“In order to be a good artist, you have to have imagination,” Lunde explains while sitting in front of a bank of video-editing equipment at Skyline Studios. Across the room are a small sound booth and a large mixing board; down the hall is a wood-floored, sunlit recording studio filled with everything from harpsichords to unusual percussion instruments.
“You have to make the music talk,” he says of the ever-present challenge to musicians. “It has to communicate. It has to illustrate something.” Even listeners who are non-musicians should be able to understand the meaning the music conveys in much the same way as a viewer can grasp meaning from an actor’s performance even if it’s in an unfamiliar language, he says.
Lunde – and, by extension, the thousands who’ve heard him perform, listened to his compositions or recordings, studied in one of his classes, or watched one of the ensembles he’s conducted – has benefited greatly from the language of music. Without music, he quite literally wouldn’t be here.
Lunde grew up in a musical household in Norway – both parents taught music, and his father also composed and conducted – and he attended the Conservatory of Music in Oslo. Yet music wasn’t automatically his vocation: “My parents didn’t really want me to go into music because they knew it was not a very lucrative prospect for anyone,” he explains. In fact, Lunde was in the process of applying to medical school in Germany when a fateful phone call came from the Norwegian National Opera asking him to sit in with the orchestra. After a few performances, Lunde became the orchestra’s principal oboist, and music has been his profession ever since.
Lunde met his wife, Nanette, an American, while performing with an orchestra one summer in Austria. He followed her back to the United States: They were married in Washington, D.C., and he got a teaching position at the University of Maryland in 1966. AntiVietnam War protests brought unrest to that campus, however, and Lunde began looking elsewhere for a job. In 1968, his search brought him to UW-Eau Claire.
At the time, the UW-Eau Claire music program was located in several converted homes and trailers on campus, but in 1970 it was consolidated when the Haas Fine Arts Center opened on Water Street. While he was busy teaching oboe, music theory, and other classes, Lunde’s musical endeavors weren’t limited to campus. In the mid-1970s, he was involved in the formation of the Chippewa Valley Symphony, and he became the symphony’s conductor in 1978. He was also the first conductor of the Chippewa Valley Youth Symphony Orchestra, which formed in 1980.