Luther College loses legendary director

Dec. 21, 2016 is a date that many Luther college students, alumni and fans will never forget. Weston Noble, long-time director of the Luther choirs, passed away that day after health complications following a serious fall. Noble was loved by many, and Luther alumni Elliott Kranz, who is also the CFHS choir director, remembers Noble fondly and personally.

“I knew Mr. Noble in a few different ways,” Kranz said. In January of 2002, the Nordic choir was going on an East Coast tour, but Noble had recently broken his leg in a car accident. Kranz was supposed to start his student teaching that same month, but his college roommate was president of the Nordic choir and asked him to tag along and make sure Noble made it through the trip. “I had many duties that month and had the privilege of connecting with Mr. Noble on a more personal level. It was something that I will never forget.”

Something Luther prizes is tradition. This proved true when talking about Noble, and how his legacy lives on. “What I observed from him as a teacher and a conductor are things I try to use in my rehearsals with my students. Some of the warm-ups and rehearsal techniques are the same.”

After graduating from Luther, Noble was asked to return as interim choir director for a year. Somehow time got lost, and one year turned into 57 years. In these years he conducted all the choirs, but most notably, he led the Nordic choir to their elite acapella status they have today.

While Noble had many traditions and staple phrases, there’s one in particular that Kranz will never forget. “‘All music must dance’ was one of Mr. Noble’s favorite sayings, and it is one I still use today,” Kranz said.

Kranz isn’t the only Cedar Falls citizen whose heart was touched by Noble and his teachings. Linnea Nicol, Luther alumni from ‘87, also had many positive experiences with the legendary Noble. “The last time I saw Weston Noble was on Luther campus four years ago.  We went to the closing performance of the Dorian summer music camp. I saw Dr. Noble in the lobby after the conference, and upon seeing me he remembered my maiden name, that I was from Estherville, Iowa, and mentioned how much John (my son) favored my dad,” Nicol said. “I remember going to Valder’s Hall for Messiah rehearsals. He always had a story about the music, almost as though he had been there when Handel wrote it,” Nicol said.

Over the years, Noble earned honorary doctoral degrees from Augustana College, St. Olaf College, Westminster Choir College of Rider University, Carthage College and Wartburg College. During his senior year of college, 1943, Noble was called into active duty. Luckily, Luther allowed him and others called to accelerate their degrees and finish before they left for active duty. He fought at Battle of the Bulge in 1944 and was part of the main Allied attack on Nazi Germany in 1945.

Over the years of his musical life he has touched the hearts of many, and instilled a irremovable love of music in the minds of so many musicians.  As Nicol put it so frankly, “Weston Noble was the heart of Luther College.”

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