In celebration of the 75th anniversary of its founding, the St. Olaf Choir under the direction of Kenneth Jennings embarked on its first tour of the Orient in the summer of 1986. Reflecting a world heritage of music and also St. Olaf College's emphasis on global awareness, the tour program included music in German, French, Hungarian, Russian, Chinese, Japanese, Spanish, Swedish, Latin, and English.
Designated by Governor Rudy Perpich a "cultural and educational representative of the state of Minnesota," the choir sang concerts in Kyoto, Tokyo and Kumamoto, Japan; Taipei, Taiwan; Hong Kong; Shanghai, Nanjing, Xian and Beijing, People's Republic of China; and Honolulu, Hawaii. The tour was preceded by a gala concert at the World Theater in St. Paul. Music on the recording is selected from these performances.
As director of the St. Olaf Choir from 1968 to 1990, Kenneth Jennings enhanced the tradition of national and international touring begun by the choir's founder, F. Melius Christiansen, and continued by his son Olaf C. Christiansen.
Under Jennings' direction, the St. Olaf Choir performed in all the major music centers of the United States and in many prestigious music festivals in Europe, including the Strasbourg International Music Festival (France), where Jennings conducted the St. Olaf Choir, international soloists and the Strasbourg Philharmonic in Bach's Mass in B Minor, the Heinrich Schütz Festival (Holland), the Lyon Festival (France), the Tongerin Music Festival (Belgium) and the Bergen Music Festival (Norway). The choir also participated at the invitation of the Vatican in events for the Week of Christian Unity in Rome.
St. Olaf College, highly respected for programs of excellence in the arts, sciences and humanities, is a four-year liberal arts college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.