable because with music, it is all about those different voices and different minds trying to get on the same page,” Last said. “That means that everybody has to be willing to shed their skin and get into that place at the same time.”
Among his choral positions prior to Luther, Last was the director of choral activities at Xavier High School in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, where several current Luther students sang under him.
“He has this intangible ability to make every single person want to do everything they can for him,” Jimmy Deignan (‘15), who sang under Last at Xavier said, “People want to do magic for Andrew Last.”
Pat Fagan (‘14) is another former member Xavier’s choral program.
“Not only will you work hard and give him the best that you can, but you want to work hard for him,” Fagan said, “You want to make him proud of what he is doing with your group.”
Originally, Last was not planning on working at Luther, but because of another job opening at the collegiate level, he accelerated his effort to receive the Doctor of Musical Arts degree in choral conducting from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Music. Last recognizes that, without that acceleration, he would not have been considered for his current position at Luther.
“It was a wonderful possibility and an even better reality to be able to come back here,” Last said. “The plan that we have isn’t always the plan that a higher being has for us.”