A Valparaiso University music professor has won the 2010 Arlin G. Meyer Prize in Music Performance, presented by the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts to honor a faculty member’s work exemplifying the practice of Christian artistic or scholarly vocation.

Dennis Friesen-Carper, Reddel professor of music, received the prize for directing his original oratorio “Innocents.” Set to a libretto by renowned author and Valpo professor Walter Wangerin Jr., “Innocents” was written in response to the war in Iraq and meditates on the often tragic cost of the pursuit of power.

According to the Meyer Prize selection committee’s letter of citation, Friesen-Carper’s oratorio “dramatizes the horror of Herod’s paranoid murder of not only the children of Bethlehem, but also (historically) his beloved wife Mariamme and their children.”

More than 200 performers of all ages participated in the 2007 premiere of “Innocents” at Valpo’s Chapel of the Resurrection, conducted by Friesen-Carper. The selection committee noted the timely nature of Friesen-Carper’s work and his intention to create “space for our community to reflect on the abuse of power [and on] Christ’s alternative, and to pray for God’s light.”

The Meyer Prize was presented during the 20th anniversary national conference of the Lilly Fellows Program, held at Valpo this fall.

The Valpo-based Lilly Fellows Program, the largest ecumenical organization working to advance the future of church-related higher education in the United States, was founded in 1991 to strengthen the quality and shape the character of church-related institutions of learning for the 21st century. First, it offers two-year, residential postdoctoral teaching fellowships at Valpo for young scholars who wish to renew their sense of vocation within a Christian community of learning in order to prepare themselves for positions of educational leadership within church-related institutions.

Second, it maintains a collaborative network of 93 church-related colleges and universities that sponsors a variety of activities and publications designed to explore the Christian character of the academic vocation and to strengthen the religious nature of church-related institutions. The National Network represents a diversity of denominational traditions, institutional types and geographical locations. Third, it sponsors the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program, which supports, during their first three years of graduate school, young men and women of exceptional academic talent who are exploring vocations in church-related higher education.

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